This is a short podcast discussing a few takeaways from our mentor groups this past week. During this week’s meetings, a few things that really stood out were the “I think” vs “I know” thought process, the importance of continuous learning, and the importance of having plans in writing. These are all important and relevant to the small business owner.

One of the reasons why having plans in writing resonated with me so much is because how often I see them lacking. Almost half of the small business owners I talk to don’t have a business plan in writing, only about 20% have a real marketing plan, and probably less than 15% have a true financial plan for their business. These plans are not weights holding you back but rather tools to help succeed; if you do not have them, it is imperative that you get them written ASAP. Remember, it is your responsibility as a business owner to drive your business forward, and these plans will enable you to do so.

You can listen to the full podcast here or you can read the transcript below.

Transcript: 

Before we get into this, I want to take a few quick moments and thank our champion sponsors: Acciva, Merchant Masters, Job Formance, and McGraw Capital Partners. Without their support, we wouldn’t be able to bring this to you today. So thank you to each and every one of those entities for helping us support small business owners across the country. Today, I kind of wanted to take a few minutes to talk about and discuss the implementation of the education that we’ve learned over the last few weeks from our, from our podcast, guests, from our seminars, so on and so forth. But there were two things that stood out to me in particular, in particular. And I just want to take a few quick minutes to kind of share that, share that with you.

One of the things that really stood out to me in those discussions was the context or rather discussion of don’t think. But no. So here’s kind of the background on that. Now, in some of our mentorship groups, we were talking about securing mobile devices, implementing proper cyber security practices. Uh, Jessica, Jessica Robinson with pure point international gave a great seminar. So if you haven’t seen it, feel free to go back on our YouTube channel, rewatch, the seminar, she gave a lot of really good information and a few really good action. And it was for small business owners. And some of that were rather included in that was securing your mobile devices, securing your authentications, your log-ins reviewing emails before you take any action in and things like that. And as we were going through some of that implementation, we were like, you know, how can we apply this to our businesses?

What does this look like? There was a common theme of, yeah, I think that’s a, I think everything’s in good order, but then when we stopped like that and we thought, do we know for a fact it’s where it needs to be? The resounding answer was, you know what, come to think of it. I probably need to get confirmation on that and that’s okay that you need confirmation, but I really want to just talk about that for a minute. Don’t make false assumptions in your business. That can be extremely dangerous, particularly when you’re talking cybersecurity. As one example, if there’s something that you’re not 100% sure on, and you’ve been asked about it, or you have a question about it, don’t settle on. I think so go back, find the data, the facts, confirm it, and then go forward. Don’t live in the, I think wrong.

Whenever you make assumptions, you’re putting a lot on the line quite frequently, unnecessarily. And in a situation like cyber security, if you don’t know something is as secure as it needs to be. If you don’t know that the proper practice is in place, absolutely go back and take another. Look at that. The only thing that’s going to cost you is a little bit of time, a little bit of sweat equity, go back and confirm it because if you go back and you find that it’s not what you think it is, you’re going to be very thankful that you did in fact, go back and take a look at that. It’s when you live in this world of assumptions, that you really run into issues quickly or even worse, you don’t catch them. They build up over time and then they hit it in a moment’s notice.

And then it’s too late. So really please don’t live in the assumption world. Don’t live in that. I think world living in the I know world, there are always going to be things that we need to follow up on. And yes, I understand that there are only 24 hours in the day. Every small business owner has a lot going on, but you need to make time to get confirmation on those key variables. You know, cybersecurity being one of them. If you’ve gotten, I think rather than I know, take the time, invest in the research and invest, make that investment of time into your business to confirm that, you know, it is secure. The worst thing that can have that you can have happen would be going back and say, Hey, yeah, I think my mobile devices are secure. I think my log has is a year.

And then, you know, weeks, months, maybe it’s even a year later, you get a massive issue. It’s like, Oh, I didn’t know that don’t live in the, I think world, we live in the, I know world, go get confirmation on it. You’ll be very thankful that you did another key takeaway for me, at least in this week of mentorship was always be learning. Always learn something new. You don’t have to learn something big and massive everyday, but always be learning something, stay up to date, make that proactive effort to learn something new. Maybe it’s about the way you conduct your business. Maybe it’s about your operations. Maybe it’s about something as theoretical as AI in a practical sense for small business, we know that AI is coming down the pipeline. We know it has some things to improve upon before it’s widely implemented in small business, but you could take, uh, take any content, any topic that you like spend a little time researching.

It always be learning. Maybe you read from learning a book. Maybe you, maybe you learn from, uh, listening to a podcast, whatever that methodology, whatever that Avenue of learning may be, embrace it, go for it. Always learn. Always seek to learn because when you draw that out over an extended period of time, you’re going to learn quite a lot. And then the other thing is you get to learn from what other people have done. So it’s not just theoretical knowledge, but you’re actually learning practical application. You can learn to see what works, what doesn’t work. Um, you get to track, you know, learn how to track data. For example, there are so many different things to learn. And again, you don’t have to learn it all in one day, but reserve just a little bit of time every day to learn something. And that kind of, you know, brings us to the next question.

Who and what are you learning from? You should have a few reliable sources that you go to, you know, I’m seeking to learn XYZ about, you know, XYZ topics was the XYZ podcast or read XYZ book, identify that learning channel or those learning channels multiple and embrace them, get them into that regular daily habit. Always learning, always be learning. It’s one of those things that’s necessary as a business owner, because everything ultimately stops with you. You don’t have the luxury of getting comfortable with the knowledge that you have knowledge grows and it transfers. And it changes form way too quickly in our modern economy for you to get comfortable. So take some time every day. Again, it doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be an hour. It doesn’t have to be even half an hour reserved as little as 10 to 15 minutes, learn something new everyday block off a little bit of time.

Again, it can be as little as 10 to 15 minutes in read, listen to a podcast, do a little bit of research. And again, it could be topic based. It could be author based. It could be production company based. Find that Avenue that speaks to you find that Avenue where you consistently learn something whenever you engage with them and get that into the regular schedule, always be learning something. It doesn’t matter what it is. Again, it doesn’t have to be a lot, but always be learning something, keep moving that ball forward. Because again, just because you aren’t doesn’t mean that your competition is up, there’s always someone else out there trying to learn, trying to grow. They’re very hungry. They’re very ambitious. And in order to stay ahead of the game, you have to beat that way as well. And one of the best ways to do that always be learning.

So definitely, please, please, please make sure that you incorporate that into your daily practice. And then in closing, we talked about this at our Metro groups as well. It’s kind of like a business one-on-one health check, so to speak. Do you have a business plan? Do you have a marketing plan? And do you have a financial plan? And then I’m going to put the caveat on these. Do you have them in writing? If they’re not in writing, they don’t count. There are, these plans serve a couple of different purposes. One very practical application of them is that you can transfer the knowledge and that you can transfer the operations to someone else. Let me give you a silly example of why that’s important. Let’s say you’re a small business owner. Your business is doing well. You know that the industry, you know, the players, you know what, the way everything works, but doing it for several years and you’ve got it down, you know, it’s run smoothly and you want to take, you know, a couple of weeks off or maybe no two weeks off, but then spend a couple of weeks extra, you know, working remotely. Obviously there are going to be somethings you can’t do remotely, but you know, you want to be able to get some extra time with the family you’ve invested in your business. You know, this is, this is part of the reward.

How are you going to transfer everything that you know, to the members of your team without having it in writing? And the key answer is you can’t, you have to have some methodology of that transfer. So even from an operational standpoint, it’s simply makes sense. It’s good business practice. It’s truly business. One Oh one had these three plans readily available, recorded. And in writing, you don’t have to necessarily look at them every day, except for the financial plan. You want to stay up to date because things can change very quickly there. But for the business plan and marketing plan, build the framework, build a methodology because again, building a business is building a set of systems and processes. You want it to be a repeatable predictable cycle that creates value for both the buyer and the seller in order to do that, you have to have a game plan.

Thank you, but like a football game, there’s no way you’re getting into a football game without having a game plan. Yes. The game plan is probably going to change before the games over. They’re going to be things that happen that aren’t in the plan. The same thing with business writing a business plan doesn’t mean that you’re locking yourself in concrete, in any shape way or form, but it gives you a game plan. It gives you a guiding roadmap, which is essential, not only for your own benefit, but also for keeping your team on the same page. And then another really practical component. If you ever seek out some type of funding, whether it be, um, like a loan from a bank for business purposes, or you’re looking to sell your business or anything like that, you’re going to want to have those plans in place because otherwise it’s going to be very, very difficult to transfer ownership.

And it’s going to be very difficult to be taken seriously. If you don’t have these plans again, as a very important point to note, you don’t have to sell your business, but you want to build it so that it is sellable. Otherwise you are risking a lot of inefficiency and missed opportunity, which will come back to haunt you. So please make sure you have a business plan, have a marketing plan and have a financial plan. Many of these, you can get, you can download at no cost through various websites. I find that the more intricate they are, they tend to be better depending upon your size scope and scale. But there’s also some very, very simple ones. Um, again, it doesn’t have to be elaborate or intricate, but have something in writing so you can plug variables in and out. So you can have team members come in, whether they’ve been with you for 15 years or 15 seconds and know exactly why you’re doing what you’re doing, what it is that you do, and then how you accomplish that.

Having those plans in writing and readily available, it will help keep everyone on the same page. It will help give you some direction. Help gives you that roadmap, and it will help you run your business more effectively and more efficiently. You make sure to stay safe, stay blessed. If you haven’t like the McGraw council on our Facebook page, sign up for our, and share it to your Facebook wall as well. If you found this beneficial or intriguing, feel free to help us share the word and help small business owners achieve their American dream. Because remember, as we had to say here at the McGraw council, we’re bullish on the American dream and we’re bullish on your future.

John M Beaman
President of The McGraw Council Membership, Inc.
03/11/21