DON'T Take The Summer Off, Perfect Your Business Planning

A lot of my clients, entrepreneurs, people thinking of launching their own business and business planning, job seekers, and owners of established businesses have been telling me that they begun to or are planning on cutting back their efforts as we head into the July 4th weekend and will cut back their efforts over the summer in a “wait until Fall” mindset.

Their thinking is, since we are still trapped in a global recession, our kids are out of school and heading away to camp, they are going to take the summer to regroup by slowing down their business planning and wait until Fall to re-engage.  THAT is the worst possible approach and a recipe for disaster. Now more than ever we should be aggressively looking at our planning and strategies to make sure we’re on the right path.
Here are just a few critical business issues we should be diving into right now to ensure the long-term health of our businesses:
* Do I have the right people in the right positions?
* What am I doing to find, recruit, hire, retain, motivate and reward TOP talent? HINT: If you answered “pay them more” you missed the boat completely.
* Is my strategy still appropriate for the current economic climate?

* Do I REALLY understand my market? Am I adequately positioned to serve the right customers? * Do I have a deep enough understanding of my ideal prospect? * How well have I analyzed my customer base? * Am I focused on serving the right customers? Do I have that Pareto principle down where I’m focusing on the clients that are most valuable to me…today and tomorrow?

* Is my sales in perfect alignment with my marketing…and product development? Speaking of marketing…while my competitors have been cutting back for several years now, now may be the ideal time to ramp up my marketing spend.
* Is my marketing well aligned with my ideal customer profile, most profitable prospects and situated to convert highly qualified leads into customers.
* Do I have a client appreciation/loyalty/retention AND referral program?
* What new services/products can I offer? Which products need to be discontinued?
* Am I embracing social media the right way?
How do I track my social media performance from an ROI perspective (HINT – the tools now exist to measure ALL your online branding/relationship-building activities.)
The list goes on and on, but the point remains the same for EVERYONE. For entrepreneurs, start-ups, small to mid-sized businesses and global corporations alike…now is the IDEAL time to make significant changes so you are positioned to eat your competitor’s lunch. After all, we’re not the Post Office, right? For us entrepreneurs and small biz owners, one of our greatest strengths is in our smaller size, so we should be able to adapt quickly to change in order to seize on opportunities. NOW is NOT the time to bury our heads in the (BEACH) sand.

We need to be aggressively figuring out what has worked for us, what hasn’t worked, what is and isn’t working, and what we need to change in order to be successful in the future. In today’s globally connected, wired, Internet-based world, we are truly competing 24x7x365. So get going! I for one am scheduled to have foot surgery in a month.  Right now I’m in the process of completely re-designing my website to reflect the fact that I now will coach/consult entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’m cutting back my teaching engagements, aggressively promoting my speaker services and training/professional development programs. I’d LOVE to slow down and take time off, but time favors the bold. Opportunities don’t come knocking. Seize the opportunity your competitors are giving you by them slowing down. Fix what’s broken and find what’s working. Hire a coach…take a course…revamp your networking strategy.  Test an entirely new marketing tool.  Launch a client appreciation luncheon…conduct an employee town hall.

Now is the PERFECT time to race ahead, while your competitors are standing still.