Posts Tagged 'start-ups'

Effective Mompreneurs Have Effective Business Plans (and you can, too)

One of the simplest and most effective things I’ve done for my business is to finally sit down and write a business plan. I avoided doing this for three years. I had all sorts of reasons why I didn’t think it was necessary, and I had even more ideas about how hard it would be to do. Silly me.

I can’t wait to interview Melodie Lane, National Marketing Manager from the “One Page Business Plan” Company for my next teleseminar in the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series. This will be the third installment in the WoMEN series, and it will take place next Tuesday, April 28th, at Noon ET on my BlogTalkRadio show.

I had the good fortune of meeting Melodie on twitter (no surprise there!). Here’s a little background on her so you will know where she’s coming from and a picture of her with her four fabulous boys:

melodie-lane

Three and a half years ago, Melodie was launching her last business as an independent project manager and attended a local workshop on how to write a “One Page Business Plan.” There she met Jim Horan, founder and CEO of the “One Page Business Plan.” Jim became her first client and dear friend. Today, Melodie is an integral part of the company as the National Marketing Manager. She loves doing this job within the sisterhood of moms and enjoys the opportunities the company provides her to do what she is passionate about-helping people turn their ideas into thriving businesses. She has also built two successful businesses from the ground up and considers herself an entrepreneur at heart. Melodie is a busy, single mom living in Pleasant Hill, CA with her four boys.

The “One Page Business Plan” Company is an international consulting firm with over 450 consultants. They specialize in helping business owners “re-think” their businesses and then help them construct extraordinarily clear and concise strategic business plans-on a single page. The original “One Page Business Plan” book has been an Amazon.com best seller for over 11 years. Their next book, due out this summer, is the “One Page Business Plan for Women in Business.”

You won’t want to miss this information-packed hour in which Lara asks Melodie to give us the scoop on why working moms need a business plan, how to create one that reflects your definition of success, and understanding how an effective business plan equals results.
Having my WAHMs create business plans for themselves is a foundational step in my coaching practice. The One Page Business Plan is the template I have all my clients use because it is simple and effective. Learn why this isn’t just something “the big companies” should care about, and why not having one could be the very thing standing between you and the success you deserve.
The schedule for the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series continues every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at Noon ET. Visit www.whatmomentrepreneursneed.com for more information and to sign up for freebies that my speakers are sharing with our listeners!
Do you have a business plan? If not, what keeps you from creating one? If you do, what finally made you realize it was time to have one? I’d love to read your responses below.

Wondering if your biz idea will sell?

If you are an entrepreneur, you’ve had the experience of being struck with a “bright idea” that you’re certain will make you money. Hopefully, lots of money.

mom-biz-coach-pile-o-money

Many of the mom entrepreneurs I work with have incredibly creative minds and come up with new ideas for their businesses all the time. That’s part of what makes being an entrepreneur so much fun. After all, it’s not often when you’re working for someone else that your ideas are valued as much as you’d like them to be. When you work for yourself, you have the opportunity to turn your great ideas into actual products and services you can sell.

But how do you know if your idea will make you money? Or to put it another way, what if nobody else thinks your idea is so great? How much time, money, and energy can you afford to put into a business or a new product or service that doesn’t sell?

Well, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have a crystal ball and am not able to tell my coaching clients how to predict what the market will like or not like. I wish I could. But there are some easy, cheap (or free) steps you can take to be sure that you create a business, product or service the market will buy.

One of the first steps is to be clear on what your niche is and knowing what your niche market needs. If you just create a business idea and hope that someone buys it, you’re probably wasting your time and money. And these are two things mom entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of.

Secondly, it helps to utilize some of the free/cheap web tools that are out there to actually do a bit of market research before you spend money bringing your idea to reality. This research will save you time, energy, money and stress, so it is definitely worth doing beforehand!

I’ll be talking more about this in my upcoming teleseminar on Tuesday, March 24th at Noon. I’ve invited internet marketing guru Steve Weber (of www.weberinternetmarketing.com) to be my guest expert and to answer all of your questions about starting a business or creating a new product or service that will make you lots of money.

You can register for the teleseminar “Is Your Idea Viable?” by clicking here. The $19 fee will certainly pay for itself when you learn some of the marketing research techniques Steve and I use to be sure our own ideas will sell.

Steve and I will be taking questions from participants on the call (or via the webcast) and would love to help you with yours. When you register, you’ll get immediate access to the teleseminar information (including bridgeline and webcast access).

“Is Your Idea Viable?” is the first teleseminar in the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series I’m offering to mom entrepreneurs who want some short cuts and support in making their business incredibly successful this year. Visit my website to learn more about the series and see who’s up next on the agenda! The series debuts March 24 and continues every two weeks through December.

Are you toying around with a bright idea that you’d like to make a reality? What tools/strategies/methods do you use to test the market before you launch? Leave a comment below and share your questions or best practices.

Are you in over your head?

On a coaching call today, my client was wrestling with a challenge that I have certainly experienced as an entrepreneur (and as a mom, and as a teacher, and as a sales rep, and as a human…need I go on?). Her desire to please others causes her to overpromise, to bite off more than she can chew, and then to struggle with the stress, exhaustion and overwhelm that ensue after she’s made promises she knows she can’t keep.

Why do we get in over our heads? I have some thoughts on this.

First, as entrepreneurs, especially those who are in the start-up phase of their business, getting clients can be really difficult. Getting clients to believe in you, trust in your product or expertise, and to choose you over your competition can be a huge challenge. So when a client shows up, says, “Yeah, I’ll have some of what you have to offer,” and agrees to pay the price you set for it, you might be tempted to do some wacky things (like promise more than you can deliver, or neglect to mention that you need more time to get the desired results, or not ask for clarification on the project at hand) out of pure gratitude. After all, you’re going to get paid, right? So why not make them extra happy that you went above and beyond their wildest expectations? This is the desire to distinguish yourself in your field and to prove yourself worthy of the business.

I had a friend who was a realtor who was so hungry for business (this was fueled by financial needs, but also by her love of her work) that it drove her to try to be everything to her clients. She considered herself a “full service realtor.” Apparently, letting the home owners’ dog out at regular intervals during the day, tidying up the house, running personal errands for her clients and the like were all part of the full suite of services she offered as a realtor. After keeping this up for a year or two, she got really burned out and her job felt more like a burden than the source of challenge, fun and interest it had been. Her “disease to please” got the best of her, but fortunately her state of overwhelm nicely coincided with a lot of listings and sales. With a little breathing space in her bank account, she was able to choose not to offer all those additional services that were a source of personal expense to her. And her clients still loved her and referred her to others.

Secondly, we sometimes overpromise what we can deliver because we simply don’t know our own limitations. Our excitement about our work and our passion for what we do can cause us business owners to forget to factor in very basic elements of life: the need for sleep, for time away from work, for a backup plan, the risk involved when relying on others, all manner of non-billable hours to get the job done. With experience or with the support of a mentor, this tendency can be minimized.

Where do you get in over your head? Have you made promises you can’t keep to your clients, your co-workers, your family, or your friends? What impact did it have on you and them? What strategy have you put in place to manage this?

Thinking of starting a home-based business? Careful…

If you’ve been entertaining this thought, chances are you’ve met various women who sell Arbonne, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Creative Memories, to name a few home-based businesses targeted at SAHMs. These are all great businesses–I personally know and/or have coached women in these kinds of direct sales businesses who love their work. But is direct sales for you?

There are as many possibilities for self-employment as you can imagine. But to start with, what compels you to want to work? Is it something you need to do, want to do, feel you should do, or a combination? And what do you need from your work–flexibility, time off, high income potential, low investment, security, working by yourself or as part of a team…?

You can sign up for any of a huge number of home-based businesses geared towards SAHMs, but if you want to be happy, satisfied, and successful, you should probably start by figuring out what it is you want. Not just what job you want, but what that job would get you, such as: a break from mommyhood, some spending money, an outlet for your creativity or self-expression, the opportunity to contribute to the family, some adult interaction, financial security, etc.

Once you know what you want (i.e., what motivates you), it will narrow down your choices and help you choose a business that meets your conditions of satisfaction. I would make sure that the work you choose to do fits in with your family values and supports your commitments to your spouse/significant other. Otherwise, you could create some issues in a part of your life that might not already exist.

Are you a consultant for one of the above-mentioned direct sales companies? If so, please tell us a little about yourself and why you love/don’t love your job. It would help to understand what motivated you to start your business and whether it is meeting your expectations now.


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