How To Build a Solid Growth Plan For Your Start-Up Business

As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently hired on as an investment partner & strategist for a concrete countertops construction biz in Charlotte, NC. I think it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited about it…

My main task for the last two months has been helping my partner (and the owner of the company) build a solid growth plan and marketing strategy for the next two years. I’ve learned a lot in the process, and as promised I’m giving you access to my brain here in this blog. Most of what I’m about to share is stuff I already knew from my previous experiences, but I think (and hope) you’ll find it valuable if you’re trying to build a business of your own.

Also, since this is a blog post, I’m going to keep it brief. These are just some basic steps to building a solid growth plan and marketing strategy for your start-up that should help you get going. But once you do get going, if you’d like additional help, feel free to leave a comment below this post with any questions.

1. Begin with the end in mind. This requires that you think ahead, and it’s a vital first step for any large project. Identify what your goals are, write them down and create deadlines to keep you moving forward.  You may want to start by answering questions for yourself such as:

  • Where do I want to be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
  • What is my goal for profit in year 1, 2, 5, 10, etc.?

With specific goals and deadlines in place, you’ll be much more motivated to stay the course. Without a specific path, you’re more likely to veer off and end up right back where you started.

In our case, we are starting with concrete countertops right now. Our goal is to add at least 5 new services and projects to our portfolio each year, outside of just countertops.

2. Identify your target market(s). Who is your audience and who are you looking to help by offering the services you’re offering? Be as specific and as descriptive as possible, using criteria such as age, gender, location and income to help you identify exactly who it is you want to appeal to when marketing your products and services.

For concrete countertops — at least in our case — the target is mid-to-high-income male or female homeowners and/or business owners who are looking to renovate their space.

3. Make a list of marketing tools. Now that you’ve identified your target market(s), you need a way to connect with them. There are various marketing tools that you can utilize, such as a website, social media, list building/email marketing software, local networking groups, lead generation services and more. This is when you should revisit step 1 and think about which tools are most likely going to help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.

We have already built a website and social media pages and just recently hired a lead generation company to help us hit our targets for year one. (See step 5 for more on outsourcing help for your start-up.)

4. Write your budget & plan. Before you can really lay out your plan, you must have a budget in mind. Having a budget will help you avoid unnecessary spend and keep you on target to begin profiting as quickly as possible. This is where a lot of companies go wrong. Of course you have to spend money to make money — that’s a given. But you should be smart about exactly how you spend your money, and having a detailed budget written out will keep you on target and keep you from going broke within the first year.

Once you’ve established a budget, write out a plan that includes your goals, the tools you’ll use, and the timeline for execution. (Another benefit of having a budget is that it can help you determine which tools will be the biggest bang for your buck in helping you meet your goals!)

5. Hire some help. You can’t do this all on your own. Adam (the guy who owns the concrete company) was smart to approach me and get help creating the growth strategy for his business, and I’d encourage all business owners to outsource help wherever possible. If you can’t afford to hire people, there are other options. You could offer an unpaid internship, or you could offer a percentage of sales and/or equity. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to hiring help.

Make sure you include additional employees in your budget. If you do this right, your business will begin to grow at a rapid pace, and you’ll need more people to help you do the things you’re not so good at. There’s a danger in thinking you’re good at everything and can do it all. I see so many executives screw themselves over time and time again by thinking they need to control everything. Like all of us who are human, you have weaknesses. Recognize what they are and seek help from others who are stronger than you in those areas and can help you fill in those gaps. Even if that means giving up equity — wouldn’t you rather have 50% of something than 100% of nothing?

There you have it. A quick 5-step reference guide to get you on track. Now go out there and build your business! And let us know how these tips work for you by leaving a comment below.

It’s Been a While… Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Just wanted to give you all a quick update on what I’ve been doing lately.

Not sure if I mentioned it before, but my dad owns a tree service company. He was out in an upscale neighborhood working on a landscaping job about two months ago. The owner of the house came out to the front lawn and they started talking. Turns out, the guy owns a concrete construction company and was looking for a business partner. He asked my dad if he knew anyone, and he said, “no, but I’ll ask my son — he’s pretty business-savvy.”

(Thanks, dad.)

Long story short, I ended up becoming an investment partner for this guy’s business. Right now, he mostly builds concrete countertops for people in the Charlotte, NC area, but he’s looking to grow it into a large-scale, full-service concrete construction company in the next year or two. He hired me to help him in exchange for equity and part-ownership.

So for the last 2 months, I’ve been working on a business growth strategy and marketing plan with a few of my colleagues and haven’t really had as much time to post on this blog; but I do plan to get back to it soon. Wanted to give my readers an update, just in case you were wondering where I’ve been… I figured all 3 of you deserved an answer, especially since my website analytic reports are showing that you keep coming back looking for more. 😉 That means you’re loyal. I like loyal…

Anyway, please make sure and check back next week for another post on the topic of how to build a solid growth plan for your start-up business.

Hey, I might as well write about it since I’ve been doing it for the last 2 months, right?

coffee with butter and coconut oil

The Best Coffee On the Planet (and a Recipe!)

As a life coach and an entrepreneur, I have to stay awake for long periods of time and stay focused throughout the day in order to be productive. I used to drink a lot of energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, etc.), but since then I’ve switched to good, old-fashioned coffee. Only the way I make it is not so old fashioned. And because it’s packed with good fats, it’s even healthier than just plain black coffee and much better for you than coffee with cream and sugar. (FYI: I used to drink it with a splash of cream, no sugar.)

This recipe is one I found online and tweaked for my own pleasure. The woman in the video calls it a full fat latte. I’m telling you, I don’t care what you call it – it’s delicious! A few points about each of the ingredients:

Coconut oil is good for so many things, but the great thing about putting it in your coffee is that it actually helps distribute the caffeine to your system slowly throughout the day instead of all at once. That means you won’t have that 3 p.m. crash. You know, the crash. Where you literally feel like putting your head down on your computer keyboard and taking a 20-minute power nap because you’re SO tired… it used to happen to me, before I found this amazing coffee recipe. Not only does it help me avoid the crash, it gives me sustained energy from sunup to sundown and tastes great!

Butter is not just a healthy fat, it’s what gives this coffee the perfect, frothy consistency. What a great, healthy replacement for cream!

Do not skip the vanilla or the salt! Together, these ingredients will give your coffee a hint of salty caramel taste. It’s better than anything you’ll get at Starbucks, and healthier too!

Okay, okay, I’ll stop talking so you can get the recipe already (assuming you haven’t watched that video yet.)

1 tbsp grass-fed butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (sugar-free is best if you have it)
16 oz. of freshly brewed coffee

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

woman doing yoga pose on top of a rock

5 Tips To Live Healthy Without Medication

Most people want to know about natural living and curing ailments and diseases without dependence on drugs and medicines. However, the majority of them are also skeptics as they wonder why more doctors aren’t prescribing natural remedies if they are supposedly so efficient. The answer is simple- pharmaceutical companies do not want us to know the simple fact that most diseases are a result of malnutrition, stress and poor lifestyle. Adding more drugs inside an already sick body is like throwing toxic waste in an already polluted river. This is why drugs for curing diseases offer only short term relief. In this guide, I will discuss 5 proven tips that can help you live healthier, without resorting to conventional medicines or drug therapies.

Tip #1: Try alternative remedies

Today, many alternative remedies are proven to actually work better than conventional drugs which usually have a plethora of side effects. So you could try massage therapy, Acupressure or acupuncture, Indian science of Ayurveda, or even homeopathic remedies for a particular medical condition. Many people who have tried these have seen fantastic results and even completely eliminated their disease from the root. If you are dealing with chronic aches and pains, search for “chiropractor Charlotte NC” online and find a chiropractor near you. Many people have seen dramatic improvements through chiropractic adjustments in as little as 3 visits! (By the way, if you click on that link, you’ll be taken to my friend Holly’s website. She’s my chiropractor as well, and in my opinion, the best one in Charlotte.)

Tip #2: Make small changes

Start by making conscious health and dietary choices and small changes. Avoid crash diets that promise instantaneous and rapid weight loss. Get into the habit of reading food labels. Ask yourself- what am I worried about: my sodium levels, my cholesterol, or my sugar? Do not try and cut everything all at once. Instead take baby steps so you do not get overwhelmed. Eat small and frequent meals instead of starving yourself. Drink plenty of water as often what you perceive to be hunger could be your body’s way of indicating it is dehydrated. Exercise daily as this induces feel-good hormones that are necessary for good metabolism.

Tip #3: Watch what you eat

A rainbow colored plate is what you should aim for as it consists of a balanced diet with plenty of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Bright and naturally colored foods are rich in vitamins and minerals and one must choose green vegetables mixed with yellow, red and orange fruits or produce. Fresh blueberries, red strawberries and cherries along with other dried or fresh fruits are ideal for snacking. Avoid buying canned or processed goods. Try to include whole grains, seeds and nuts, fatty fish like salmon, and white or lean meat like chicken for proteins, essential fatty acids and amino acids. Cook your meals in healthier oils like olive or coconut oil. Reduce intake of salt by seasoning your dishes with herbs like oregano, Thyme, sage, rosemary and parsley etc.

Tip #4: Get social

People with friends or wider social circles tend to live longer and also age more gracefully. With good friends, you can share laughter, joys and sorrow and this makes you feel loved. With friends and family, you also have something to look forward to and the positive feeling can actually keep diseases at bay. Even if you feel there is no one you can connect with, you could volunteer your time for social causes to help the less privileged sections of society. When you do something for someone else that brings joy in their lives, you actually trigger feel-good hormones/endorphins in your body which keep away ill-health and depression.

Tip #5: Reduce stress

Stress is the leading cause of ill health. So reduce stress by practicing deep breathing at least twice a day. There are many forms of meditation that can also help reduce stress. These include chanting of Mantras or repeating certain words, focusing on the breath, staring at a candle or simply sitting still and observing your thoughts.

These 5 tips, if followed religiously, can definitely help you get healthy, naturally and affordably!

Heal the Divide.

With the current political climate in our country the people seem to be more divided than ever. In these times it can be difficult to find any common ground with your fellow man. Our own perceptions about life and how we see it to be sets up barriers between ourselves and others. We tend to label and separate ourselves which is the last thing we need in this most important time in our history. No matter how you perceive the world to be we all crave to be free, we all want to be loved and to love, and we all seek for a better world filled with truth and justice.

Though we may have different thoughts on what each of these things mean this is where we can find our common ground. Knowing that all people want these things is what gives hope that a better future is possibly. To know this and to respect that each person has the ability to differentiate between what is right and what is wrong is to connect with your fellow man. Though it can get messy with different perceptions on what that looks like it is important to know that people grow and change and with them so do their perceptions.

During this time of great division we are in desperate need of healing. We need to get to a better place and build a better world for future generations. There are plenty of obstacles in our way and we don’t need to create any more by throwing up barriers to keep us separated from others. We are all humans dealing with the world as it is, trying to survive and build better lives for ourselves and our families. We are all participants in the human struggle trying to find our way and make things better. For far too long we have divided and labeled ourselves leaving the world stagnant to change. Now, it is time the heal the divide.

When Life Hands You Lemons… Call a Locksmith

Starting again with another cliche… you’ll have to excuse me. I’m not great at this writing stuff, so I often turn to idioms and cliches for inspiration.

But seriously, as the saying goes, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

And not just any lemonade. You need to be really strategic about how you’re going to handle each situation. The same lemonade does not quench everyone’s thirst. Some days, you’re going to want strawberry-flavored lemonade. Other days, you’re going to want unsweetened lemonade. Or, maybe you just went on a diet, but you’re craving sweets, so you decide to make lemonade sweetened with stevia instead of sugar. Or, you’re not into making lemonade, but you can crack open a can of Minute Maid with the rest of ’em.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know that life is going to hand you lemons, and you must learn to make the best of a bad situation. Lemons are sour. Make them sweet. Make them palatable at the very least.

How do we do this? I’ll start with an example.

Last week, I lost my car keys while out and about and hand to call a car locksmith. Now, when you Google the word “locksmith,” there are a lot of options that come up. I needed one fast, so I clicked on the first site that popped up in the search results, and the guy quoted me $45 to come and unlock my car for me.

Little did I know it was a huge scam. He arrived with his tool-set, took one look at my car, and said “Oh… my. Well I know I said $45, but I’m gonna have to quote you a higher number now that I’m here, because the way your locks are built, it’s not gonna be a quick job.” I was desperate, so I said “okay.” When it was all said and done (2 hours and a damaged door later), I paid $250 to get a new set of keys and after the guy had driven away, I discovered that the new keys didn’t even work with my vehicle.

Seriously? Apparently locksmith scams are pretty common. Wish I had known that before calling the first website that popped up…

I was a little hesitant to call anyone else, but at this point, I didn’t have many other options. So I did a little more due diligence this time around and researched a few different locksmiths in my area. I ended up calling one that was located a little further away, but it was worth the wait.

He was extremely nice and licensed, and when he showed up, he repaired my door and cut me a new set of keys that worked perfectly. And it was for much less than I had paid the other locksmith.

As he worked, we conversed a bit, and he told me he had been in business for about 15 years, but that he had just recently established his new company name, Car Keys. He said he was looking to grow quite a bit and needed some help reaching his goals. I explained to him that I was a life coach and that I help business people all the time and gave him my card. We now have a consultation appointment next week to discuss his business goals and what I might be able to do for him.

So, the moral of the story is, everything happens for a reason. (Yes, I just used another cliche – get over it.) Life handed me a few lemons that day, and I could have squeezed them into the eyes of the first locksmith I called. Lord knows, that’s what I wanted to do. But instead, I took a few deep breaths, regained my composure, said a little prayer and called another guy. Not only did I get what I needed out of that situation (a new set of keys); I also made a new friend and potentially acquired a new business client for my life coaching career. Hopefully, I can help him take his new business to the next level… We shall see.

Share your stories with us! What are some examples of the “lemons” you’ve been handed in life, and what flavor lemonade did you decide to make with them?


The world is your oyster…

I hope you’ll pardon the cliche, but WordPress happened to use “Hello World” as the title of my first post, and it brought that saying to mind.

I suppose there really is no better way to preface a new website than to say “the world is your oyster.”

I’m not really sure where this blog is going to lead me or my readers, but I believe it will be in a good direction. I won’t make any detailed plans about where to go next or what to write about, as I truly believe some of the most creative, loved masterpieces were crafted with no blueprint in mind. Not having a plan leaves space for the unknown and room for the unexpected. It opens the door to more, fostering collaboration, which brings about true change.

When we all work together toward a common goal, we can achieve that goal despite our differences.

So, here I am, with a new website and a somewhat-new career as a life coach. This blog is a blank canvas and the world is my oyster. Check back soon to see what it becomes.

Until then… 🙂