I recently attended a conference session about creating 1 year, 3 year and 5 year plans for you business. The speaker, Liz Weber, posed some very interesting and introspective questions. I wanted to share with you some of my key takeaways and how I’m using them in my business, and with the wedding and event business with whom I consult. My biggest takeaway was that my 1 year plan can be written in ink, but my 3 year, 5 year (and longer if you want) will be in pencil (or dry-erase marker if you prefer). While I have my 1 year plan written in ink, I keep the white-out handy (as when I do the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink). As I look back at my current business (a little over 4 years now as an independent speaker, author, consultant and sales trainer) I can see that I’ve changed my business model and product/service mix a few times. There are certain services I used to offer that I no longer do. There are others that have been added to my product/service mix that I hadn’t imagined 4 years ago. Still others proved to be either not profitable, or not enjoyable for me; both good reasons to vote them off my island.
I hesitate to use the word "goals" because my uncle once told me that setting goals is self-limiting. The way interpret that is to do the best we can, every time. Don’t limit yourself with a number or target. While I look at the numbers and know what minimum I need to cover my expenses, the upper limit is not something I want to set. It’s what I’ll achieve if I give it my best shot, every day. Whether you use the word “goals” is up to you.
You can’t hit a target you can’t see
If you do set yourself a target you need a roadmap to get there. I was recently consulting with an entertainment company who told me about the number of weddings & events they wanted to do. Comparing that to what they are currently doing, they’re going to need to ramp up their staff of entertainers, plus their back-end team and infrastructure. Getting to that aspirational number is not possible with their current team. They’re already doing a pretty good job of filling their calendar in the busy months, and in the wedding business you can’t reach your goal if it means filling 52 Saturday nights a year for each member of your team. It’s not a realistic road map. You need to look at the busy season (easier to do if you’ve been in business for a while) and calculate your realistically available inventory. How many weddings and events will you need to do to get to your target? Can you do that with your current staff? Can you do that with your current equipment/facilities? If not, what will it take to get there and what steps do you have to take to get there?
Show me the money
If your target is a certain dollar amount the same questions apply. What’s your current average sale? If you don’t know just make a spreadsheet of all of the weddings and events you did over the last year and calculate an average. On a side note that’s a good exercise to do anyway, so you’ll know how many events you actually do and the revenue they bring in. If you want to take it one step further you can calculate the profit on each event to see the difference between volume and profitability.
Create the road map of how you’re going to get to your target dollar amount. How many of each type of event will you need to do? Can you do that with your current staffing? Are you getting enough leads to fill those slots? If not then what steps will you need to take to reach that target?
Life gets in the way
When you’re doing your future planning you should consider personal as well as professional goals and aspirations. It’s much easier to afford that big vacation if you’ve been putting aside money each month. It’s even better to have the time blocked off on your calendar and having already figured that into your above targets of money and number of events. The same goes for college and retirement savings. Time is the one factor that is not only limited, you can’t play catch up. The compounding effect of time has one of the biggest impacts on future investment returns.
Leading by example
Accountability is a big factor in staying on track. Sharing your goals and aspirations with others makes you accountable to them when they ask “How’s that going?”. My current list includes writing my next book, becoming fluent in Spanish and a new business idea (stay tuned for that one, it’s about to launch). The book is in progress, I’ve been studying Spanish for almost 3 years (he estudiado hace casi tres años) and the new business has the website and backend started. Oh, and I hired an assistant earlier this year because there was no way I could do everything I wanted alone.
What’s on your list?
A good place to start is to make a list of things you’d like to accomplish, personally and professionally. Then prioritize your list and keep your top 3 or 4 items. Working on just a few things will make it easier to take action. If this sounds a lot like the story in my mini-book “Don’t Paint the House” or stories in “Your Attitude for Success” it’s because they are. There are very few big goals that we can achieve in a day. Most take planning and lots of small steps that have to first happen. Breaking down big projects into smaller steps make them seem more attainable and gives you little “wins” every time you take tangible action on them. I wish you much success in whatever you decide and I look forward to hearing your stories of success.
Alan Berg is a business consultant and the wedding and event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®, the highest-earned designation for a professional speaker, and a featured speaker at Catersource® each year. Find out more at www.AlanBerg.com. Get more business ideas at Alan’s online learning portal www.WeddingIndustryInsiders.com