Monthly Business Review: August 2015

I’m a big advocate of weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual business reviews. It’s a habit I put in place as a CEO and continue today. And it’s a habit I try to instill in the entrepreneurs I work with. Monthly Business Review

A monthly business review is an opportunity to take a 'helicopter view' of your business, to evaluate the effectiveness of your projects and activities and to refine your business plan. A monthly business review is my secret weapon for keeping my business plan on track.

The reason I love monthly business reviews so much is that they help me to move one step closer towards achieving my goals. I set aside time to take stock of what I’ve achieved, and to celebrate the small wins. I think about the lessons I’ve learned and work out which areas of my business (and lifestyle) I’d like to improve, even if only by a small margin. I plan out the rest of the quarter, and look ahead to the following quarter.

Another habit I learnt as a CEO was to keep whatever challenges I was dealing with to myself, and present a positive persona to the world. Being a CEO means you have to present yourself as a leader to your team at all times. Because I’ve had so much experience dealing with challenging situations, I’m largely unfazed by the ups and downs of business. In my role as a business strategist and entrepreneur mentor, this means that the people I coach experience me as unflappable and consistent. Clients this reassuring as they know they can trust me to be steady when they’re negotiating turbulent waters and this helps them to be clear headed.

However there's a flip side to being so stoical; we get to know people through the sharing of stories. So I thought it would be fun to take you behind the scenes of my business each month to share what I’m working on, as well as the challenges, the lessons I’ve learnt and any great resources I’ve come across along the way which may be of benefit to you.

In these monthly business reviews, I’m going to share:

  • How I get on hitting my monthly and longer term goals;
  • The challenges I’ve experienced and the lessons I’ve learnt;
  • Great resources I’ve come across that you may enjoy too;
  • Unexpected wins and/ or other insights that may be of value to you;
  • My plans for the coming month.

My monthly goals are set within the context of a bigger medium term goal. This is mine. Much as I love many aspects of living in London, it doesn’t meet my ‘blue skies and sunshine’ criteria. As I’m writing this article, the skies are overcast and the rain is pouring down – once again. My dream is to work from a beach house overlooking the ocean and within close proximity to a vibrant town or city with good restaurants, a great yoga studio and an active cultural scene. And to have continuous blue skies and sunshine. I'm so over the rain! To have the confidence to live abroad for much, if not all of the year, it’s important to me that I create a business with monthly recurring revenue. This means taking my work online, with my chosen business model a membership site.

My six key goals for August were to:

  1. Pilot a 14 Day Challenge which ran from Monday, 3rd August to test whether this was an effective way of building community;
  2. Put together an integrated content marketing strategy to start from September;
  3. Write an E-Book to use as a lead magnet;
  4. On-board my new VA;
  5. Test out whether I prefer using AWeber in preference to MailChimp which I find difficult to very use;
  6. Complete my re-branding.

1. Pilot A 14 Day Challenge

During July, I ran a small Facebook adverts campaign for a 14 day challenge to help entrepreneurs put in place the foundations to double their profits. I knew August wasn’t the best time to run a challenge but the alternative was to leave it to September. I brought 90 new people on to my list, and provided daily support through the challenge to those that chose to join my private Plan For Profit Facebook group. I'm a member of Kim Garst's Social Selling Inner Circle, and the results I got in my Facebook advert campaign are largely attributable to the support I got from her team.

Pareto’s Rule is so true! Around 20% of those who signed up didn’t get going with the challenge if their unopened emails are anything to go by! Around 20% participated in the challenge actively, with 20% of the 20% being total superstars in terms of their contribution.

Running a Challenge is a huge amount of work, and it’s a big commitment for participants. I’m going to make future Challenges 7 days long as I think that’s far more manageable. I’m also going to put in place an email sequence, aimed at those people who haven’t opened their emails, to encourage them to ‘get going.’

2. Put Together An Integrated Content Marketing Strategy

I stopped writing articles regularly for my blog earlier in the year, largely because I wasn’t sure what differentiated my content from that of anybody else. Also my blog wasn’t getting read, partly I've realised because I hadn’t optimised it properly. In July, I discovered Ian Cleary’s work and he has helped me to better understand what makes for a successful blog. My content marketing strategy for September and October is largely complete; I’m going to put in place the finishing touches this afternoon.

3. Write An E-Book

I haven’t yet written the e-Book, although I do have an outline for its content. I’ve prepared a checklist called ‘The 12 Characteristics of High Growth Businesses’ which will shortly be available as a lead magnet. The e-Book will explain the 12 traits of high growth businesses in detail and this will lead on to a webinar.

4. On-Board My New VA

Having Sara on board as my Virtual Assistant has been a godsend. Because she comes from a marketing background, Sara instinctively understands what I want her to do. For example, I had her draft weekly ‘round up emails’ to participants in the 14 Day Challenge which otherwise I’d have had to write myself. When working out the tasks I wanted to delegate to a VA, I referred to Chris Ducker’s blog post, ‘101 Tasks To Outsource To Virtual Staff’ as well as his YouTube videos.

5. Test Out Whether To Change To AWeber

I am changing to AWeber! Let’s just say I struggle with MailChimp’s ‘monkey talk.’

When it comes to choosing software, I often find it hard to differentiate between the different options and understand which best meets my current – and future – needs. I don't know about you but I switch off when it comes to reading tech descriptions. ;) It’ll be a while before I need the full functionality of Infusionsoft; however I do need a system that allows me to segment my subscribers and set up email sequences based on how subscribers react to my mailings. AWeber it is!

6. Complete My Re-branding

This has been a marathon, but it's nearly complete! I’m just waiting for my designer to put together the final colour swatch and set of fonts. Then we’ll be able to put together new promotional materials, stationary including slides and update my website.

I think branding's an evolutionary process; it adapts as you and your business grow. I used Pinterest to create a ‘Branding Inspiration’ board and posted all my ideas there. I played around with design ideas for my social media posts using Canva For Work to create a set of templates to make graphics for the various social media channels I use. (Check out this blog post, ‘Everything You Need To Know About Canva At Work,’ by Peg Fitzpatrick where she explains Canva For Work's key features).

This Month's Challenges 

My biggest challenge this month has been dealing with health issues. In retrospect I worked too long hours in June and July, and should have taken a holiday in August. At the start of the month, I came down with a summer cold which knocked me out for the best part of a week. Last week, I had a adverse reaction to the wheat in my diet which I’m still recovering from.

Until the beginning of the year, I had a reasonably healthy lifestyle. I started the day with a regular morning routine comprising of yoga, meditation and visualisation, I ate a balanced ‘rainbow diet’ and I went to the gym regularly. Then for no good reason, I stopped …

Good health and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Losing 2 weeks of the month due to illness has made me think seriously about my habits and routines. So this morning I got back on the health wagon by reinstating my morning routine. As soon as I got up, I read my affirmations, did a short meditation and yoga practice and used visualisation to get myself set up for the day. It felt so much better to start the day in this way,

Yesterday evening I read ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod. The underlying assumption of the book is that if we want to live a ‘Level 10’ life, it begins with how we start our day i.e. a focused, productive, successful start to the morning leads to a focused, productive, successful day – and this inevitably leads to a successful life. Paradoxically an unfocused, unproductive and mediocre start to the morning will lead to an unfocused, unproductive and mediocre day – and ultimately a lower quality of life. I don’t know about you but if my day starts off poorly, then I feel ‘off kilter’ for the rest of the day.

There wasn’t anything in the book I wasn’t already familiar with, but I’d stopped doing what had worked so well for me before. What’s great about writing these ‘monthly review’ posts is that, because they're public, I make myself more accountable. So I increase the likelihood that I’ll stick with this new morning routine.

An Unexpected Win

At the beginning of the month, I received an email from publicity strategist, Selena Soo, inviting me to a webinar with her mentor, Ryan Levesque. As mastering online marketing is a key priority for me, I was keen to listen in. Ryan is super-smart and has a great attitude to business. When I learnt that there was an opportunity to join his mastermind group, I decided to join. (I’d heard of Ryan but wasn’t familiar with his work. As is always the case when I’m considering joining any sort of coaching programme or mastermind group, I did my due diligence to check him out first). Less than a month in, I’ve received so much value from Ryan, his team and the group, so I’m delighted I decided to join.

 My September Goals

I’ve four key priorities for September:

  1. Growing my community
  2. Implement my content marketing strategy
  3. Launching my membership site
  4. Start using Periscope

During September I’m going to promote my two new lead magnets via a Facebook adverts campaign, and then engage my new followers with the content I’ve been creating. This aligns to my new content marketing strategy where I’ll be writing two new blog posts every week and promoting these through the various social media channels. I’m also going to test out promoting a selection of my blog posts on Facebook to see what impact this has on both my following and engagement.

I’ve put together some great content for my new membership site which I’ll record as soon as my re-branded slides are ready. Supporting my community through a membership programme is at the heart of my business strategy. From a values perspective, this is because I want to build a long term relationship with the people I work with. I love seeing how the entrepreneurs in my groups have been growing in confidence as they implement what I’ve been teaching. Whilst I intend to do occasional product launches, from a business perspective, I much prefer predictable monthly income that compounds over time. I explain the reasons why in my new e-Book ‘How To Create A High Growth Business.’

And finally I want to start using Periscope. I love how it’s turned social selling on its head and allows you to create an immediate rapport and relationship with your followers. And it looks like it’s so much fun! So I’m going to be scoping over a cup of tea from some of my favourite places, and sharing business advice at the same time.

If you feel like you lost momentum during August - perhaps because you took time off for a holiday and are finding it difficult to get back in the swing of things - hop over to my post, ‘The Power of Momentum.’ But before you do, I’d love for you to post your comments in the box below, and if you enjoyed this post, that you share it to your favourite social media channel.

If you haven't yet joined our private Plan For Profit community, you can do so here for free.

Join the Conversation

Question: How was your August? Did you make the progress you intended on your goals? I love hearing from you. Please let me know in the comments box below.

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About Denyse

I have 25 years’ experience in business, including 8 years as a CEO. I trained at Cranfield School of Management, the UK’s leading business school. With experience in business planning, financial management, risk management, building strategic partnerships, product development, marketing (including PR) plus leading and developing staff teams of up to 150 people, there’s very little I haven’t had to deal with or experienced.

I now run a boutique business consulting and coaching agency, Best Year Ever. If you’re interested in working with me, you can find out more about my business consultancy and coaching practice HERE.

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