Business Systems Series: How to Create a System for Your Email Marketing

How to Create a System for Your Email MarketingEmail marketing is an important marketing tool for your business. But creating and sending emails can be almost as time-consuming as blog posts. You have to create your content, edit and format your email, make sure all links are working and add free downloads if necessary. I have good news though, it doesn’t have to be so time-consuming!

By creating a system for your email marketing, you’re able to create and send emails quickly and efficiently. You’ll also be able to streamline as many processes as you can so you don’t even have to worry about it.

Set up a content calendar

A content calendar doesn’t just have to be for your blog posts, it can be for your emails too! Map out your content calendar to include blog posts and emails so you can strategize the timing of each topic. This will get your mind rolling with ideas and easier to plan your emails around blog posts and launches.

To make my email marketing go smoothly, I don’t just add the subject of my email to my content calendar. I add a few bullet points and what my goal is for that email. Decide if you want them to click to your blog post after reading, download a lead magnet or sign up for your course. This way, when you sit down to write your email, you aren’t starting with a blank page and have your main ideas and goal ready to go.

Be your own editor

If you don’t have someone editing and proofreading your emails, the Grammarly app is a huge help. It automatically spellchecks and catches any grammar errors. Systems with built-in spell check only check that words are spelled correctly, while Grammarly actually checks that proper grammar is used everywhere. It catches where commas should be, where a plural is in a spot a singular word should be and that proper uses of words are used (like their, there, they’re). While Grammarly can’t catch every single thing in your email, I’ve found that it catches about 90 – 95% of mistakes.

Create an email template

Save yourself the time of adding a photo, your signature and social icons into every email by creating email templates. Creating templates in MailChimp is really simple and can be done in a few easy steps. If you’re using ConvertKit, there’s a little more to it and takes some coding. Don’t be afraid of the word ‘coding’ though! It’s much easier than you think. 

You might have different templates for different emails you send out. Your weekly newsletter is probably a different template than your free email course. Create all your templates so you can just fill in the content each time you need to create a new email.

Formatting your emails

Decide how you want your emails to be formatted. Some people like to include graphics and different colors, while others prefer simple text. Choose a format and stick to it so you’re consistent in your email marketing. In ConvertKit, I added a couple lines of code to my email template to create headers that matched my brand and could easily be added. Now, instead of having to edit each header, I can just add ‘h1’, ‘h2, or ‘h3’ to my email. Below is the simple code to add after ‘message-content’ to create your headers! Of course, choose your own font, size and color to match your brand.

convertkit email header code

Choose day + time

Sending out your newsletter on the same day and time each week will keep you accountable and your audience will know when they can expect to hear from you. If you don’t send your newsletters out on a specific time and day yet, test out a couple different times. You want to know when your emails get the highest open rates and works with your audience’s schedule (and overflowing inbox).

Email automation

Anything that can be automated in your emails, should be. It will save you a lot of time trying to email things out to different people and getting it out on time. Start by automating your welcome email and create a sequence to follow that email that builds your audience’s trust. You want to educate them, provide value and share your products and services with them. If you have an email course, free or paid, set it up automatically so the content is already created and ready to be sent.

You know have a system for emails and social media!

Business Systems Series: Setup a Social Media System

Setup a Social Media SystemThroughout the entire month of January I’ll be hosting a blog series: Business Systems Series. Each week, I’ll cover 1 area of your business that you can set up a system for to save you time in your business. By the end of January, you’ll have 5 new systems in place for your business so you can get your tasks done quickly, and of course, efficiently.

The first area of your business we’ll create a system for is social media. If you want to run your social media accounts effectively and not have to spend a ton of time doing it, set up a system. A social media system can hugely impact the amount of time it takes to post on your accounts.

By managing social media accounts for multiple clients, and for my own business, I’ve learned the best ways to create consistent content, stay organized and always have fresh content to share. I’m also giving you the exact template I use to easily organize all my social media posts. 

Decide on a Scheduling System

Social media can take up a TON of your time. If you see people posting on social media all day long, don’t think they’re sitting at their computer posting things every hour. They schedule posts in advance so they don’t have to worry about posting consistently and staying connected to their audience.

I recently switched my social media scheduling over to SmarterQueue (affiliate link) and have been totally loving it. You can create evergreen content so you can have your important stuff – like promotions, blog posts and freebies – constantly getting in front of your audience.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A social media system can hugely impact the time it takes to post on your accounts” quote=”A social media system can hugely impact the time it takes to post on your accounts” theme=”style1″]

Other platforms you can check out are Buffer and Hootsuite. Buffer is great if you want a simple, straight to the point, scheduling system. There isn’t much of a learning curve and you can start scheduling within seconds. Hootsuite is a little more robust and I was honestly a little intimidated the first time I had to use it for a client! Once I got the hang of it though, it was pretty easy to use. This is great if you have a lot of platforms to manage for clients. 

Create a Social Media Calendar

Creating a social media calendar really helps with post ideas when you aren’t sure what to post. It’s also a great way to make sure you’re posting a variety of content. Depending on how many times a day you post on social media, you can create different time slot categories. Here’s a peek at what my social media calendar looks like:

Here's a peek at what my social media calendar looks like.

You can see I switch between a variety of posts to make sure I’m not sharing the same things over and over. I love the visual I get of my entire week of content so I can see what I should post more or less of.

The trick to creating a social media calendar is to be intentional with your categories. For example, I want to help my audience create systems and automations in their business so my “tips” category gives them bite-sized tips they can put into action right away. It won’t make sense to your audience if you have a category for fitness tips if your business is about how to sell on Etsy. Choose 5-10 categories you can share on a weekly basis that directly relate to your business and your audience. For each category, write down why you want to share that type of content with your audience. This way you weed out any unnecessary categories.

Create a Content Vault

When I started posting consistently on social media, I found myself struggling to come up with new posts for the same content regularly. Each week I was wasting so much time trying to come up with fresh ideas for my posts.

I finally created a spreadsheet with a list of every single thing I wanted to share on social media. This included my blog posts, newsletter, my free course and paid services. Then, I created 3 different post ideas for each of them. I included the link and image that needed to be added to the posts so I had everything I needed in the same document. If you want to eventually outsource your social media posting, this will make transitioning your scheduling to a Social Media Manager or Virtual Assistant incredibly easy.

Here’s what my social media content vault looks like:

Create a file that holds all your social media posts.

If you’re ready to organize your social media posts, get your very own Social Media Vault!

It’s all setup for you to add your content and get organized on social media. You can select your categories so you can sort through them, and add to the drop down list to customize your categories.

Create Graphic Templates

Creating graphics can be one of those time sucking, tedious tasks. Not anymore! By creating a template that you save in Canva or Photoshop, you’re able to add in your text, maybe an image and you’re good to go.

I organized my Photoshop template so I can easily edit the text, middle or background of my template. All I have to do is edit the text and choose what color background I want and my graphic is complete.

create graphic templates using photoshop

Create Graphic Templates for All Accounts

The images you create for Pinterest and your blog are usually much bigger than what you would post on Facebook and Twitter. You want to create a template for your long, pinnable images to post as your Featured Image on your blog and your Pinterest image. But you also want smaller images that are easily viewable on other platforms.

The previews you see when you post a link in Facebook or Twitter are great. But, having your own social media graphics that fit perfectly in the link preview are better. Most people create long featured images for their blog posts so the words get cut off when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Create a template specifically for your Twitter and Facebook image. This way, your audience doesn’t need to click on the image to see the entire thing.

Always Have Fresh Content to Share

Sharing blog posts from other businesses will help you connect with people in your industry AND give your audience helpful information that you don’t share on your blog. You want to share content from people who compliment your business. Similar to hosting a webinar, you wouldn’t want to host a webinar with someone who does the exact same thing as you.

Find people in your industry who compliment your business and can provide value to your audience. Stay up to date with their posts by setting up an RSS feed or following them on BlogLovin. When you want to incorporate their content into your social media calendar, check out your feed to see what their latest posts are. Instead of having to check out each person’s blog, you have all of their new content in one place for you to easily grab and create a social media post for.

Grab your FREE social media vault below!

 

Top 3 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business

Top 3 Ways a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your BusinessYou’ve probably thought about how great it would be to outsource some of your most time-consuming tasks. The problem is, you may be unsure how to justify taking the plunge and hiring a Virtual Assistant. Here are 3 ways a Virtual Assistant can help your business. 

1. You’ll free up time

How much time are you spending on social media, blogging, formatting emails, etc. each day? 10 minutes? 30 minutes? Start tracking the amount of time you spend on these tasks using a free platform like Toggl. You’ll be able to see how much time it takes to share pins on Pinterest each week, integrate LeadPages with your blog posts and format your newsletter.

You won’t just be freeing up more time to spend on your business, you’ll free up time to spend living your life. Your social life called and it would like to make a comeback. Enjoy the freedom that comes along with owning your own business. Like taking off early on a Friday or grabbing a mid-week lunch with a friend from college.

2. You can focus on work you love doing

You started your business to do what you love, but you didn’t realize how many tasks you’d have to do that you absolutely dread. You wanted to coach clients or create courses, not constantly find new posts to share on social media. Most people don’t realize how much time all these repetitive tasks take up each week.

By hiring a Virtual Assistant, you’ll get to focus on the work you love doing and feel happier at the end of the day, not stressed. Never having to worry if your blog post is formatted and all your Yoast settings are filled in again sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

3. You’ll make more money

Think about it. If you get to spend more time growing your business and bringing in new clients, you’re going to grow your business more quickly. You’re able to focus your energy on the big tasks while your Virtual Assistant is running your business behind the scenes.

If you want to learn more about how a Virtual Assistant can help you + your biz, schedule your FREE strategy call with me here.

6 Ways I Get Clients Through Facebook Groups

6 Ways I Get Clients Through Facebook GroupsI have a confession: I’m kind of obsessed with Facebook groups. Mainly because they’re a great way to kill time when I’m avoiding my to-do list. Okay, that’s not the real reason. Facebook groups are a place to create connections and have a go-to community for questions and feedback. Oh yeah, and Facebook groups are where I find most of my clients. I’m not talking about mastermind Facebook groups that you have to pay hundreds or thousands to be a part of. I’m talking about free Facebook groups I’ve joined over the past year that I’ve found incredibly valuable. And bonus: my niche hangs out in them.

Don’t worry, I don’t send out mass messages and “like my page!” suggestions. I just create genuine connections with people, provide valuable tips and feedback and share my services in promotional threads.

Here are 6 strategies you can steal to get clients from Facebook groups:

Focus on a few Facebook groups

I’ve heard people say they’re members of over a hundred Facebook groups and I honestly don’t know how they do it! I’m very picky when it comes to Facebook groups and only choose groups with members who have similar values as I do. I only want to participate in upbeat, supportive and empowering groups because those are the people I want to surround myself with in my business and potentially work with.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. Choose a few Facebook groups where you can provide value, become a familiar face and where you can go to for business advice.  

Engage with people

If someone asks a question or needs help with social media and I can help them, I do. The key here is that I never expect something in return. I don’t post something and casually mention I’m a Social Media + Content Manager and slip in a link to my services page. I help them or cheer them on when they hit a milestone because I genuinely want to. Not because I think it might get a new client.

Search keywords relating to your services

People post in Facebook groups all the time asking for services and recommendations. There’s a search bar in Facebook groups that will sort out the massive amount of posts and only show you what you’re interested in. I’ll type in “Social Media Manager” or “Content Manager” and see if anyone has mentioned that they’re looking for these services. Get creative here because people may not always post your exact title, but need the services you offer. 

Read posts carefully

Maybe it’s a pet peeve but I cringe a little when someone posts “email me if you’re interested” and people just start posting their services or commenting on the post telling the poster to get in touch with them. This is the first encounter you’re having with a potential client and you want to show your attention detail, not your lack of attention to detail. Prep an email that you can easily tailor to multiple people. Make the basis of each email the same by including how you can help them and what the next step is if they’re interested.

Don’t only post about your services

Don’t be that girl who only ever posts about her services or products. Participate in the group because you want to, not just because you’re hoping to get clients. When you provide value in your posts, comments and feedback, members are going to start seeing you as a go-to resource. This way, when they need your services, you aren’t some random person they’ve never seen in the group before.

Take advantage of promotional threads

In most Facebook groups, you can’t post links to your website or offer your services unless there’s a designated promotional thread. Keep track of what days each Facebook group admin posts a promotional thread. Sometimes they even have a collaboration thread where  someone can post that they need a particular service and if anyone in the group can help them.

Create a short and sweet post drawing your ideal audience in so they want to click and learn more. Similar to the copy on your sales page, hit your ideal client or customer’s pain point and tell them what service you’re offering. Just posting a link to your products/services isn’t going to be effective. Approach it as a conversation starter, not a sales pitch. Think about what you would say to your dream client if they were standing right in front you. What would you say to make them buy from you?

Notice there wasn’t any sleazy sales tactics in these strategies? No “slip your website link into every post that even remotes to your services” or “think of ways to get around the no promotion rule”.

These are strategies to help you create genuine connections and share your expertise in Facebook groups. The key isn’t to look at Facebook groups as a bag of money, it’s to look at them as a community you want to be a part of and to become a go-to resource for other members.

Are you getting clients through Facebook groups? Share your strategies in the comments below or share what strategies you’re going to start implementing today!

3 Myths Entrepreneurs Believe About Business Plans

3 Myths Entrepreneurs Believe About Business PlansBack in college, I was writing a business plan for a client, printing page after page, knowing he’d likely never read it.

It was so full of stuff he didn’t need. The difference between him and a typical company was that he was starting an online company, with no intention of selling or showing that business plan to anyone else.

So, all that time I spent looking up news articles to support his idea and then writing a full page discussing why the article supports his idea, was pointless and likely never read.

The typical business plan that my professors had us create for him didn’t suit him and his business needs, because he wasn’t building a typical business.

That’s when I realized that maybe business plans didn’t have to follow any rules or guidelines. It’s a plan for YOUR business, who’s to say you need the same type of business plan as everyone else?

I knew entrepreneurs and small business owners needed a business plan that didn’t quite fit the mold of your typical business plan. When you’re a one-woman show, doing it all and kicking butt you’re probably thinking a business plan isn’t for you.

These are the most common myths that go through your mind when you think about a business plan:

1. It’s only for big companies

You don’t need to make millions or have an office in Manhattan to create a business plan. Think of it as a roadmap for your business. Don’t you want clarity into your next steps by knowing what your goals are and how exactly you’re going to make it all happen? You’ll know what strategies to implement and test each one to make sure you’re getting the most results for your effort.

2. You need to have a lot of employees

It doesn’t matter if your marketing manager, content creator and video editor all happen to be you or if you have a small team. Typical business plans focus on the organizational structure – basically a pyramid of the top dog at the company and break it down into a hierarchy of who reports to who and what everyone’s roles are. I didn’t need that for my business plan (shout out to the ladies building their dreams solo!) so I totally skipped it.

Instead, I focus on what goals I need to reach, how I can make it happen and then break it down into monthly tasks so I can plan out my weeks and days. This way, if I do hire someone, I can see what tasks I need help with and have a clear plan already set out to pass it right along to them.

3. You only need it if you’re looking for investors

Don’t worry, everyone thinks this. And everyone’s wrong. You don’t need to be looking for investors to have a plan for your business. All a business plan means is that you want to create a business that reaches goals, attracts the right people and create systems that allow you to run your life, without it running you. No investors, I promise.

Are you convinced you need a business plan yet or did you decide you want to keep driving yourself crazy keeping your business afloat? Yeah, I thought so!

Grab your free Online Biz Checklist and start working your way through your business plan.

4 Things To Think About When Creating A Business Plan

4 things to think about when creating your business planIf you’ve ever created, or struggle to create, a business plan you may not realize a few key things that you should keep in mind when you’re creating one. Here are 4 things to think about when sitting down to create your business plan.

1. These things are not set in stone

Your business is going to grow and evolve and you’re going to have awesome ideas that you want to implement into your business plan. And that’s okay! Your BP changes with you. You want it to work for you and you can update it as you grow or cut things out that are no longer fulfilling you or showing results.

Don’t feel like you have to stick with something just because you wrote it down in your business plan. As the CEO, you’re able to make the necessary changes to your business that are much needed.

This of course doesn’t mean that just because something is hard, you can give it up. Your BP should stretch you as a business owner and take you out of your comfort zone. Some of your strategies may take quite a bit of work but they’ll pay off when you dedicate yourself to it and don’t give up!

2. Always ask yourself “does this align with my overall business vision”

You don’t want to start a bunch of strategies or create products that don’t align with the big “why” behind your business. Sure, sharing an Instagram pic of the latest love story you’re reading is fine to give your audience a glimpse into your life, but starting a monthly post series on what book you’re reading on your finance blog doesn’t make much sense.

You want all of your content to represent you, your business and your vision. When brainstorming blog post topics, ask yourself which one your audience absolutely needs from you and how it relates to your business. Or instead of deciding to only post inspirational quotes on Twitter, ask yourself what your audience really needs from you and how you give it to them in 140 characters or less.

3. Plan for your future self

If you know something will not help you reach the dream life you imagine, don’t do it. You can create a business that’s built from making smart decisions that help you reach that level of success that you’ve always wanted.

You also don’t want to make rash decisions just because you think it’ll put you on the fast track to a 6 figure income. If it’s not sustainable or doesn’t feel like you, forget about it. You want to create things that last and can have a huge impact on your audience, for years to come.

You in 5 years will thank you!

4. Don’t spread yourself too thin

I know you may have 100 ideas running around your head right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to act on every one. The best part about creating a BP is that you’ll have a clear outline of all your ideas and you’ll be forced to answer the question of “why?”. Write down the why behind each idea and be honest with yourself about why you want to create it and why your audience needs it. You can also see if there’s an idea that’s totally out of left field and doesn’t match up with your business goals and mission.

How To Write A Business Plan That Gets Amazing Results

How to write a business plan that gets amazing resultsTossing together a few paragraphs and bullet points and calling it a business plan, isn’t going to cut it. There’s a few key things to keep in mind when creating your BP if you want to see results and reach your dream audience.

Be clear & specific

Writing down vague strategies like “stick to a blog post schedule” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to be specific and choose measurable goals. A better, clearer way to strategize your blog posts would be “Every Monday write a blog post tailored to helping working moms fit exercise into their daily routines”. This way you know what day you’re posting, who you’re posting for and what the goal of each post will be.

The more clear you are in your BP, the easier it is to plan your daily tasks and know if you’re hitting goals. Here’s some examples of vague strategies versus clear and measurable ones:

EX 1:

Vague: grow Twitter following by posting daily

Clear: Double followers by posting 7x daily on Twitter, participating in 2 weekly Twitter chats and including Calls to Action in each tweet

EX 2:

Vague: Increase email sign ups

Clear: Triple monthly email signups by creating a content upgrade for every blog post, promoting email list at least once a day on each social media account and hosting 1 webinar every 6 weeks

See the huge differences there? The clear strategies have measurable, specific goals and tasks to reach them.

Write as much detail as possible

You aren’t fooling anyone by putting a few bullet points in a Word doc and calling it a business plan. You have to go into detail, research and strategize the moves you’re making in your business to make sure they pay off in the end. You can say you’re going to focus your social media efforts on Pinterest but that isn’t a plan. A plan is when you decide when to post, where to post, who you’re posting for, what type of graphics you’ll create, how to make your Pinterest profile stand out, keep track of analytics, test what’s working and what needs tweaking. Phew that was a mouthful! But do you see where I’m going with this? The more detailed you are, the easier it will be to follow the plan you set for yourself and strategize each move you’re making.

Think long term

You don’t have to think 5 years down the road but have an idea of what you want to be doing in the long run and how the products, services and content you’re planning for help you reach that. You don’t want to put all your effort into building a business, only to realize that when you do reach those goals, you aren’t as excited and fulfilled as you thought you’d be.

This is where you need to ask yourself what success really means to you. Design success on your own terms and figure out what it is that would make you feel successful. Once you figure that out, you can build your business around that and create a life and business that flow effortlessly together. Use your version of success as the foundation of your business plan and won’t have to rewrite your entire business plan a year from now.

Tailor it to your audience

The worst thing you can do is create a business plan that’s sole goal is to be better than your competitors. Your business and your plan should revolve around one thing: your audience. When creating your BP, you’ll research your competitors and check out their marketing style, products and how they’re reaching their audience. That will help give you a sense of what your audience wants. But, it’s also going to help you figure out how to stand out and be original. In what ways can you help your audience or provide an amazing customer experience that sets you aside from your competitors?

Your BP helps you understand what your audience wants from you and what the best ways are to give it to them. You’ll understand your audience because you’re going to take time getting to know them and understanding what areas they need help with.

Do your research

You’re going to discover huge insights into your biz, your audience and your competitors if you do your research. If your audience is on Pinterest but you’re so focused on Instagram, you’ll be wondering why no one is finding you and why you aren’t reaching your dream audience.

When you research your competitors, you’ll get ideas on how you can position yourself differently in the market so that you stand out to your audience.

I get it, research doesn’t sound like the “fun” thing to do. But, trust me when I say this, it’s going to give you a better understanding and save you time in the long run. Some research now saves you a ton of wasted time on strategies that aren’t working.

6 Signs You Need A Business Plan

6 signs you need a business plan for your online businessRunning your business without a business plan may have worked for a little while.

You used to be able to try a couple things and people were responding pretty well.

But it’s gotten harder and harder to see the results you hoped for.

Running around aimlessly with no clear plan, strategies or goals is going to stop you from reaching the level of success you’ve always dreamed of.

Here are 6 signs you need to create a business plan ASAP:

1. If you’re growth is stagnant

If you’re trying everything you can think of to build your audience and grow your business, with little or no results, you need a business plan. A business plan will help you identify what strategies are the most effective, how to implement them, track their success and tweak them until you’re getting the results you really want..

2. If you aren’t sure what your next step is

If your planner is filled with more blank spaces than tasks, deadlines and launches, it’s time to create a business plan. Setting and forgetting goals isn’t going to help you create the wildly successful business you’ve always dreamed of.

You don’t need to have a 5 or 10 year plan but at least map out what you’re trying to accomplish and how you can make it happen.

3. If you’re struggling to connect with your audience

Ever write a newsletter and see that barely anyone opened it? Or posted content to Twitter, only to get nothing in response?

It’s not that people don’t want what you’re offering or think your advice is valuable. It’s just that you don’t have a clear plan for each communication platform and aren’t sure which strategies will get you the best results.

If you’re posting whenever it’s convenient for you or don’t have a specific goal for each platform, you aren’t going to see results. When you figure out where your audience wants to see your content and what type of content they want, you can put strategies in place that reach your dream clients or customers and bring in big results.

4. If you’re throwing any and all strategies at the wall

Trying the Pinterest strategy from the latest e-course you took.

Creating images that some blog post said would be effective.

Tweaking your newsletter copy because so-and-so said to.

You’re trying everything. And those things may be really helpful to your success. But only if you work on them long enough to see what’s working, what’s not and how you can improve it. Also, if you aren’t tracking the results you get from your strategies, you’ll never know what you’re wasting time on and what you should be focusing on.

It’s also okay to decide certain strategies aren’t for you. Just because one of your competitors finds Facebook Ads to be really successful for her, doesn’t mean they’re right for you and your business.

5. If you’re trying new things, but aren’t following through

Without sticking with something long enough, you’ll never know if it actually is working for you or not. If you schedule your tweets for the next 2 weeks but then forget to publish anything the next week, you aren’t going to see any real results.

A business plan is going to help you create consistency. You’ll know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll have a to-do list every week with how to reach your goals.

6. You aren’t reaching your goals and you don’t know why

You aren’t sure why you can’t hit that 1,000 subscriber mark and you have no clue why. A business plan will help you lay out your goals, create a plan for each one and strategize exactly how to make it happen. You may find that you’ve been focusing all your energy on your YouTube channel when your subscribers are actually finding you through your Podcast.

Grab your free checklist below and put a plan in place for every part of your business.

5 Reasons You Need A Business Plan For Your Online Business

5 reasons you need a business plan for your online businessMany entrepreneurs have 1 main thing missing from their business: a business plan!  Although it may not sound like the most fun thing to do, taking the time to create one can make or break it for your business.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a one woman shop or have a whole team working for you, a business plan is crucial to the growth and success of your small biz. If you’re serious about taking your biz to the next level and are sick of running around aimlessly trying to make your business succeed, then a business plan is for you.

Here are the top 5 reasons you need a business plan if you want to succeed:

1. You’ll have a clear Plan of Action

Instead of making decisions on the fly & not knowing what your next move is, you move confidently in the right direction & stop wandering aimlessly hoping for results. You’ll know exactly where you’re going and what you’re going to do to get there. Not only will you have a set of goals that you want to reach but you’ll know the why behind each goal. You’ll know that filling up your Buffer account with tweets is doing more than just growing your Twitter following, it’s increasing engagement with your audience and creating that connection customers crave from you.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A business plan is crucial to the growth and success of your #smallbiz” quote=”A business plan is crucial to the growth and success of your #smallbiz” theme=”style1″]

2. You’ll gain clarity in your business & products

Those million thoughts that run around your head all day? Putting them on paper and strategizing helps weed out the good from the bad & figure out which products and services align with your overall business goals. You’re able to make more strategic decisions for yourself and your audience by knowing what you’re creating for them and why the need it. You’ll know your business inside and out – I know, you run that thing so of course you know it inside and out! But when someone asks what you do, why you do it, who you help and why they need you, are you able to confidently answer them or are you stumbling over words while your face turns red while you rush to come up with the best answer.

If a potential customer is on the fence of buying your product, you’ll be able to tell them exactly why they need it and how they’ll benefit. Clarity also increases your confidence as a biz owner. When you’re totally clear on what you’re doing and why, you feel more confident when creating content and sharing products with your audience.

3. You can strategize effectively

Knowing exactly what you want out of your business helps you strategize more effectively than making decisions on the fly. You’ll gain insight into your audience and know what they want & prepare for ways to stand out from the crowd. You’re able to create products and services around your audience’s wants and needs rather than creating a product and hope that they like it. Your marketing will be more effective when you have clear goals in mind and a specific type of person that you’re trying to reach.

4. You’ll know what works best for you and your audience

You get to test out strategies & see which gets you the most results. If you’re spending hours a day in your Facebook group but your audience is all on Twitter, you can see the results you’re getting and put that extra time into Twitter.  You can easily figure out what your audience is responding too and what they aren’t that excited about. If they were raving about your post on Photoshop tips but no one signed up for your Pinterest course, you get a sense for who your audience is and what type of content they want more of. I’m all about time freedom and I bet you are too so that saying “work smarter, not harder” definitely applies here! Use your business plan to work smarter and strategize more effectively and your audience will take notice.

5. It keeps you on track & focused

When you create your business plan you create deadlines, launch dates and weekly plans. The most important part about this is if you stick to them, you’ll see results that get you one step further to your end goal. By putting actual dates to something you’re more likely to go through with it. If you write down “product launch October 15”  instead of “I’ll launch this in the fall”, you’re able to create a clear plan and stay focused on that end goal of getting your product launched on October 15. It also makes it feel a little more “real” once you have a set date written down. This way you can plan out your weeks and months accordingly and not get October and tell yourself you’ll just launch after the new year.

Here’s a checklist for you of what plans you need to have in a place to make sure your business is running as smoothly and seamlessly as possible!