November is my business planning month. I like to get ahead of the curve and start my own process for reviewing my business accomplishments, assessing what did and didn’t go well and surveying the landscape well before the end of the year. That way, I go into the New Year, with a clear plan, ready to hit the ground running. Monthly Business Review

This month, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the world we’re living in and how as small business owners we’re affected by the prevailing winds. Small business is the backbone of the economy. Here in the UK, we’re responsible for 60% of private sector jobs. And between 2008 and 2013, an awe inspiring 85% of new jobs in the UK were created by companies with fewer than 50 employees. I very much doubt that these stats are significantly different in the US, Canada, Australia and the other countries where I have readers.

Small business is awesome! We’ve delivered these results against a tough economic background, uncertain political conditions and more often than not, on shoestring budgets. And in the majority of cases, little or no financial plan. Imagine what we would achieve if we all got really good at business planning, especially understanding those all important numbers?

I was therefore delighted to have the opportunity to speak on Emma D’Arcy’s Marketing Success Summit, alongside a line-up of speakers that ranged from award winning Professor of Marketing, John Fahy, through to Instagram expert, Sue B Zimmerman. I talked about marketing budgets, and I could hear a few people fall off their chairs when I said that all small businesses should be aiming to spend 7-8% of their revenue on brand awareness and marketing. Whilst those in start-up mode and/ or are going for aggressive growth should be looking at spending upwards of 20% of their revenue on brand awareness and marketing.

That’s why, as I’ve been working with my 1:1 consultancy and coaching clients, we’ve been looking closely at their financial results and analysing what they’re spending their revenue on. My clients are no different to most small business owners in that they come to me with very little financial information. And if they are keeping their books up to date, they don’t know how to use the gold that’s contained within their books to inform their business decisions.

[callout]CLICK HERE to start planning your 2017 budget and map out your financial plan for the year ahead.[/callout]

But once my clients have brought on board a competent bookkeeper, we’ve got at least 3 months of financial information, and they’re doing their cash flow forecasting, the magic can happen. We can start work on a marketing strategy that will help to establish the business as a sustainable brand. We can beaver away at creating a decent marketing budget so that my clients have confidence that they have a steady stream of customers. And as their marketing budget grows, they’re able to ‘turn the tap on’ and increase the flow of customers to their business.

As a result:

  • Two clients are about to start the commissioning process for an agency to manage their SEO and PPC campaigns. This month I’ve made a policy decision not to make referrals to my clients. My advice is to shortlist and interview 3-4 potential providers, some of whom may come from within my business network. Then market test on competency, price and cultural fit.
  • A third client has just launched his new website, and we’ve put in place an online marketing plan that includes SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media and email marketing.
  • A fourth client achieved her best ever sales results following a Black Friday promotion.
  • A fifth client is in the middle of a big product launch, and the response she’s been getting has been phenomenal.
  • And Paul Sullivan has generated a lot of PR following his appearance on The Apprentice. After a barney with Lord Sugar -  yes really – Paul was given the boot. He made a brilliant appearance on The Apprentice – You’re Fired.

[callout]CLICK HERE to start planning your 2017 budget and map out your financial plan for the year ahead.[/callout]

On a personal level, I made a big decision in November. Having spent a lot of the summer on the beach, I decided that I wanted to spend more time by the seaside. I’ve actually been thinking about this all year, and wondering whether to buy a property abroad so that I can spend more time in the sun. At this point in my business, I don’t want the distraction of travel back and forward to the UK. So I decided to look for a property in one of my favourite coastal towns within easy commuting distance to London, and Gatwick airport.

I had a lot of fun house hunting, and very quickly found the most beautiful apartment with views over the estuary, and a one minute walk to the beach. It’s immaculately presented, and the décor is perfect, meaning I can move straight in. To help me keep it perfect, I’ll be getting a cleaner. And I’m thinking about getting a dog. Come the New Year, you’ll find me in one of my favourite cafes, Ginger & Dobbs, working from the Institute Of Directors in Piccadilly or hanging out on the beach, watching the sunset, and taking photos for my Instagram account!

[callout]If you’d like help with your business planning, I’ve created a financial planner which is available exclusively to my subscribers. It comes with a set of step by step instructions explaining how to use it. CLICK HERE to start planning your 2017 budget and map out your financial plan for the year ahead. If you’d like 1:1 help with your business planning, you can book a call, using this link, to discuss how I can assist you here.[/callout]

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Question: How was your November? What was your biggest achievement? I love reading your feedback, so please let me know in the comments box below.

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I’m Denyse Whillier, a London based business coach and consultant. I guide entrepreneurs from across the globe to achieve profitable, scaleable growth and create businesses that are Built To Succeed™. Built To Succeed™ is my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, 25 years’ experience at senior leadership and managerial level and training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK's leading business school. It's this background that sets me apart and helps my clients to get BIG results.
I’d love to start a conversation. Simply use this link to arrange an informal Skype coffee chat. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching (or business consultancy) would be a good fit for your business, the results you can expect and how to get started.
To get a copy of my e-book, 'How To Take Control Of Your Business ... And Get Off The Financial Roller Coaster,' click HERE.