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Powerful Business Planning

Lesson 20 of 20

Asking the Right Questions

Barbara Findlay Schenck

Powerful Business Planning

Barbara Findlay Schenck

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Lesson Info

20. Asking the Right Questions

Lesson Info

Asking the Right Questions

Be sure when you're done that you address all the right questions I'm a dummies author in the back of every dummies book are the parts of ten everything is a ten point list here's a ten point list what ten questions should you be sure your business plan answers? What business are you in? Why do or will customers buy from you? You need to answer that for you and you need to answer that for anyone who's looking at your business plan what does or will your business make money? This is your testing out your business plan whether you write it out in the business plan template that I've given you here or whether you stop with the write it down questions that are in the planning templates either way go through when you're done and say, does it answer this question? How does or will this business make money? What will it take to implement this plan and where will the funds and actually think of this is also the resource is remember the growth resource is checklist I gave you where will the res...

ource is come from? What does it cost to run this business and will revenues exceed costs and that's what? I want you to factor in salary? I want you to factor in what you're worth you are worth a lot what would you charge somebody else to hire you factor that in you may not be making enough money in your business right now to pay that salary but know that you're worth it and that until then you are funding this business out of the salary you could be making because you believe in it and it will inspire you to make sure it's working because you're only gonna want alone it so much who are your customers? Why will they buy what will they spend? Not just why will they buy but what will they spend that means how often will they buy? How much will they buy? What level of you're offering will they buy and part of this is that you can start answering them what would it take to make them buy more? What would it take to get them to spend more? This might feature back to your product strategies how will you reach customers how well you maintain relationships because if you're getting one time customers only that's the most expensive way to do business even if you have what I call a transactional product that they only buy at once you still want to maintain a relationship to make sure they loved it they speak well of it because minimally even if they're not going to buy alone again you want them to become the mouth piece that leads people back to your business because remember what I said people trust their friends and their social media friends more than they trust the advertiser so how will you reach customers how we maintain relationships number seven what sets you apart from competitors give some serious thought to this make sure you have a clear answer what gives your business and edge because that factors back into that whole purpose statement how can you say and we we prove it like this they should choose us for this when you know what your edges you know what you can offer as your head spinning introduction that will bring them along what are your key strengths and weaknesses this is get riel get real what are we best at what are we weakest at and of those weaknesses which ones are affecting our success some of them might not might not be affecting your success at all but those that are what are we going to do to make him stronger? What are your biggest business challenges and how are you addressing them this is a good one to do a brainstorm with uh with your mentors even what challenges do you think are on our horizon? Which ones are we facing right now? Morale might be the issue whatever it is how are we going to address how will you measure success this gets back to one of the questions we got online when do we when do we bail well you bail when you're not achieving on on a tactic when it's not achieving its a you helping you achieve the objective, you'll never know that if you didn't know how you were going to measure success sales new clients enquiries lead generation number of hits on your web site I don't care what it is you need to know I do care, but I can't tell you what it is you need to care and you need to be able to tell yourself what success are we going for so that we can measure it and use that as the barometer to know when we're going to change things? Because it's not the plan that's important it's the planning I started with this unending with this, but I want you to know this much it's all about the planning and to use the fortune cookie analysis I want you to have great fortune in your business with finances for sure, but also with the pleasure of knowing you've done the right thing. You're doing the right thing. You're not confused, you're not zigging and zagging all the time when you put it in writing for that business plan period, you will enormously increase your odds of getting where you want to go minimally promise that you will work on the templates if you stop there, I'm happy if you put it in writing it's even better, I do want to just go to our studio audience person just say we'd love to hear you know your final thoughts on what you got out of the last couple days, what your takeaway moment is what's inspired you from this will come back to you a little bit troublesome to thinking about that so you don't look absolutely stunned when we come to you, because that happens. Sometimes they will report to that. But here's a question from yesterday and the reason I brought it up again because you just mentioned it that are you running your company out of your checkbook on lord? Easy, ws said, I'm wondering about your personal credit card that says the same thing. She has a joint card with a spouse, but the spouse is not in the corporation or the llc. She thinks it will complicate things further. She goes on using it. I think the answer is yes, but I want to hear it from you. There are many reasons she should have a business card, and it sounds like she has a corporation and corporations protect you from personal liability. But if there were a liability challenge and they could show that you, in fact were mingling everything and using a lot of personal, using your personal credit card and even paying it with a personal check. In some ways it makes you a little less immune you're never totally immune but it is really, really worth it particularly with the corporation to make sure everything is separate if she wants to occasionally put something on her personal card she has to do what any other employee doesn't turn out, turn in a reimbursement request and handle it operationally so it's refunded from the business and you know even when we own the business we used to turn in personal reimbursement requests you run your business like a business and that's for a corporation but it's not that different for a small business you know, in a partnership and we had it wasn't structured a partnership but it was a partnership when one of us I mean in our business she needed a second initial if you bought something more than a thousand dollars even if I was buying something one thousand dollars peter would initially I mean you treat your business like a business you put aside the standing relationships that work in your personal life and you say this is my business life it will be run like a business get a business checking a crowd if you use your personal checking account be sure that you reimburse in a very formal manner so that you capture all expenses for tax purposes and every other reason and also to protect the liability of was that a business or personal issue we have. We have a question from miss geese. Does pay for freelance writers varies wildly, and you advise me about how to price web, coffee, e books and blogged post in a way that demands the highest price but also still land jobs. And then ms g followed up with them. At what point do you need? Perfect them? Yes, at what point do you need professional tools like paid sierra mes to manage your business? It looks like they work as a freelance, and they worked as a freelancer and manage relationships of the email and spreadsheets. So they're looking to know when to graduate to a more sophisticated system by syrian contact relation man relationship management. You all know that when you have a small we'll start with. I always start with the easy part of the answer and that's, probably easier than many. When you have a very, very small list, you can do it on your own, the sooner you get to anything from constant contact, too. What is it nutshell the different ones and they're all in my different books in terms of and actually in fearless marketing if you get that when I list a lot of the contact relationship management programs what's wonderful about them is not on lee do they help you manage your contacts? They also help you with formatting your emails in such a way that they get past a lot of the stamp spam filters and html conflicts that don't open or html barriers that cause them not to open on certain devices and they help you adhere to can spam rules so I think as soon as you have a big contact management list minimally get contact relationship management software and then decide do you need a relationship manager as well? I would really venture to guess a lot of people don't but I don't know how large her contact list is in regard to pricing freelance services if you were calling maybe she couldn't be here during the pricing section when I talk about you have to decide what an hour of your time is going to cost and the best way to do that is to say how much do I want to make this year? How much am I worth if I went to get it job what salary would I demand and I used the term fifty thousand dollars just as a starting point I don't care what never you plug it then you say how many hours a year can I sell? There are two thousand eighty hours in a forty hour work week year forty times fifty two is two thousand eighty most service providers cannot sell more than seventy five percent of those hours because they need at least twenty five percent of those hours tio for new business for organization for managing their business for taking a vacation for taking a sick day so you times two thousand eighty by seventy five percent of the slides not in front of me but I think that gives you fifteen hundred sixty hours a year that you can sell that's how many you can sell so you divide the fifty thousand that you want to sell to make a year by the fifteen, one hundred sixty hours that you in fact consult a year and you get your hourly rate and I think when we did it yesterday it was sixty nine dollars I'm not sure that you have to check this life whatever that number is you say that's really what I need to make an hour or else I need to sell three quarters of the hours available and I need to make this much on average per hour or I'm not going to make enough money to make my salary and then you work backwards and you say how long does it take me to do a block post if it takes two hours we need to charge one hundred twenty five dollars for a block post if it takes, you know, whatever it takes and you let people know on average are rate for that is one hundred twenty five dollars you don't need to tell them that's two hours of time, blah, blah, because then they start wondering, well, when they're talking to you is that part of the time or whatever, and they get real mitt picky about the time you don't need to go into the mechanics of how you got there, but typically we charge one hundred twenty five per block block post. Certainly something more technical would go more, but it gives you a sense and then I can work with you on a budget and that type thing that's what I would do, I would always start with knowing how much you need to make to make a profit. Fantastic. Now we got a question from d touch details is really struggling with how to define their unique selling proposition, or that the u s piers in common powers and saying they're having trouble getting their very best clients to elaborate why they prefer me over others that gives you no genetic reasons, and but they keep coming back for his services. So it's confusing for him and he's really hoping to define this? Do you have any sort of tips on how we would be able to get that information get those teachers so he can define his usp on dh then the next question is is it okay to use a hashtag for their usp something very, very well you know what I would know about the hash? What I would say about the hashtag again taking the easy part first is find out how much your customers use social media hash tags are very valuable and very annoying to a lot of people hashtag started out to be something that was on twitter and now you see them on everything from sandwich boards for uh cafes at lunch restaurants to whatever else and a lot of people are annoyed by them. So in your twitter handle sometimes it's worth it to put your hashtag just so that anybody searching that field gets to you I took them out of mine because I just found that so many people are annoyed by kind of an onslaught of hashtag I think that really comes down to knowing your audience how into that kind of thing kind of how hip to that kind of social media language are they frankly it's the same thing of using a motor coms emoticons or using l a well, lomunno am out whatever all that stuff is your customer into all that or is it annoying? Um so it customer knowledge you cannot have too much of it in terms of and one of my books I have a deal of getting real about your brand and questions to ask and I'm looking for those one of the things you can ask is some around around the clients don't know how to define your brand anymore than you do but sometimes you can ask them if you had to compare us to a car would it be a volkswagen are cadillac um if your movie star would would be johnny depp or somebody else sometimes you can do that type thing with a really good customer and you'd let them know look it we are working so hard on perfecting our brand image you are one of our very best customers can we have a half a now after a really good lunch to ask you some questions and when you think about our business what other three businesses do you think about if we weren't here what would you most miss if you had to go to somebody else tomorrow? You know ask him a few questions and then quit asking um because they're not elaborate they are your customer so be careful that it's anecdotal that it's conversational that you appreciate and you let them know that you appreciate it even with a gift or something else later but I think it's okay to ask your questions but don't ask him directly what do you think the strength of our brand is? They don't know if you don't know I would they know they probably don't know the strength of their own brand and let them know if ever I could do the same for you I stand by I just read this book branding for dummies or whatever and I'm really working on this could I just get this much time? Thank you we have another question and it goes back to the conversation we've been having with this through line and but it deals with name and branding k g p says struggling with name branding I'm starting a photography business and want a specific niche if I include that mention my name, it locks me into that I want the flexibility to shoot other things should I go with the specific name anyways? Or I feel like if I include that niche part of my business in the name it will really differentiate differentiate me from others in this field. So shallow does she say her niche does not know on I mean, I know look from a from a customer standpoint I'm thinking like if their wedding photographer from a customer standpoint, I don't want to hire a general photographer if I'm hiring you know I want somebody who's specifies so I think part of the answer hinges on how trendy or the length of the opportunity that their niche addresses weddings are going to go on right now there's going to be a spike in weddings and weddings will go on on the other hand, if what you are celebrating is if you this is not photography but cupcakes as I mentioned, I'd be really hesitant about putting that in my name. I might put that in my direction in my description but you have to say, how enduring is this? How long do I want to stick with this as my primary focus? And even then if there's a way that they could let's just say it was weddings and they pull off something that alludes to weddings without out in out saying wedding so that they become specialists and winnings but if some day they want to add something else it's expandable expandable would be my preference but if they know that if they really are confident that the arena they serve is going to continue to be a strong market place it's okay to focus ok, people are going to keep having pets so then that's safe go ahead and media face but on the other hand, if you're do do they want to just do pets if they want to just do pets for now and for they know that's where they want to stick, then go ahead, put the pits and I think that what it sounds like to me what they're saying is they definitely want to do pets, but they don't want to be locked that they want to be able to do other stuff also in addition to that, so they want to be known for doing pets, but they don't be known for only doing pets right? Trump is tricky, I think obviously there's a lot of words that out there that are taken, but if it was something about this spirit you bring to the photography so it's it's the loves now yeah, things like love it's the elements so that if it were taking pictures of your kids, it's still that same spirit that you bring to your product, what makes you special, and then if you had a lot of pet photos be known, lauren just said, love snap now I'm not suggesting that's the name, but the point is you love this and you could then you know, underneath that your tag line because chances are a lot of people actually don't just photograph the pat. My guess is there's a lot of times it's pet with the owner pet with the children's children, so if you could come up with something that embodies the spirit of what you deliver and use your tag line to, um the love chris martin also pet you know people call people their pet like their love where they're like my pet yeah I got to tell you this again I'm going to say it again this is small business small business people want to help small business people come up having names, share it around and then at some point though dare to take a stand because the longer you have people voting you know they say a horse camel is a horse created by committee so you want to be sure that it's not something that gets all the rough edges that might have insulted anybody rubbed off to where it's just such a kn innocuous term so figure out what this person is trying to achieve is a name that completely builds trust with pet owners, exudes confidence and builds credibility for their for their unique niche of photographing pets but could expand to something else that's so they want to achieve once they come up with the name that they think does it test it with a few people and go with it? You cannot put it up for public vote creative ideas do not hold up to that but they do hold up to knowing what it needs to accomplish and evaluating it against that and finding a few people to test it with yes mother questions but do you wanna ask on another one saying with photography join us diane's question sure, absolutely, I'm diane lundgren photography asked, and I can relate to this a bit as well, and so I'm kind of curious to hear your thoughts. How do you really figure out what makes you unique? Says she's, a new she has a new photography business, though not a new photographer this is the one thing I keep stumbling on it is what makes her unique absolutely well, one of the things I've always told clients is to say, who are your customers and what would they most miss if you weren't here tomorrow? And you know, it's, sometimes surprising what that answer is that year, the place where they always get eminem's in the lobby? I mean, I don't know what it is, but what would they most miss? What do they don't get? What do they not get somewhere else if you could? If you can begin to come up with some answers to that question, what would they miss if you weren't there? You begin to know your unique point of difference and what attracts people to you, and it isn't always your direct experience aa lot of times it's an esteem, they feel it's that they come in and they know that you also photograph for the gap or whatever, and that just makes them feel better about buying from you it might be your clientele in which case you would know to really put that forward it might be that and they want to have their pictures on that same wall of sample photos with those other really made chur um it might be that they know you won awards and they like those awards but find out what would they most miss if you left, what would they most try to replicate? Sometimes you can ask them be careful about asking to directly because you don't want people to see you sweat you don't want them to know that you're in anyway in disarray or trying to grow or whatever but it is ok to say you're one of our best clients we want to get ten more just like you or whatever and and try to figure that out but I think it's one place to start with point of distinction now d c is asking I'm not sure line of what d c is ever the same what is your advice in terms of developing a plan for a current location knowing that you intend to live somewhere else at some point you're going to move that business somewhere else should you develop in more generically or very specifically for where you are now? Never tie your business name to geography if you think one of two things you don't want to continue to be there or you don't want to continue to just serve that market I think they're asking necessarily just about the names and developing their plan based on where they are right now. So let's, let's just say there in d c and that's what's going to start their business and they don't see develop their plan for the local market. But their intention is to move to california. Should they be going to open a market. Yes, in california. So I'm just using random well, what you would do is your strategic plan right now is how you are going to build market share in the geographic market that you currently target. And maybe over this year you are going to research opening a new market in another market area, and you're going to determine what's the competitive environment. What are the growth trends for people who fit your demographic description, whatever in that new market and then you open a new market now coming to x y z, but you do have to be a little careful, because this is a very old story. But when we lived in honolulu, um, there was bank of hawaii. It was bank of away they love to why we're the bank of hawaii and then they opened and it was we wouldn't want to be the bank of anywhere else in the world. And then they opened in I think it was tonga one of the pacific islands and there was just a lot of backslash, well, so much for not wanting to be the bank of anywhere else in the world. So you do have to be careful that when you build your positioning statement and the brand promise people trust that it is elastic enough that when you make the changes that you think will be making your business, khun go there. And in choosing your business name, which we went into yesterday in the structure section, those were the questions I had to ask can you live with it? Can you grow with it? So don't limit your name, don't limit your brand promise if you don't limit those things than any growth strategy is achievable, ok, but here's a question from greg and greg's asking what talking about scaling greatest car obviously currently a freelancer on this asking is the best way to scale from being a freelancer or one person business? Is it to serve mohr higher ticket clients? Offering a wider range of services to start a company with offices paid employees et cetera which can then be scaled accordingly is that the natural path is that the best way to go that's one way to go that way says you're going to build the number of service providers in your business and therefore be able to serve more people you're going to scale by scaling your operation to match the growth of your clientele another way to scale is to develop more streams of revenue to say we're also going to offer products that begins to get scaleable in some ways simply building a service that you could keep hiring more people to help you deliver isn't entirely scaleable in that it still costs you for every point of delivery you're hiring more people it's off your shoulders but what it used to cost you you're now just giving that it would get bento much a whole bunch of people nothing got cheaper about giving it to the client nothing got less costly to your business scaleable means for each one you deliver your prices actually go down think of printing the old printing when you used to actually print brochures and some people still do the first one if you only order ten it is sky high expensive unless you do print on demand and even print on demand is nothing compared to the cost of traditionally printing thirty thousand books at a time printing is a scaleable offering each one gets cheaper than the last one if all you're doing is hiring more people your business congratulate congrats very well that doesn't completely make it scaleable in the sense of the world word that you keep getting more and more profitable from the north yeah I think we may have covered this yesterday but we might want to do a little bit of a review she was asking how do we go about putting together my team of advisers during the business planning process if you have professional relationships and attorney in an accountant I think it's worth it to take a draft of your plan to them and have them review from their professional point of view have you covered the legal basis have you covered the financial basis? I would also suggest that you find someone in your business arena who's not directly competitive with you and often that someone in your your industry association we happened in the ad agency to have the american association of ad agencies which we used really very I wouldn't say heavily but regularly with questions going to conferences saying here's where we are here's where we're going so someone in your industry is a really good way to get very targeted information about your business that doesn't reveal anything to a competitors another thing is to find someone who's in your market area who's successful and get that person someone you just admire someone who you know is good and you asked them, can I ask you to look at this and you do it in such a way that sometimes you asked him, can I count on you quarterly and quarterly for one meeting? And they may say yes and they may say no and that's okay, um, antonio nebs in one of in small business marking kit for dummies, he says, pick up the phone. Just ask even if you're afraid to call, what if they don't want to talk to me? So what? Pick up the phone? They probably I do want to talk to you. He gives really a nice sidebar on howto actually reach out to people. So many of us hide behind so much social media, he says, pick up the phone call someone and always. He also led me to another person, ron jay, would j j mon williams, who helped me with a thing of how do you make an introduction? And you always say, you figure out who who is really in the position of power in this relationship? Who has the least time the most power? It's probably the person you're calling, not you, so you figure out what will make it valuable to them. Even if it's just a compliment, even if it's to say, I know you're busy and here's in order to get, and I know we both have the same objective to build more successful businesses in this market area. If I hold it down to three questions, can I visit with you for a half an hour, once again, once a quarter and get your advice so adapt to their needs? Understand that you are asking someone who is in a loftier position in this particular circumstance in your and so you're not just saying, oh, and can we just talk? No, so fantastic? Well, thank you for all your questions out there today. Apologies. We didn't get to all of them. Yesterday. Today we got to the men's. We can, thanks to rachel in the chapmans for moderating and getting them on through to us.

Class Description

Tens of thousands of new small businesses are started every year -- does yours have a concrete plan in place to ensure it succeeds? Join marketing strategist and small business advocate Barbara Findlay Schenck for an introduction to fast-track business planning.

Throughout this course, you’ll learn how to write and implement a business plan by clarifying your goals: how much time you have to devote to your business, how many people need to buy your product, and how much money you’ll be able to make. You’ll also learn how to set up your business legally and legitimately -- without dipping into your personal finances. Barbara will also cover the marketing and finance skills every small business owner needs to know.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a smart, strategic plan for starting, managing, and growing your business.


a Creativelive Student

Really looking forward to this course with great anticipation to learn how to put a comprehensive business plan together for a full-time & part-time wedding & portrait photography business, what are the important steps involve to create a business plan and what all should be included in such plan, when or if you should amend your business plan, should you have two business plans (a simple plan & a very detail plan).

Christina Majoinen

This course was great. I'm at the very beginning stages of creating my business, and this course really helped me to think through everything I need to plan for.


Great class!!