Having written over 27 complete business plans corresponding to the Commonwealth and ANZ banks meticulous standards – spanning on average 30 full pages, containing positioning angles, market research, competition analyses, financials, business law and marketing and sales planning – I know business plans. I know how to write them. I know what banks look for. And each of my clients approved business loans were from plans containing over 15,000 words each (some over 25,000 words). Yes, they were ‘wordy’ and clients (and anyone reading them) know exactly what business they’re in.
A well thought out plan that delves deep into your future life, career and business cannot be concise. Brief business plans are the ‘trend’ now – and I’ve been in business seminars where the keynote speaker promotes these 1-2 page plans and the audience turns into a frenzy ‘wanting’ one. Concise, brief, short business plans awaken the ‘lazy’ entrepreneur who’s amused by the idea of not having to work or ‘think.’
I had this one Personal Trainer approach me wanting coaching advice based on his business ‘plan.’ You guessed it; a colourful 1 pager with 7 bright headings and 3 dot points for each. Get this: He wanted business and marketing ideas – and execution steps revolving around his plan. After booking his first appointment, he came to me and asked… “I want to build my PT business. Here’s my business plan. What marketing ideas can you come up with and how can I structure it to be successful?”
“Is this some sort of joke…?” I replied in a slow, cold staring, disturbed look on my face.
“What do you mean?” He asked. “This is the exact template the speaker emailed me from the business seminar I went to last week.”
After a long sigh, I looked at him and said… “Where’s your marketing and sales plan?” Where are your financials? Your projections? Your competitive analyses? Your strengths? Your differentiation? Your target market? Your niche? Risk management? I mean… where the HELL is your business plan!!?”
After his head dropped and arms stiffened up… he slowly sat back in his chair – quiet, calm, with nothing to say.
I continued… “You came to me with your ‘plan’ – asking me to plan it for you. All you have here is a piece of paper that doesn’t tell you or me anything. Let me guess… the person who promoted this garbage to you is now trying to upsell his business and marketing services so you can better plan your business, correct?”
His head snapped back and in a gushing voice replied… “Yeah, how’d you know…?”
You see, business plans are meant to plot the whole course – and as a minimum explain the viability of your business, the big picture, the challengers expected whilst at the same time keeping you motivated and in control.
The plan should also be dynamic and having room to change and edit as reality of circumstances set in.
And just in case you didn’t know, the biggest section of any business plan is the marketing and sales plan. It’s this section banks look at most, then compare it with your financial projections and link it with the feasibility of your business. Based on your structure of those categories, banks determine your risk and gamble against the approval of your loan.
But before you dive in and write one… you must understand the definition of marketing.
The word has been around long enough and has earnt itself a stand-alone definition. You don’t need to look up similar words and try ‘guess’ the definition. A lot of sociopathic business coaches would tell you it’s got to do with sales and bringing your product to sale and convincing your customers to buy… or they might tell you it’s the education of a product and convincing your customers to buy it.
That’s the definition of marketing for sociopaths.
Here’s the REAL definition: A set of activities you do which communicates to your target audience in exchange for a response.
You see, marketing doesn’t have to always result in ‘sales’. It has nothing to do with buying or selling. It has nothing to do with products or services. Buying, Selling, Advertising, PR, Communication, Education and so on – are all vehicles of marketing; parts of marketing. They themselves are not marketing.
Here’s the AMA (American Association of Marketing) approved definition:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
(Approved July 2013).
Not even they say it has anything to do with ‘buying’ or ‘selling’ or ‘educating’.
Here’s a non-money example: If you’d like a group of people to respond to you or think of you in a certain way, then you may engage in the process of dressing differently, talking differently, acting differently – to get the response you desire.
In other words, the way you’ve designed those processors and the response you received becomes your marketing. If the response was favourable, then the marketing was successful. If the response was unfavourable, then you may need to try a different structure.
Here it is again: It’s a pre-defined process to get people responding in a certain way. It’s a set of processors to get a response. That’s all it is. You must understand that.
Now, if you’re using a marketing process to get people responding to give you money – that’s fine. Marketing can be used for that, but getting people to give you money is NOT marketing. It’s a vehicle of marketing.
You must be clear on the definition so you understand exactly the kinds of responses you need in your business and the processors required to get those responses.
For example, in your business plan – you may have a section called marketing and under it, you may include the processors for:
- Advertising Schedule.
- Your PR Schedule.
- Sales Funnel (steps involved).
- Upselling Strategies.
- Maintenance of Public Image.
- Education for Potential Buyers Schedule.
- Marketing Themes.
- Local Business Cross Promotion.
and the list goes on.
Now that you understand the proper definition of marketing, ask yourself this question: Are you ready for a full, well thought-out business plan?
When writing a business plan, here are a few topics you must cover and the questions to ask:
- Your long-term vision, the big picture; not just starting a business but staying in business.
- The reason why you’re in business; your motivations of wanting to be in this business.
- The viability of your idea. Is there enough demand for it? If so, explain the proof.
- Is your business going to be profitable? Where’s the proof of it meeting your financial objections?
- Would you need outside capital to start?
- What are the barriers to each stage of your success?
- What problems do you anticipate?
- Have you gathered enough about your industry so you can properly investigate it?
- Are your strengths and weaknesses truthfully revealed and do you know where you need assistance?
- When handing your business plan to potential investors, will it be able to ‘sell’ the idea and make people interested investing in you?
Why You’re More Than Just A ‘Marketer’.
After having read this post, you’re now realising you’re more than just a ‘marketer’. You’re not in the marketing and sales business. You’re in the PT business which involves everything we’ve talked about today. I’ve seen first-hand fitness businesses fail despite aggressive sales and marketing efforts. If your services are not welcome or if competition is too fierce – then a proper business plan would have saved you.
Let me say it again: A PROPER, WELL THOUGHT BUSINESS PLAN WOULD HAVE SAVED YOU. And with proper market research, you would understand your competition, environment and feasibility of your business. Just a marketing plan or a series of marketing strategies don’t always work – no matter how good they are.
You must understand the whole business you’re truly in, including being able to anticipate potential set-backs, challengers – and analysing your risk, intelligently.
If you now understand the true nature of being in business and how much work is involved, then – you can confidently say you’re in the PT Business.
If you need assistance in structuring your fitness business with a proper business plan along with a robust marketing plan, then head over to http://ptpowerclub.com.au and see if you’re ready to start working with me.