(Editor's Note: today's guest post comes to us from one of the wedding industry's true thought leaders, our friend Michelle Loretta from Sage Wedding Pros! Read more about Michelle at the end of the post!)
This is the BEST time of the year! Not only do we have the holidays to enjoy some much needed downtime with our family and friends. But also, we have the space and time to reflect on what’s working in our business (and what isn’t) and set goals for the New Year.
I think of this time as the ‘winter clean-up’ that every business owner needs. Get rid of the proverbial business clutter that’s dragging your business down and lay the foundation for a stronger business. (It’s why we created our annual Action Plan. You can find it here - use it to help with your strategy building for 2016. Use the code ‘authenticboss’ for $5 off!)
Want to start off on the right foot? Here are three things you should be doing to prepare your business for the new year:
1. Create a marketing strategy. We throw far too much money and time around without being intentional with our marketing decisions. Stop doing that. Sit down and consider the following:
- Who do you want your target client to be? What blogs, magazines, and websites do they read? How do they make decisions? How will you reach them?
- Who are your power partners? These are other wedding professionals that have a target match with you. How will you connect with these people? How will you build relationships with them?
- What are you doing to seek editorial press? Do you know how to pitch a real wedding submission to a blogger? We love the book Recipe for Press by Amy Flurry for learning all about this.
Determine how you are going to market your business in 2016. How much money do you have to spend? And – how much time do you have to spend? How will you keep yourself accountable to ensure that you’re always hustling?
2. Streamline your processes. How are you providing a consistent client experience? (It’s that consistency that makes your brand strong.) How are you ensuring quality in everything you do? And, how do you keep yourself from running in circles? The answer, my friends, is: checklists, systems, processes. You need them.
Start with the process of serving your client (everything from the initial inquiry to the follow-up one week after the wedding). Create a step by step list of everything that happens. This becomes your process. This becomes your roadmap for offering consistency, quality, and exceptional service over time.
3. Analyze your finances and create financial goals. How did you do in 2015 financially? Do you know? (If not, get yourself into some Quickbooks. Contact me if you need help!) If you know how you did, are you happy or sad? What can you do better? Go through each section of your P&L report and ask yourself:
- How were my sales results?
- How were my costs and expenses?
- Did I spend too much money anywhere?
- What do I want to do differently in 2016?
And then, set sales goals. (How many sales do you want to do in 2016 and at what dollar value?) And set an expense budget. (How much money do you want to spend in each category?) Do you have a plan for paying yourself?
A plan is only as good as you use it. The key is to create a trigger to revisit these goals every month to assess how you are performing. Business owners who keep their goals visibly present and readily available do end up achieving their goals. Put your sales goal up on the wall in front of your desk. Make a reminder to reach out to a power partner every single day (via email or social media). Create a checklist for your client process, one that you check off step-by-step to ensure quality.
EASY PEASY. Now… take action!
Have a very Happy New Year!
Michelle Loretta is a consultant for wedding and event professionals and writes daily for the Sage Wedding Pros’ business blog. She blends her past as an accountant for Deloitte, a sales and marketing manager for DDLA, a merchandiser for Coach, and a stationery entrepreneur to help entrepreneurs better their businesses. She spends her days creating business plans and financial strategies for professionals in the event and wedding industries. This winter, join her at The People Plan Workshop to learn how to successfully hire and lead a team of superstars.