Do You Know Where You Are?

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”So many entrepreneurs just don’t know where they’re starting from, and end up taking inefficient and ineffective action to get to where they want to go.  For many, the first glimpse of their past year results is when they have their taxes done, which I have found in my 20 years of preparing tax returns for small businesses to be 4+ months after their year-end and into their current fiscal year.  But how can you get a good handle on your strategic action plan for a successful year if you don’t even know where you’re starting from?

That’s why I feel Step 2 – Knowing where you are now, financially, systematically and operationally, is an essential step in the process of creating your strategic action plan for success. This means you’re going to have to get organized with your financials and conduct a little internal assessment of where your are now in your business.

Once you have a good picture of your current financial situation, skills and resources, internal controls and risk management practices, you can figure out what you’re missing and need to put in place (Step 3 – Analyze the gaps between where you want to go and where you are now) in order to effectively build your action plan for how you will achieve the goals you set for your business in Step 1 of the 8 steps to create your road map to success.  (By the way, If you missed my 8 Steps to Building your Road Map to Success post, or last week’s post on Step 1 – Start with the end in mind, you can get them HERE.)

Statistics show that 85% of business failures are a result of improper organization and planning.  So why is it that so many entrepreneurs don’t have their records organized and up to date?  Some of the reasons I hear are: not enough time (and no one to help), not knowing how, and outright fear of money and finances (YIKES!).

On of my clients, Susan, recently shared with me that 2015 was her best year in a long time, that she had a lot of growth in the fall, and that a big part of that success had to do with me helping her to change her mindset about finances and understand her financial numbers in a strategy session we had back in the summer.  She had long been tracking, monitoring and using her marketing and social media metrics to gain more traffic and clients, but had fallen short of using her financial metrics effectively to grow her profits and cash flow.   As she put it, finances scared her, so she ignored them.  I helped her see that they weren’t scary at all (and in fact, they could be her best friend) and showed her how she could use her financial metrics to make more effective business decisions based on what her numbers were telling her.  So kudos to Susan for using her new knowledge and mindset to create a great year!

If you find yourself resisting the task of getting your finances up to date and organized, or if you just struggle with tracking and understanding your financial numbers, I can help.  Contact me to set up your complimentary Business Clarity Breakthrough session to discuss a strategy for success with this essential step in creating business success, and ask for my Business Management Assessment Questionnaire.

Complete the following form to request a private Clarity Session with Linda

How can I help? What are your top 3 business priorities/pressing issues that you would like solved right away?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

Kick Start Your Year with Clarity and Focus

“Be INSPIRED to create what you imagine” (Linda J. Spencer)

Mondo nell'acqua dell'oceanoWelcome to a brand new year…time to kick-start your strategic action plan with clarity and focus!  Strategic business planning is essential for your business success.  Your business plan is like a roadmap – it gives your direction for where you want to go and how to get there with the most direct route.  A good strategic plan keeps you focused.

In November, I posted my 8 Steps to Building Your Road map to Success.  Over the next 8 weeks, I’ll dive deeper into what each of those steps are, and specific actions you can take to create your own road map to success.

So, where do you start?  You should start with the end in mind…this is Step 1 to creating your business success road map:  define and clarify your goals.

The key with defining the end result you want in your business is to get really clear about what you want and why.  Ask yourself key questions like:

  • Where do you want your business to go? What do you want to create with your business? and WHY? Write down your goals for the next year, 3 years, 10 years.  Really challenge yourself – Dream BIG!  Studies show that if you think small, you’ll play small – so think BIG and play BIG!
  • What would really make your heart sing to achieve in your business long-term?
  • What impact would achieving these goals have on your life? What would it mean for your family?
  • What are your SMART (specific, meaningful, attainable, relevant, time sensitive) stretch goals for this year? List your BIG revenue goals as well as things like the number of customers you want to serve and any new projects you want to launch / implement.  Don’t try to boil the ocean here, but make them big enough to excite you and be impactful…pick just 1 to 3 key things that you’ll focus on this year that will really pull your business forward to meeting your long term BIG objectives.  Chunk them down into key milestones, and add target dates to them.

With your goals for the next year clarified, you can now move forward with focus in making business decision and taking inspired action that is aligned with those goals.

Stay tuned for next week…I’ll get into Step 2 of creating your business success roadmap…the essential step of knowing where you’re starting from!

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Your Real Goals

Compass Plan quote

Welcome 2016!  For me, as with every other year past, the year started with making more concrete my action plans to realize my goals.  Goals are important. Everyone knows this. That’s why there are goal-setting retreats, workshops, seminars and journals. If you never pick a point on the horizon, how do you know which direction to walk?

However, most people’s goals aren’t really their goals. Many people set goals in reaction to the responsibilities, expectations and demands they face in their life. Maybe your goal is to make six figures this year, but you are motivated to make that money because you have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Maybe your goal is to finish writing your book, but it’s not because you care about the book…you just want the approval of those who’ve said, “Hey, you should write a book!”
Maybe you are striving to get that advanced degree, but it’s only to satisfy the prodding of your parents.

Real goals are the ones that YOU actually care about. They light you up, give you energy and make you feel excited. Real goals have nothing to do with expectation or obligation, and everything to do with what matters most to YOU.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”

Of course, we’re bombarded every day with expectation and obligation. We have to react to a constant barrage of requests, demands and last-minute emergencies. And when those are handled, it’s time to rest so we can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

My friend, it’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to dream.

In order to get in touch with the things that will make your life amazing, you need to take quiet time to reflect on and listen to what it is you REALLY want.  I used to set goals only for my job and my family.  But in the last few years, I have another drive – the drive for REAL goals, my soul’s desires that light me up and motivate my every other goal and action plan.

Leaving your family and responsibilities for a long weekend to venture into the woods for a journey of self-exploration may not be feasible.  But you can start with a simple “sit-down”.  A “sit-down” is a five-minute meditation followed by 20 minutes of journaling. Ask yourself, “What do I really want?” The real answers will feel thrilling. Write them down. Circle the most exciting ones, put realistic deadlines next to them, and create your action plan.  This is how I spent my afternoons this first weekend of 2016 – sitting quietly in nature, resting at my favorite tree on the ridge, listening to the answers come to me in the wind.  The answers were nothing new, just affirmations of what I already knew that I wanted, but had set aside months earlier…giving me a kick to restart and refocus on their fulfillment this year, and I created an action plan and target dates to accomplish things.  For me, 2016 is the year to make what’s possible into reality 🙂

Often our dreams feel far away, impossible to achieve, or unreachable for a variety of reasons we’ve made up in our minds, or others have told us.  But MANY goals are achievable when we think them through, plan them out in simple steps, and consistently allocate time to them.

Life is too short to spend it chasing someone else’s goals or dismissing your own because someone else said it’s not possible.  Don’t wait another moment – pursue your real goals today!

If you would like to assistance to clarify or to review your goals and action plans, to make sure that they are aligned, feel free to give me a call or complete the form below.  I’d be happy to have a discussion and help you!

Complete the following form to request a private Clarity Session with Linda

How can I help? What are your top 3 business priorities/pressing issues that you would like solved right away?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

The Power of a Promise

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This time of the year, probably more so than any other, is the time that we reminisce over our past, and contemplate our futures.

While we are attending gatherings with friends and families, breaking bread together, sharing gifts and good times, and rolling into the new year with new energy and gusto, we are also creating big dreams, setting exciting goals, and making important promises.  “I’m going to make 2016 my best year ever”, “I’m going to grow my list”, “I’m not going to work so hard”, “I’m going to finally get my health back” , “This is the year to pay off my debt.”

You know your promises – you’ve probably made them more than once in the past. Some you have kept; many are nagging reminders of unfulfilled commitments.

In Bill Phillips’ book Body for Life, he explains why keeping promises to ourselves is much more important than it appears on the surface.

Bill writes, “When you set an important goal you must promise yourself that you will finish what you start, no matter what.  That vow, although it might be very easy to break, is by far one of the most important ones to honor.  You see, the very essence of confidence is self-trust.  Would you trust anyone who repeatedly lied to you?  Someone who broke the rules of the game again and again?  Of course you wouldn’t. 

Beautiful woman with her fingers crossed behind her back

So if you’ve developed a pattern of not honoring self-promises, this is a great time to make a change.  If you can’t honor, trust, and depend on your own word, well… that may be the root of a lot of challenges in your life – a lot more than you realize.

 This is a critical – and eye opening – issue for each of us to face.

 Most people have a very hard time answering the simple question, “Do I keep my word to myself?” (Or, should I say, they have a hard time answering it honestly.)

 The thing about lying to ourselves is that we never, ever get away with it.  On the surface we may fool our minds into ignoring and not admitting what we’re doing, but deep down, in the place where all truth resides for each of us, in the place where we know and see ourselves as we really are – in that place, we are causing pain and damage every  time we’re not totally honest with ourselves…

 …It doesn’t have to be like that though.  No matter how long it has been like that, it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Contrary to what many people think, it’s a lot easier to keep the promises we make to ourselves than it is to break them.

 Keeping these promises unleashes enormous energy and potential.  That potential emptiness created by self-deception will become filled with strength, certainty – and yes, confidence – if you honor self-promises.  (We’ve all heard the phrase “The truth shall set you free”.  Well, nowhere is that more true than when we apply it to our relationship with ourselves.)”

So how can you take this knowledge and apply it to your business, career, health, finances and relationships?  Are there promises that you are making and not keeping?  How does that affect your energy, motivation and progress?  How does it make you feel about yourself?

So what can you do to make this shift?  How about starting small?  How about setting daily goals and sticking with them? commitment How about making the commitment to establish a business plan with activity goals and financial goals so you know where you are headed?   How about giving yourself permission to fail?  How about agreeing to measure and adjust along the way so you know you are not “stuck” with a plan that is not ideal?  What else can you do?

Fill out the link below to request the Power of Promise Assessment and Accountability worksheet…Complete the activities on this worksheet to increase your awareness around promises you make and keep, and those you make and break.  Additionally these activities will strengthen your promise making and keeping ‘muscle’ for more commitment, follow-through, confidence, and yes – trust.

The significance of keeping promises to ourselves is profound.  Examine your own habits to see if in fact you break the promises you make to yourself.  And if so, make the shift to putting your promises at the top of your commitment list.

I can help you get clear on your business promises and provide you with accountability…ask me how!  Click HERE to request your complimentary Business Clarity Session where you will:

  • Gain CLARITY into exactly where you want your business to go and what’s standing in your way of more income and cash flows,
  • Leave the session CLEAR about the steps you need to take to leverage your time and create more profits and cash flow in your business, and
  • Find out the one simple step you can take IMMEDIATELY to get into action.

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8 Simple Steps to Create Your Business Success Road Map

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You know how it goes – you talk to financial advisors, they work with you to create a plan for financial savings and investment.  You talk to your fitness coach, they work with you to create a plan to reach your fitness goals.  You plan your wedding, your home renovations, your family vacations.  You spend time and money investing in planning in other areas of your life, why would you not do the same for your business?
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Investing in strategic business planning is essential for your business success.  A strategic business plan is your road map, your compass to guide you to where you want to go with your business.  It gives you clear direction of how to get from point A to point B without getting lost.  A good strategic business plan helps you to execute efficiently and not waste time with trial and error, or with what I like to call, the spaghetti method (throwing something at the wall and hoping it sticks).  A good strategic plan keeps you focused.
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It’s never too late (or too early) to create your business plan for success, whether you’re new to business and in the pre-launch phase, or have been in business for years.
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I get it, creating a business plan can be daunting (I know – I’ve seen the templates, tried to use them myself, and abandoned them as they gave me headaches).  You don’t need a 50 page business plan document, but you do need to invest some time and energy into the planning exercise if you want to have focus and direction.  My own business plan isn’t a 50 page document…it’s an organized, tabbed binder with different sections of business planning consideration (such as goals, target market, products & services, pricing strategies, sales & marketing strategies, financial plans, etc).

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DREAM. PLAN. EXECUTE, with ease, by going the most direct, efficient way possible.
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Having a good strategic business plan is absolutely essential to your success and the lack thereof is why so many businesses fail.  In fact, 85% of business failures are due to lack of improper planning and organization.
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But you don’t need a 50 page plan to succeed.  What you do need is a simple, executable plan that will help you succeed!  And you need to do your homework!  A written plan is just evidence that you’ve done your homework to ensure the viability of your big idea and to set a clear direction and path to success.
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Here are 8 simple steps to creating your business plan for success:


  1.  Start with the end in mind – where do you want your business to go? Write down your goals for the next year, 3 years, 10 years.  Really challenge yourself – Dream BIG!  If you think small, you’ll play small – so think BIG!

  2. Know where you are now, financially, systematically, operationally. This means you’re going to have to get organized with your financials and conduct a little internal assessment of where your are now.

  3. Analyze the gaps to see where you need to invest more time/effort/resources. What skills to you need to develop?  Where do you need to shift your time and resources?  What money and success mindsets and habits do you need to adopt to help close those gaps?

  4. Clarify your target market , understand your market and competitors, and build your marketing plan. Do your homework and get really crystal clear here – it will drive almost everything else in your business plan, including how you’re going to fill some of those gaps you identified.

  5. Build your service offerings in such a way that addresses your clients biggest pain points with ease, and create a financial plan based delivering those service offerings (focus on a few key priorities instead of trying to offer everything under the sun to everyone). You can now tweak and finalize your marketing plan.

  6. Identify systems and your team that will support you and your business. You can’t do it all yourself, as least not efficiently and without burnout.  You need a team, whether it’s hiring employees or hiring out certain functions of your business (such as bookkeeping, sales and administration).  Decide on the systems that are going to support you the most and create the most ease for you in your business.  Systems can be as simple as checklists and calendars, to full operations manuals and fully automated end-to-end solutions.   Automate as much as possible.

  7. Have back up plans for when things don’t quite go as initially planned. Every business hits roadblocks at some point – power failures, illness, market crashes, changes in direction.  And you need to be prepared to make detours so that the roadblocks don’t derail your journey to success.

  8. Start driving your way to success, and celebrate the milestones as you reach them. Check in with how you’re doing against your plans, and build in what I call reflection days – days that you take to reflect how your week/month/year went, what you’re doing well, and where you’ve fallen short, so you can adjust your course as needed.

Remember, business success does not happen over night.  And business planning is not a one-time thing.   Your plan is a living, breathing document (or binder with tabs in my case), that should be revisited at least annually (quarterly is better). Take time to stop and reflect regularly to see where you are in achieving your goals, and to adjust your course as necessary to get back on track if you’ve been derailed.
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Where you focus your attention is where you will get results.  So get planning and take inspired action to realize those business results that you want to achieve!  I love success stories and would love to hear how you’re doing so I can share in celebrating your success!   Email me at Linda@visionspire.ca.
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PS – If you are ready for assistance with building or even reviewing your plans, book your complimentary clarity call to clarify what your next steps should be.  I’d be happy to help you build your strategy and action plan for success!

Complete the following form to request a private Clarity Session with Linda

How can I help? What are your top 3 business priorities/pressing issues that you would like solved right away?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.

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Weathering the Storms – Team Support

I think one of the most difficult things as a business owner (especially women) is reaching out for help.   We tend to believe that we can do it all ourselves, to run our business, our homes, our lives and weather the storms alone.  Truth is, we don’t need to, and why would we want to?  The worst thing we could do is keep all the burden to ourselves for ourselves – it will only lead to stress, illness, burnout and ultimate business failure.  The biggest step to take is to change our mindset, from lone warrior to co-creator, and to acknowledge we do need help to create our dream with more ease.  Then, we need to ask for that help.  There is a whole team of people just waiting for us to ask for their help in creating our business success.
Read more on setting business goals and reflection to hold your confidence during the storms of your business in my contribution to Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce blog posted November 5, 2015…
(This post is also published on my former site LindaSpencerTaxConsulting.com)