The Simple, SUSTAINABLE Success System Every Entrepreneur Should Know

written by Racheal Cook MBA

Burnout is a massive problem for women entrepreneurs. Let’s face it, we’re not only starting and growing businesses, but we’re also raising families, and caring for aging parents. We’re doing so many different things on top of growing this business! But one of the key reasons burnout is such a massive problem for women entrepreneurs isn’t just that there’s so much to do, but it’s that we don’t always have a clear plan for how we are going to show up and run our business on top of other responsibilities. This is not about the latest trendy tips, tricks or tactics – it’s truly about the foundational strategy that we all need if our goal is to take our business to that next level, where we have predictably profitable $5K, $10K, $15K+ monthly revenue coming into our business – the level of success where we can hire support, systematize our business, and actually enjoy our life without the nonstop hustle and burnout. It’s not magic – it’s strategy! That was the dream for my client Nichole Lynn. She is someone who has just blown me away with how she’s implemented this next unsexy success secret. Nichole came into my world when she joined my online coaching program – and at first I was a little nervous because the majority of my clients are service based business owner and Nichole is the owner of The Solid Bow. She sells hair bows! When Nichole introduced herself to our group, she shared that she’s been in business for years making pretty good revenue, and she’s also a homeschooling mom to seven kids, hasn’t had a weekend off in forever, and had basically no support system in place in the business or at home. She was wearing all of the hats in her business. She was doing everything herself –  from getting the bows ordered and shipped, serving all of her clients, being the entire marketing and sales department, being the customer service department, she was doing all of the things! AND SHE WAS EXHAUSTED. She was hitting burnout hard. And it became this self-perpetuating issue because her business was very much running day to day, leaving her in constant burnout. Nichole didn’t have any white space between the things happening in her business – they were all happening, all at the same time, leaving her to feel like she could never catch up or get ahead. She wasn’t sure how to get out of this constant grind and without a clear plan, she was ‘winging it’ every day in her business. Her approach to generating revenue was to run a sale for her bows.
NOTE FROM RACH – Many service based businesses operate this way – revenue is primarily driven by discounting, running flash sales, or big launches that create a ton of pressure for the entrepreneur.   Suddenly the business is surviving launch-to-launch…and one failed launch could mean the death of the business.   Running a business like this can cause tons of unintended challenges:: Clients expect discounts and only buy when things are on sale. This squeezes profit margins, causes cash flow problems, and overall makes it more difficult for the business to thrive because it’s operating in survival mode.
When Nichole started working with us, she started by attending The CEO Retreat and using The CEO Planner. And this was the game changer for her. Instead of jumping into all the content inside the online program, Nichole used what she learned at The CEO Retreat to select the right strategies for her specific business that would make the biggest impact with the least amount of effort, and move her business forward. She realized that there were a few things she needed to adjust AND she didn’t need to implement everything she was learning all at once in her business. 

Shift 1:: Promote Yourself to CEO

Some of the biggest shifts for Nichole were the internal ones that happened as she really started to examine her relationship with her business. Mainly that her business was running her – she wasn’t running it. And being in that reactive state was holding her back from the business and life she truly wanted! By upgrading her CEO Habits, Nichole was able to start showing up more powerfully in her business. She started having weekly CEO Dates, using a model calendar, and using her CEO Planner to track where she was spending her time and energy.

Shift 2:: Price for Profits

Nichole started thinking about her pricing strategy. What would happen if my business didn’t depend on discounts? What if I didn’t offer discounts on the next launch? At The Solid Bow, Nichole launches new bow collections for each holiday and season on the calendar – so she is always sharing something new to buy with her audience. But what would happen if she didn’t run a discount-driven sale but also charged a premium price for the specialty embroidered bows? After all, she had a truly premium product. Her bows are beautiful and incredibly well made. Moms would message her saying, “They’re indestructible. I used to buy cheap bows on Amazon or big box store, and they would fall apart! I couldn’t wash them. Your bows are amazing.” The new pricing plan – stop discounting and charge MORE for the newest styles and specialty designs.

Shift 3:: Create a Profit Plan

Nichole also made the decision to look at how she was preparing and launching each new collection of bows. She booked herself a 2-day retreat in a hotel just so she could plan ahead. Remember, this is a mom of seven who runs her business from home!  But she realized she needed to have dedicated time to sit down and plan out the next few promotions on the calendar so she could get ahead of everything. There is a ton that goes into each new bow collection launch::

» Ordering from all the suppliers

» Taking pictures of bows

» Adding bows to website

» Creating all the marketing materials

» Posting on social media

» Teasing the new collection to her community

» Sharing with her wholesalers so they can increase their sales

» Not to mention – shipping all the bows to her customers

» Plus many more steps!

Could you even imagine how stressful it would be to try to do all those things the week of a new collection launching? It was chaos before – but Nichole put herself back in the drivers seat during her retreat. She decided instead of letting her business run her, she was going to run her business differently. Since she started implementing these three shifts, I’ve been getting messages like this from her:: Nichole’s business has complete transformed in just a few months::

»  Nichole is making a huge leap from a stressed out solopreneur to confident CEO. Instead of feeling like this launch is the most stressful thing on her calendar, she now has a clear plan with the right pricing, marketing plan, and sales strategy.

» She’s been able to buy back her time and get support at home and in the business… and that could only happen when she was able to press pause to make a plan.

» The Solid Bow is now generating MULTIPLE FIVE FIGURE months, with new collections selling out within hours. And instead of the launch chaos, CEO Nichole Lynn feels confident and in control of her business. 

It is really hard to zoom out from the day-to-day and get that big picture view of your business when you’re in the hustle and grind. That’s when it feels like you’re always putting out fires and everything is an emergency.

But when you can press pause and zoom out to really see the big picture – you can get clear on what will make the biggest difference the fastest.

As much as I wish we could all implement all the things right now, that’s just not how this works! We have to get really strategic about what we choose to focus our time and energy on. And because Nichole was able to zoom out and get crystal clear about the key shifts she needed to make in her business ASAP, she quickly saw results within a couple of months. So I’m not sharing Nichole’s case study to say that we all need to quit our businesses and start selling cute hair bows… … the point is that pressing pause to create a plan can work for ALL BUSINESSES. In the last 15 years I’ve been consulting small businesses, and I have seen this same strategic planning process that Nichole used work for businesses in nearly any industry: manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, finance, and yes the creative and coaching businesses I serve today. The strategic planning process works, whether you have a service-based business, a retail business, or a brick and mortar business.

The power and profits are in the planning. 

Strategic planning truly is the missing piece for a lot of entrepreneurs. This is why so many are finding themselves in that hustle and burnout mode, because they’re constantly head down in the day-to-day, jumping from emergency to emergency, and never truly getting ahead of their business. If this is starting to resonate, then take a deep breath!

The unsexy truth is:: the only way you’re going to get out of this launch, feast or famine, panic-driven cycle in your business is to press pause, to slow down, and get a profit plan in place in your business.

So, what is a profit plan? This is literally the simplest strategy I’ve ever put in place for my clients. This is exactly what we’ve been doing over at the CEO Retreat, this is what the CEO Planner is built around, and this is what we’re going to be doing and helping people with even more inside the CEO Collective. Download this free 12 Month Profit Plan workbook so you can can create a solid strategy to move your business forward this year 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼.

Much larger businesses and corporations all have strategic plans for how they are going to achieve their business goals – and often small business owners feel like they are too small to bother with creating a strategic plan for their business.

But nothing could be further from the truth!

A strategic 12 month profit plan is a foundational business practice that allows those big companies to operate efficiently, determine where they are allocating resources, and keep everyone on the same page.  

There are two key components to your 12 Month Profit Plan::

 

1:: A 5-Part Marketing Plan

It is precisely what we teach my clients, and how I run my business every week to consistently enroll new clients into my programs and services. It starts with a 5-Part Marketing System::

Where I see things breaking down is when the marketing plan is missing one of these five pieces of the puzzle, or they’re not consistently implementing these things into their business.

Let’s walk through what each of these are so that you can choose what you’re going to implement in each part of your marketing strategy:

 
Part 1:: Attract

This is all about getting your business and your brand in front of new people who don’t know who you are. This could include multiple approaches::

Search. If people are actively searching for answers, how do they find you? Well, in the old days they’d pick up a phone book and look through the yellow pages to find businesses under that particular industry. 

But these days… we all head over to Google, Yahoo, Pinterest, or YouTube and we search for answers. 

Search engine optimization definitely is an attract strategy. It generally takes a little longer for the results to grow, but over time it brings organic traffic your way, so it’s a great long-term strategy.

Other People’s Audiences. This is my favorite way to not only attract new people, but build a lot of credibility for you and your business. This could include:

» Writing guest posts

» Interviews on podcasts or traditional media

» Guest teach or speak to other communities

There’s a lot of ways you can get in front of other people’s audiences, and often it’s a great way to showcase and highlight your expertise.

Paid Advertising. The first two options are cash free, but they require time and energy. Paid advertising is a very viable way to get new people to your business quickly. 

Of course, the downside is it’s going to cost you, and it takes a bit of testing in order to get this right. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who jump into ads without understanding how to get the return on ad spend – so I always recommend waiting until you’ve got the other 4 parts of this marketing strategy in place before activating paid ads.

Take Action:: Chose 1 key attract strategy to focus on for 90 days. Once you’ve got that strategy down, you can layer another strategy on top. Resist the urge to overcomplicate!

 

Part 2:: Engage

99% of time when people hit your website, they’ll kind of look around and then they’ll leave. It’s up to us to get those people to stick!

We do that by asking for their contact information – usually their email – so we can can follow up with them. In return we may offer such value as::

» A bref consult

» A proposal

» A discount or free shipping

» Free training or content

If you’ve followed me for any length of time – you’ve probably heard me mention that I have things available for you on my website – like this 12 Month Profit Plan workbook.

These engage pieces are the first step in starting and deepening that relationship with potential clients. From there, you can followup so they can make that decision for themselves whether or not you’re the right person to help them.

Take Action:: What is the engage step you want people to take in your business? This becomes the primary Call to Action in your marketing.

 

Part 3:: Nurture

When most of us think about marketing, what we’re really thinking about is nurture marketing. This is what shows up to your existing audience each and every week… at a minimum once a month! 

The key is consistency – and that’s where many struggle.

What is your nurture marketing strategy? This could be as simple as::

» Choosing a CORE piece of content (blog, podcast, or video)

» Sending a value driven newsletter

» Posting and engaging on social media

Take Action:: What are you committing to in your nurture marketing? How will you stay consistent?

 

Part 4:: Invite

This is where you flip the switch from marketing to sales. You have to have a clear invitation strategy, so you know exactly what you’re doing to invite people to that next step towards working with you. 

If you’re looking to book more 1×1 clients, you might announce that you have X number of spots available to your existing audience (via emails and social media), then book consult calls with those who are interested.

If you’re looking to ‘launch’ a group program or service, you might simply send out a series of emails with all the details, or make a bigger impact by hosting a workshop or webinar to invite people into that offer. 

Take Action:: What is your invitation strategy? How will you convert those community members into paying clients?

 

Part 5:: Delight

What are you doing to wow your customers? 

Delight is an important part of a solid marketing plan, because it is cheaper to keep an existing client than to go out there and find a new client! 

If your business thrives on referrals or repeat business from your clients, you really want to make sure you’re thinking through, “What am I doing to delight my customers? What can I do with my customer experience to really take my clients’ experience of working towards and achieving their goals to the next level?”

Take Action:: What are you doing each month to deliver an incredible customer experience and delight your clients?

Once I’ve planned out my Five Part Marketing Plan, I commit to it for at least 90 days before I layer more ideas and add more complexity to the business. 

This approach gives so much clarity on WHAT we need to be doing – each week and month – to consistently show up and attract clients into our business.

Now that we know our Marketing Plan, we can plug this into the 12 Month Profit Plan.

 

2:: Map Out A 12-Month Profit Plan

Big businesses… they know what they are going to be selling MONTHS in advance.

Sometimes YEARS in advance. 

Think about your local Target (my favorite place to aimlessly wander and buy must-have home accessories). If you were to walk through Target HQ, you’d see a strategic plan that included every single promotion for the next 12 months.

I guarantee that they have already planned their back to school promotions, pumpkin everything for fall, and every winter holiday stock and decor. They could probably already show us today what will be in the stores 6 months from now.

Now I couldn’t get Target to share their calendar… but my very best friend Oprah had her’s right on her website!

Magazines are such a great example of how they plan IN ADVANCE what they are going to be selling. You can see that Oprah Magazine has already planned out the topics for each month for the next 12 months and has clear close dates for content and advertisers who wish to get into the magazine. 

We can take lessons from this! 

We have to create this kind of calendar that lays out what we are selling, when we are selling it, and how we are marketing it.

That’s where the 12 Month Profit Plan comes in::

The first thing I’m thinking about with my 12 month profit plan is WHEN it’s best to launch certain offers. Seasonality matters! And some businesses are more impacted by it than others.

In my business, January has always been a great month because people are in the ‘Brand New Year/New Year New You/Goal-Getter’ zone. That has always been one of our biggest months to promote programs that help entrepreneurs to achieve business growth goals.

September has a similar vibe with a little more ‘Summer is over and it’s time to get back on track’ energy. We use that knowledge in our planning!

Summer months on the other hand can be a little slow for us. We know our clients are taking family vacations, traveling, juggling kids at home from school. So we generally don’t plan a big promotion during that time of year.

And on the flip side, I have clients who are on a completely different schedule. I have some clients who THRIVE during the summer months (especially those who have vacation rental businesses), or get most of their sales in the fourth quarter (retail product businesses).

So take a moment and think about how seasonality could impact your business. If you’re not sure what is on your potential clients’ minds throughout the year, that’s when looking at editorial calendars from magazines like Oprah could be helpful!

Ok once I’ve considered seasonality – I want to actually start plugging things into my 12 Month Profit Plan using this process::

 

Step 1:: Life Before Business

This is a huge value for me. I always start my planning with my life FIRST, then design my business to fit into that.

Each month, I look at my personal calendar and make notes of::

» Family birthdays

» School holidays

» Kid Events (Recitals, Concerts, Sports, etc)

» Vacations

» Personal Travel

Having that in front of me has more than once saved me from attempting to run a big launch in January the same week as my twins’ birthday. 

 

Step 2:: Signature Offers

Next we use the 12 Month Profit Planner to decide when we will sell our signature offering. This is the offer that generates the most revenue for your business so we want to consider the seasonality of our business as we plan.

You can promote this offer more than once through the year – in fact, we promote 3-4X per year, allowing the payment plans to create predictable profits over the following months.

 

Step 3:: Upgrade Offers

The next thing we plug into the calendar is an upgrade offering. You might have an offer that is available only for your existing clients – people who loved working with you and would like the opportunity to continue at a new level. These can be client-facing only that the public never hears about.

We fill the CEO Accelerator Mastermind primarily with people who have already participated in The CEO Retreat or other programs. We may start this promotion internally just to existing clients and never need to publicly open seats. Knowing that helps us plan ahead!

The nice thing about having client-only offers is that it does give your audience a bit of a breather between public promotions. 

 

Step 4:: Bite-Sized Offers

We also plug in smaller, bite-sized offers into the profit plan. Not everyone is going to be ready for your signature offer – so this is a great opportunity to serve some clients at a lower price point. 

In my business, it’s The CEO Retreat. We host this event (currently only virtually though we love to host these in person) each quarter – and it’s a perfect bite-size taste of the work we do inside The CEO Collective and The CEO Accelerator.

By staggering the types of offers – all at different price points and levels of service – we give our community many opportunities to find our offering that’s just right for them.

 

Step 5:: FREE Offers

That’s right!

We want to be dedicating some time to giving away tons of VALUE and treating it just as seriously as you might a big launch.

This is so important because we need to have dedicated times of audience-building in our calendar.

We have to remember that communities are either growing or shrinking. They don’t stay stagnant. But once people start leaving (unfollowing your business or unsubscribing from your email list) you need to replace them with someone new!

And if you want to GROW your revenues… you have to do more than just replace those who are opt-ing out of your community. Making sure you’re always offering some value, no strings attached, will make sure people stick with you.

 

Step 6:: Marketing Marketing Marketing! 

Now that we know WHAT we are selling WHEN over the next 12 months, we need to think about HOW we will be marketing that offer. 

I want to make sure I’m thinking about that in advance – the night before the launch is a terrible time to be throwing together all of the pieces of the puzzle. We start marketing for all of our offers as many as 4-6 weeks in advance.

 

Step 7:: Goals Check

Chances are you have other goals for this year in your business.

Maybe you are working on a book. 

Maybe you are dreaming of landing your first paid speaking gig. 

Maybe you are working on a brand new program for your biz.

I want you to make sure that you are taking those consistent steps towards achieving those goals… so each month, ask yourself what other milestones you need to hit to achieve your goals.

Download the 12 Month Profit Plan. It might take an hour to really sit down and plan everything out but this is a tool that will help you filter and guide decision making, and truly keep you laser-focused on the strategies that will move your business forward.

Having a 12 Month Profit Plan is almost like having a shield against all those shiny objects – all the trends, all the tips and tactics – because you can clearly decide if it fits or doesn’t fit with your overall plan. And that will move the needle for you faster than anything, I promise.

In the next and final installment of The Unsexy Secrets to Sustainable Success, we’re going to talk about the work that we’ve been doing with our CEOs and what to expect inside The CEO Collective – because at the end of the day, while having a plan is great, it only works if you work the plan!

TLDR

1:: One of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs? BURNOUT. 

2:: If you want to burnout proof your business, don’t be afraid to press pause and create a real profit plan that includes a clear marketing strategy and promotional calendar for the year ahead.

3:: Shiny Object Syndrome No More! A clear profit plan gives your business the clarity and focus it needs to grow.