Changing your business plan doesn’t have to be a struggle. Just ask Carolann Jacobs, president of Vivid Epiphany, a coaching consultancy for SMBs in Plano, Texas.
Up until 2008, most of her new clients came from lunch-and-learn seminars and speaking engagements. But things changed when the economy took a dive.
“I couldn’t even get a bite from my free sessions,” Jacobs says. “Companies simply didn’t want to hear about things to buy when they didn’t have any money to spend.”
At the time, her business specialized in on one-on-one coaching, but when she started seeing red, she decided it was time for a change.
“I decided to change my whole marketing and sales model from individual coaching to group coaching,” she says, adding that she found clients through conducting teleseminars and promoting the business over social media.
These days, Jacobs is doing well with her group coaching and is excited about the current uptick in the economy.
“As things come back, I will be able to take my group coaching program into the corporate setting,” she says. “This shift gave my company a whole other product.”
Jacobs isn’t alone. According to Jennifer Crews, business advisor for Pearl Advisory Partners in Asbury Park, New Jersey, many SBOs are considering a change in business plans.
“This is happening a lot now; 2010 was a tough year,” she says. “In the last week alone I’ve had two business owners tell me they are rethinking the direction of their businesses.”
Here are a few things to keep in mind when changing your business plan:
Know your value
At the most basic level, what does your company bring to the market and how do you differentiate yourselves? Once you answer that question, focus on what your best customers have in common, suggests Crews.
“Find out how your product meets a certain customer’s needs really well and then think about how you can package your product differently to still meet their needs," Crews says.
Once you know you want to change your business plan, start right away and be concise in your vision, advises Jacobs.
“Write up an action plan,” she says. “This will help you think about the change every day.”
Keeping the plan top-of-mind will help SBOs track effectiveness.
“The days of having an annual review of a business plan are over,” Jacobs says. “It is important to go back more often. Refer back to the changed business plan often and in meetings to track growth and even employee accountability.”
Sudden changes in a business can scare staff, so it is always important to keep everyone in the loop, Crews says.
“Changing your business plan shouldn’t be scary, it should be exciting,” she says. “Throughout the process, make sure each employee understands how their role is important in the shift. Pull your employees into the conversation and ask for their input on the new business direction.”
Katie Morell is Chicago-based writer and frequent OPEN Forum contributor. She regularly contributes business, feature and travel articles to national and regional publications.