Being a small business, especially being a one woman show, means that I am accountable to me. I wake up in the morning and am my own boss. Anyone else in this situation understands that this is fabulously freeing and empowering, and at the same time, can also be bewildering and overwhelming.
After returning from my travels in Malawi I realized that the dream for Dsenyo is much larger than what I can accomplish on my own. So, I have been reaching out for advice and attending workshops on time management and small business growth strategies.
Out of this research, I have found two invaluable resources to focus the day-to-day development of my business:
- A One Year Business Plan (aka SLAP)
- Building and Utilizing an Advisory Board
1. Discovering my need for a ONE year business plan
Anyone starting a business or even thinking about starting a business inevitably comes face to face with the need to write a business plan. Typically, the term "business plan" refers to a five year plan. The standard five year plan is a great exercise to evaluate the feasibility of your idea, is a requirement for meeting with investors and is a valuable way to set long term goals and a rough path for how to get there.
But realistically, what people like myself really need is a short-term plan with day-to-day tasks that will get us to our growth goals for the year. Enter, Carissa Reininger, Founder & President of Silver Lining Ltd. I attended her workshop in Denver last spring which I found through Ladies Who Launch.
It was Carissa's informative, practical and hands-on workshop that opened my eyes to the need for a ONE year business plan. Her company calls this a Silver Lining Action Plan (SLAP). The emphasis is on the word ACTION, meaning it's not a static plan that you write, file away and check-off your To Do List. It's a dynamic plan with realistic action items that get you to your ultimate goals by the end of 12 months.
Carissa just finished doing a North American tour of her workshop. Silver Lining does offer a online self-help version of the SLAP and they have a full-service consultancy program.
Thanks to Carissa's inspiration, Dsenyo now has a detailed one year plan. My goals are clear, action steps are broken down into various categories which are assigned to quarters and months of the year. I started on the plan two weeks ago and already feel my productivity and sense of purpose greatly increased. I know where I want to go and I know more, rather than less, how I'm going to get there!
2. Building and Utilizing an Advisory Board
The other most helpful thing has been to build and use an Advisory Board. I have several talented and experienced people who have agreed to support the development of the Dsenyo dream. My advisors range from experienced business people in the areas of finance and markting, industry experts, and creative people from the consumer perspective.
I have been blessed with help from these folks and found them through family and friends...actually, most of them are family. I meet with all or some of them on a bi-monthly basis at this point. For me, this is my accountability system.
My advisory board consists of the following key people:
• Financial Advisor (my dad)
• Marketing/Strategy Advisor (a good family friend)
• Moral Booster, #1 Fan & Website Development Advisor(my husband)
• Creative Writing & Consumer Perspective Advisor (my step-mom)
• PR and General Support Advisor (my mom)
• Networking Advisor(my sister)
• Online Marketing Advisor (brother-in-law)
• Industry Expert Advisor (contact from the Global Social Venture Competition)
• Sales Advisor (friend)
With these two resources in action, when I wake up in the morning, I no longer wonder what to do with my day or who will know what I've done with my day. I have my SLAP to guide my taks towards reaching my goals and I have my advisory board to report back to on my progress and to help me when I face roadblocks along the way.
Wow, this feels so much better!