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Winging It Isn’t a Business Growth Strategy

by | Last updated: Aug 17, 2022 | Podcast

What’s the antidote to inconsistent cash flow and clients in your business? Having a solid plan certainly helps, but too many entrepreneurs are just winging it in hopes of finding success. In this episode, I deliver a little tough love and talk about how to figure out the kind of plan you need in place for your business to grow.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

1:25 – What do most entrepreneurs do first when wanting to create the freedom and flexibility they desire? I explain why it’s a backward approach and a short-term solution.

5:08 – You find true freedom with a certain level of control in your business. I clarify what I mean by control here, because a lot of people might have mixed feelings on it.

7:39 – What do you need to have in place to get consistent cash flow and clients? I reveal the first of several different components necessary.

10:28 – The second component is one where a lot of people trip up. There’s a common trap entrepreneurs can fall into here as well, and I discuss how to avoid it.

14:23 – Having these two things in your business makes predictable profits so much easier to obtain. I explain how.

18:44 – How can you ensure that your team helps you create sustainable revenue, freedom, and flexibility? Without a plan here, things can become chaotic very quickly.

25:36 – I talk about another key thing to keep in mind as you’re working with your team to grow your business.

Mentioned in Winging It Isn’t a Business Growth Strategy

Today's episode is a little bit of tough love. Because I know that so many entrepreneurs are just winging it in their business. If that hit you hard, you are going to want to continue listening to this episode, because 80% of small-business owners find that inconsistent cashflow and clients is their biggest problem in their business. And guess what the antidote is? It is having a solid plan. To figure out what kind of plan you need to get in place in your business, keep on listening, we are going to talk all about it.

Are you ready to grow from solopreneur to CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook. I've spent the last decade helping women entrepreneurs start and scale service-based businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey, there CEO. Welcome to a little bit of a tough-love episode. We are going to get right into it. If you are someone who is not seeing consistent clients and cashflow in your business, one, I want you to know you aren't alone. This is by far the biggest challenge most business owners are struggling with. In fact, the research shows 80% of small businesses say that inconsistent cashflow is a problem. If they can only have more consistent cash flow, then everything else would work itself out and they would finally have that freedom and that flexibility that they are hoping for.

What most people do is they start focusing on how do we just go out there and generate more and more revenue first? If I go out and get more revenue coming in the door, then I will have more control over my business and then I will have the freedom that I'm looking for. But that's actually backwards. The data overwhelmingly shows that companies fail to grow, they struggle to grow, or they implode on themselves, they can have catastrophic growth where the business cannot keep up with the revenue that they're generating when you're out of control. When you're out of control, then that is not going to be a sustainable approach.

What do we do? What do we do if just going after revenue straightaway isn't the answer? We have to make a real plan, a real plan for predictable profits, not just for a one-time cash infusion. When we only focus on these one-time cash infusions, it solves the problem in the moment but it doesn't solve the problem long term. I hope that you're really, really hearing me. Maybe you've gone through this.

I know earlier on in my business before I truly had the type of systems we have behind the scenes, before we had the strategy that we have, there were definitely times where I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I just need an extra $5,000 or $10,000. How do I get that as quickly as possible into my business just so I can get through this month?” But because I was just focused on the short-term revenue bumps, I didn't actually see growth long term. I just got that little cash injection and didn't get where I was wanting to go.

What do we do instead? Well, we want to focus on getting more control over our business. When we have more control over our business, when we're more clear about what moves the needle in marketing, sales, customer delivery, and our day-to-day operations, when we have the systems and strategy and the team to support it, then the revenue comes more easily.

You can more easily grow and scale that revenue because now we're not basing it on these kind of Hail Mary ideas to get some quick cash flow in the business. Instead, we have something that is actually able to happen again and again, we're able to rinse and repeat those strategies. When you can rinse and repeat those strategies, when you have that level of control in your business, then you find true freedom.

The word control is something that I think a lot of people might have mixed feelings about. I really want to clarify what I mean by this. When you have control over your business, one, you can predict with pretty good certainty what will happen when you implement your plan.

When you sit down to plan, let's say your next enrollment cycle for your group coaching program, you know exactly how many people you need to get that offer in front of, how many people need to see the sales page, how many people need to book a call with you, in order to get the number of clients that you are looking for.

Understanding your business to that degree might seem like, “Oh, is that even possible?” It is possible. When you start building out a plan, when you start tracking your metrics, when you really start to understand the ins and outs of your business, things become more predictable.

When things become more predictable, oh my gosh, it becomes so much easier to know which dial to turn to grow the revenue, to get more clients coming in and then more cash flow coming in. It becomes easier to understand what your internal capacity is and how many people you can work with, how many people your team can support and help you actually plan hiring, plan bringing more people in so you can continue delivering to more clients.

When you have this degree of control and it's so fine tuned, suddenly you have true freedom because you can plan with such a high degree of certainty, because you have got this thing lasered in on what works for you and your business.

This might sound like maybe this is just like, “What? I just need more control over my business?” Yes, when you are just winging it, you have no control over your business. You are literally reacting to the things that are showing up every day. Other people are likely prioritizing what you are focused on in your business. But when you have a high degree of control, and you get this level of certainty about what you need to do in order to get the results you're looking for, it is a game changer.

What do you need to have in place in order to have this higher level of control, in order to have more certainty about how you're getting those clients in the door and about how you're growing your revenue in a sustainable way? Not one-off Hail Mary passes cash injections, but having true strategies you can rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat and consistently grow that business. What do you need to have in place?

Well, there's a few different components of what you need to have in place. One of the most important ones is you need to have a clear marketing plan. If you happened to attend the marketing strategy intensive that I did recently, you know that this is more than just saying I'm going to post five times a week on Instagram and I'm going to send out a weekly newsletter. That is just the check-offable component of your plan.

That is not actually the strategy of your plan. That is not understanding who are you talking to, what is the next step for them, and what is the messaging that needs to go into what you're sending out? Where are they in their customer journey? How are we preparing them to decide whether or not your offer is the right fit? We have to have that level of clarity in our marketing plan. We need to know who we're talking to, what is the product, program, or service we are offering them, what is the promise of that product, program, or service.

We need to understand what is the process we are taking people through. We need to understand how are we positioning this offer so that it is distinctive and stands out. How are we pricing this offer? Then we can get to how we actually promote this offer. How do we attract people into it? How do we engage people with it? How do we nurture?

I just went through those things very, very, very quickly. I've got a lot of resources on the podcast. If you missed the entire series we did about marketing strategies, specifically about Attract marketing, I've got so many resources out there, and the members of the CEO Collective who just went through the marketing strategy intensive with me will tell you that having this level of clarity is a game changer.

Because now they know why the message they might put out into their Attract marketing could be different than the messaging they're putting out in their Nurture marketing, could be different from the message they're putting out in their invitation. You have to have that clarity of what is happening in your marketing strategy.

The next thing we need is a clear revenue plan. This is something that I've talked about before if you've heard the episode that I did previously about how to create a 12-month predictable profit plan. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes people make is they don't actually plan out when they are actively going to promote specific offers or plan out promotions with different reasons for people to buy at different times of year.

Some people might call this a launch calendar. This could be where you literally open up your calendar for 12 months and say, “Okay, in August, in November, in March, in June, I'm going to open the doors to this program. I'm going to open the doors with a webinar for this one and this one, and a challenge for this one and this one.” Then you might have smaller offers that plug into the other months. That's one option.

You could have a calendar where you're saying how many times a year you're going to promote your signature offer. Maybe you run the same exact enrollment strategy each and every time or maybe you change it up each and every time. But the goal is you actually plan out on your calendar when are you promoting which offer in your business and how are you promoting that offer in your business?

I think one of the most important things as we start looking at creating revenue plans and creating sales plans here for how we're bringing people into our products, programs, and services is remembering you can sell the same thing every single month of the year and if your clients or your potential clients and your audience are just hearing the same words over and over again, at some point, they become desensitized to it.

It fades into the background, it doesn't seem as exciting. It is important to create these little campaigns that help people see why now is the time for them to work with you, that help make things more relevant, that make them more clear why now is the time to join or to buy your product, program, or service.

That's another key component of what we need to put in place for more predictable profits. We need to have your written marketing plan that helps you not just check off the list of what tools or things you're using, but also what the messaging is, how it all works together, how it guides people through this journey.

We need a clear revenue plan and clear sales plan for what we are promoting when, how we're promoting it, and if we need to have maybe slightly different topics around that or maybe we have slightly different incentives each time, that can be another opportunity for you.

For example, when I'm promoting the CEO Collective, we ran the Fired Up & Focused Challenge recently, we're going to run the Best Year Ever Challenge coming up at the end of the year. We are constantly running different things that are slightly different. They're slightly different on ramps into working with us inside of the CEO Collective, but they give us different ways to present what we offer to our community of potential clients. Having that clarity on that revenue plan suddenly makes it easier to show up and make the sales be relevant to your potential clients and turn them into paying clients.

Another thing that is part of that is your repeat sales plan. It is seven times easier to keep a client than to get a new client. How are you retaining clients? How are you getting clients to come back to you? Are you making client-only offers? Are they able to renew into your product, program, or service? Is there a next level offer they might have?

You might be surprised to know how many people you're following who have offers going on in their business that you've never seen because they're only available to former clients. This is how you build a client base. When you have a solid client base of people who come back to you again and again and again, you don't have to spend as much time up front on Attract marketing. You don't have to have a massive audience. You just need the audience of dedicated, committed repeat clients.

Having a repeat sales plan for how you're going to retain them, how they can come back to you, what the next steps could be, how often you're following up with them to bring them back into the fold and have another offer for them, that is a game changer for making a more predictably profitable business.

Another thing that goes on top of your plan, on top of your marketing plan, your revenue plan, repeat sales plan is tracking your metrics. Like I said, when you have a higher degree of control over your business, you have more certainty about what will happen if you turn up the dial on something. You can actually forecast out what the results will be.

Let's say you know that you need four people to book a call with you in order to have two new clients. So 50% of the people who have a call with you become new clients. If your goal is to grow clients and you're still using sale calls, and you know with a pretty good degree of certainty that 50% of people who get on the phone with you do convert into clients, then you can focus on the front end of that saying, “Okay, I want a third client on top of that so I'm going to book six calls this month in order to grow.

That's a really simple conversion there to figure out. As you start looking at other types of sales strategies, if you know your numbers, if you understand your metrics and you understand how you can impact those, you can quickly adjust things and see a result with a high degree of certainty.

We just went through this in our business. I was just looking at our email marketing metrics. I could see that we had our solid open rate. It was so good for our warmest segment of our audience, sometimes as high as 50%. But usually somewhere between 35% and 40% for our warmest audience segment. Yes, we do send out segmented emails.

But we were still seeing a lower click-through rate than I would like. So I sat down with the team and I said, “How can we increase the click-through rate because it is so low right now?” It was so simple. Once we looked at it, it was like, “Oh, instead of making it a link where maybe people can't tell it's a link, let's make it a button where it's bigger and clearer, especially for people on mobile.” Instantly, we have seen that click-through rate triple in just a few hours.

Because we're tracking all the rest of our metrics, we know if we can increase the click-through rate, we can increase the number of people who are taking action and checking out what we have will impact our sales down the road. Having this much control over your marketing system, over your sales system is what helps you to, again, make things more predictable, and more profitable.

We talk a lot in this podcast especially about marketing plans, revenue plans, making more money, bringing in those clients and cashflow because, again, that is the biggest challenge most business owners have. According to E-Myth, 80% of small businesses continue to say that inconsistent cashflow is a problem.

That is why I focus so much on the marketing, the revenue, the sales plan, because I know that businesses with that planning in place that are able to get to that point of rinse and repeat and predictability in their business, they grow 60% faster than those who do not have that.

But there's another component that I think we need to talk about that helps you to have a higher degree of control over your business. When you have a higher degree of control over your business, again, you can more sustainably scale your revenue and get more freedom and flexibility for yourself.

What is that other component? It's your operations and your team. This is so important because I feel like it's really easy to stay focused just on marketing, just on sales and not be thinking about how your team is running. But there does come a point for every business owner, especially as you are in growth mode, once you cross a threshold of a few hundred thousand dollars in revenue, you're trending towards half a million and above, your team becomes critical to your success.

We have seen so many business owners who when they don't have a clear operation strategy, when they don't have clarity on how their team works together, they lose one person on their team and it's like all hell breaks loose. They don't know how to step in and take over, no one knows what to do, no one knows what that person was specifically doing. It can become very chaotic very, very quickly.

This is why we need to have clarity on our team and how our team works together. This might feel really uncomfortable for a lot of people because, to be honest, if you've ever come from corporate and you are used to having meetings with managers, all these meetings, all this checking in, and all those things that a lot of people wanted to escape from when they left corporate or more traditional jobs and started their own business, a lot of them are like, “I don't want to micromanage anybody. I don't want to manage anybody at all. I don't want to have to have meetings,” but there is some level of that that is needed. There is some structure we can create in your business in a way that works for you.

We need to define what that team and operations plan is going to look like. For my business, I am very committed to having a team of people who are very driven on their own, and they're very self-directed, meaning once they know exactly what their role is, they have the SOPs for the specific things that they are responsible for, and most importantly, they know what matters to the business and they know what the goals of the business are, they know what they need to be doing each and every day when they show up to work with us.

This to me is a game changer. I find that a lot of people don't really know how to get their team to be more self-directed. I want to be honest, part of it feels like I just have unicorn people. Maybe that's part of it. Maybe I'm just magical and just somehow found a team of 15 people that all just know how to show up and do what they need to do.

But I also believe it's the strategy. Inside of my business, we have a clear team strategy that everyone is able to go through when we're onboarding, so they go through some of these key things when they're onboarding, and then there are other things that are just part of our culture.

What kind of things do they get when we're onboarding that helps everybody to know what's going on here? One, we have a full onboarding process for all of our team members that walks them through what is our vision, what is our mission, what are our values? Those are things that I do not take lightly.

I think it's really easy for people to say, “I just need a mission statement,” and they just dash something off, but it doesn't actually mean anything to anybody. We take a lot of time with this. In fact, I did an entire deep dive with Erica Courdae on our written values, on making our values very explicit, and making sure that our values are dispersed through every part of how we run our team, how we hire, how we take care of our clients, how we do our marketing. Every part of our business is touched by our values.

Because our values are so explicit, and our vision and mission is so clear to my team, they are able to make decisions without having to come to me because they know the values that matter. They know that because our priority, number one, the number one value we have that we share first is life before business, they know hey, if something comes up in their life, they don't need to ask permission, they just need to give us a heads up so that we can cover whoever needs to be covered.

They know that if they want to go on a vacation, we have somebody go on a honeymoon, they don't have to ask permission, they just have to give us a heads up so that we can cover the days they're out and make sure everything continues to run smoothly. That is amazing, there's never any conflict or worry about that. They can make decisions based on our values.

They also learn a deep dive into who our clients are. I have a whole thing about who our clients are, who we are attracting, who we have inside of the Collective. I actually give them case studies of probably half a dozen different clients who've been through the CEO Collective to talk about who we attract and who we work with so they can get familiar with who we're attracting and who we work with.

They go through the entire onboarding process that our clients go through. They're really clear about what happens there. These types of things help the team to understand what we're here to do, who we're here to help. It helps them to understand how I would make decisions as they're interacting with our clients, either as a coach, in customer service, or what have you.

I also make sure that every quarter, just like I talk about doing a 90-day plan and having an annual plan, I share those with my team. This is another key thing as you're growing your business, as you're stepping into the role of CEO. I fell into this trap multiple times where I would start getting these amazing ideas of where I wanted to go but then I wasn't communicating them clearly enough to the team so that they could help me get there.

Then I was starting to ask things, make requests, or do things and they were like, “What is happening? We're a little confused about what the priorities are right now.” I had to make sure that when we create our annual plan, the whole team is updated, brought to speed on what the plan is, on what the priorities are, and on what the projects are.

We make sure every single quarter if there's a new 90-day plan, I give everybody the overview. “Here's what's happening. Here's what we're working on. Here are the priorities.” This helps everybody to prioritize because maybe we say this quarter, “Hey, we're going to prioritize this thing over here,” then they can say, “Okay, does that mean this task I'm responsible for needs to be prioritized over another one because these are the goals we're going forward together?”

This makes them more self directed, because they can tell what's coming. Every month I do a quick recap video for my team saying, “Here's what happened.” When we do an enrollment for the CEO Collective, I let them know what's coming and walk them through the strategy for the enrollment. Then we do a recap and talk about what worked, what didn't work, and what we can do better next time.

Because we have this level of transparency, but also strategy, everyone in the team can mostly do their job without my interference, which is ideal. This is the opposite of micromanaging. This is having clarity on what their role is so that they can fully take ownership of it. This also helps us to make sure that everybody is moving in the right direction and they're communicating back to us.

If there's something they're not clear about, we can jump in and have a conversation about it. We get to those problems a lot faster. But really, they're not problems. We get to those questions from people on the team a lot faster when they're confused or something's not clear. We don't let it just snowball into a big problem. This is how you create more control in your business.

It sounds counterintuitive for me to say more control after I just talked about how these systems allow us to not have to micromanage people, but it truly frees up so much when everybody knows what they're responsible for, when everybody knows what the priorities are. There's no confusion about where we all are going, where we're headed, what we're trying to accomplish.

I hope this episode was helpful for you. I know I walked on a high-level through these different things you need to have in place in your business in order to go from inconsistent clients and cash flow to consistent clients and cash flow, to having that foundation so that you actually can grow your revenue and sustainably scale your business and ultimately to have the freedom and flexibility that I know everyone wants in their business.

It starts with getting more control over your business and not winging it. If you are winging it, you are always going to be struggling with the inconsistent clients and cashflow. But if you have clarity on your marketing plan, your sales plan, your repeat sales plan, your operations, your team, if you have clarity on all of those things, and you're able to get to the point where you have so much control over your business, you know exactly which dial you need to turn in order to amplify the results somewhere, it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

This is how you create a business that can truly run itself like clockwork without you having to effort so hard in order to see the results you're looking for. If you enjoyed this episode, and you know that it's time for you to get more control over your business and to stop winging it, I want you to come check out the CEO Collective. The doors are open at the time of me recording this and they will be open for our September cohort until August 25th.

This is a 12-month implementation mastermind experience for women entrepreneurs who are ready for more consistent clients and cash flow so that they can start seeing those next-level results, meaning a solid foundation to sustainably scale your business without hustling, without burning out. All the details are at theceocollective.com.

If you happen to miss this enrollment cycle but you’re still interested in learning more about how you can work with us, join the waitlist. Sometimes, the episodes go out and people take a while to listen to them, it’s totally okay, we open the doors for enrollment inside of this program four times a year so there will be another opportunity to join us before the end of 2022.

Thank you so much for listening today. I cannot wait to hear your insights and ahas on this one. Make sure you head over to Instagram and let me know what you think about this episode. Specifically, let me know which one of these things are a gap for you in getting control of your business. Is it your marketing plan, your revenue plan, your sales plan, your operations and team? What are you realizing you need a little bit more control over? I would love to hear from you.

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