How to Create a Business Blueprint

Businesses, like buildings, require a blueprint or a design plan. Could you just start building and putting up walls? Sure, you can start enthusiastically and creatively, but there will come a point where parts aren’t coming together as they should and your efforts begin to feel unproductive, confused or even wasted.

Entrepreneurs begin businesses in many ways based on their personalities and belief systems. Some need detailed, well researched plans. Others jump in, get clients and are rolling before they’ve even decided what business they choose to be in. Then there is everyone in between.

For some, planning dampens their enthusiasm, for others, it’s an absolute necessity. Regardless, the planning process itself is a great exercise, pushing the business owner to develop clarity and goals in key areas.

Where it gets interesting in my opinion, is after the plan is finished. How is it used? Is it used at all? Does it prove to be a guiding light or a rigid limiter?

For one to adhere to very detailed plans, the business owner, the organization and the plan have to be well aligned. The plan should be reviewed and revised regularly, quarterly or monthly, so that congruency remains intact.

For the non-planner types, a business blueprint provides vision, structure and general form. It’s a useful framework, providing structure, direction and purpose, while leaving plenty of room to shift and create over time.

Here are some key components of a business blueprint that can serve as the foundation for your developing business:

1. Your Vision – There is something you envision when you go into business. Capture that vision on paper. Why are you driven to be in business at all? Who do you serve and how? At its future best, what does it all look like as it plays out?

Specificity in your vision is key. This is the “down the road” snapshot that you hold in your mind as the prize. The plan is designed to help you reach this vision, so the clearer the vision, the more helpful the plan.

2. The Why – Document and regularly remind yourself of why this vision matters to you. Your “big why” is any reason you have that is meaningful enough to drive you through challenges and difficult times. Identify your most significant reasons for being in business and remind yourself of why you are willing to do what it takes to recommit each day.

3. Unique Brilliance – Your unique brilliance is that special life force that you bring to your business that makes it authentically you and gives it power. If you examine what you have always loved (from childhood), attach words or qualities to it, you have something truly special that brands and differentiates your business because of the qualities you bring.

Your brilliance isn’t a technique or skill, it’s a talent that emanates from you and permeates your work. For example, a unique brilliance statement might be: “I spark innovation.” Keep it simple yet powerful. Think of Walt Disney. I believe his childlike imagination was his unique brilliance, and look how that played out.

4. A Stand – What is an overarching principle of your business? Are you taking a stand for something in your business that transcends the products and services? State what you stand for that is expressed through your business. For example, “I am a stand for people communicating effectively to make the world a more harmonious place.”

5. Expertise – What are you an expert at? This is still aimed at the business owner, but is more related to the work he/she is doing. What expertise do you have (and should your team have) that will drive the business forward. An example might be, “I am an expert at making people beautiful.” This expertise will be used in the business and in the branding.

6. Brand Values – Identify the brand promise you are making to the market you serve. This is the promise of an experience they can expect to have when working with you regardless of the product or service. What values are necessary to provide that consistent experience? As an example, consider Four Seasons Hotels and the experience you have there whether you stay in a suite or just have dinner in the bar.

7. Target Niche – Who specifically is your ideal customer? Choose as narrow a niche as you can so your marketing can be very targeted and specific. This is not intended to turn people away, but to give you as clear a picture as you can get of the client or customer who is best served by what you have to offer and your expertise. These are the people you need to speak to in your messaging as they will be most willing to engage.

8. Products/Services – Define and describe exactly what you are offering to your niche audience. What products or service does your business provide and why? What is the intention for each one? What results should customers expect from what you offer? What differentiates your products and services from similar ones on the market?

9. Marketing and Sales – Provide details of how you will market your products and services and what your sales process will look like. Regular attention should be paid to the optimal ways of reaching your audience and turning them into paying customers. Identify mechanisms for tracking what works and what doesn’t. Great communication and consistent branding is key here.

10. Delivery System – How will customers receive the products or services being offered? From beginning to end, there is benefit to designing and implementing good systems for efficient and high quality product/service delivery. Consider detailing this out for every category of service or product.

11. Operations – What are the front and back office activities that make the organization work seamlessly and efficiently? Who are the players? There is a flow of production, communication, information, transaction, and follow up that happens in every business. Design the best operational systems for each area of your business and document the desired flow and the team necessary to make it work.

12. Pricing – Identify pricing structures for your goods and services that cover costs and provide reasonable profit margins. This requires that you do your research into the cost structure of your business in all areas, as well as gaining an understanding of the range of comparable pricing in the marketplace.

13. Financial Goals/Tracking – Every business must have financial goals to strive for and ways of tracking key financial targets. Identify five to ten key revenue drivers and set up tracking and reporting mechanisms to see where you are headed and if your strategies are yielding results.

14. Personnel/Team – Whatever your current size, plan how your organizational chart will look when you reach your goals. In your future vision, how many people are working in the organization and in what capacities? Assign a value to your time as the business owner. If you can hire someone for less than the value of your time, you want to work to that end. Continue that analysis throughout the organization. Prioritize future hires, and plan how delegation can take the business to new levels of growth.

A plan, written in this manner, will automatically combine critical mindset pieces with more practical business strategies. This gives you a solid foundation from which to ramp up. It’s your best shot at building a solid, sustainable business. At that point, you will be rewarded with the opportunity to add those creative details not shown on the blueprint.

Michelle is the CEO and founder of Limit Free LifeĀ®, a coaching and personal development company designed to help clients discover and transition into careers or business ventures that satisfy their souls. As a former CPA, business consultant and now a certified business coach, she combines a strong background in finance and transition management with an intuitive coaching style.

Building and Understanding Trust

A few days back I spoke with a new client named Brad, a successful and old-fashioned sales management professional from Texas. He informed me that after 8+ years of periodically selling cattle someone recently wrote him a bad check for the first time. He later found out the ethically challenged individual is now gone in the wind, resulting in Brad losing $800. This led to an interesting discussion about trust.

Toward the end of our conversation he scoffed at my suggestion to invoice people through a 3rd party that can safeguard the transaction for a small fee. He simply told me, “That’s not a very good way to build a relationship John. How many people like to hear that you don’t trust them?”

I felt kind of guilty at that point because I had invoiced him the day before, and the amount of the invoice wasn’t significant.

A while back my father suggested that I read three management books. The key lesson in each of them is that without trust you can’t build an effective team. Teamwork and developing a manageable corporate structure aside, the same lesson applies to working with customers or clients. You need trust to build a sustainable business relationship. When companies say they are “the largest producer” or that they “partner with their customers” they are really trying to signal that they are trustworthy.

Building A Relationship

Marketers build an integrated marketing communication plan to make sure all of the information being disseminated to a target market reinforces one uniform branding message. People should think about trust the same way. The way you approach someone with a proposal, verbal or written communications, administration of financial transactions, information transparency, and basically all aspects of interacting with another party will impact your business’ trustworthiness and/or personal relationship with them.

Brad thinks sending an invoice offering transaction protection implies that you don’t trust someone. I think invoicing seems like a pretty neutral means of administrating transactions. My method of operation is to send invoices, but I will pay 1-2% of the transaction value essentially outsourcing trust from my new client to a 3rd party. Asking Brad how he’d like to handle payment could have potentially saved me that 1-2%, and extended trust to Brad creating a stronger relationship.

Brad might have preferred to trust that 3rd party as well, but extending the offer to let him choose couldn’t have hurt our relationship.

Understanding Your Actions

There are instances where utilizing 3rd parties or technology for security, engaging in limited micromanagement of an employee, or bringing in a management consultant to solve a problem can make sense. Unfortunately what you are essentially doing is outsourcing trust. As logical as it might seem to you, some people will interpret these actions as you displaying a lack of faith in them or their abilities.

Understanding social dynamics and being able to foresee unintended outcomes of seemingly harmless activities is a necessary skill in building trust. Take a long look at your recent decisions, policies, or procedures; what message are you sending?

Compelling Features To Include in A Beauty Salon App To Garner The Most Benefits

Needless to say, people are always being too much aware of their outer look, hairstyle and overall appearance. Visiting salons or hair parlours are always one activity among the daily chores for everyone in this image-conscious world. “If looks did not matter, then parlours would not have been so much crowded.” This thought absolutely stands true and so, salon or parlour businesses were never been a downtrend profession. On the contrary, this particular sector has always been experiencing incessant growth and triggering much revenue for the economy. One reason that can be accredited for the remarkable development of salon, beauty spas or grooming industry is mobile apps that made a lot of beauty care services available on demand.

If any appreneur is ever thinking of harnessing this new class of apps, it is vital for them to know the following features that such an app should have to reap maximum ROI.

Detailed List of the Services that the Parlour provides

No modern parlours are just confined to hair cutting or minimal beauty treatment services. Instead, they offer an array of services from hair dying, hair spa, manicure, pedicure, body waxing, head massages, and so forth. Thus, they need to list all the services category wise in the app with their service charges. This makes it convenient for customers to pick their required service.

Booking of a Schedule at a single click

Visiting a parlour or salon now is similar to that of visiting a doctor or advocate where one needs a prior appointment. Apps are helping customers with their inbuilt calendar to schedule an appointment in advance at a convenient time. They can just arrive in the scheduled time slot and avail the services they want. While salons/parlours are most crowded during holidays, weekends or on mornings, with pre-booking option, none have to wait for their turn after visiting the salon.

Image library of the beauty treatment services

Only listing of services along with the prices is not enough to assure that people will always pick a service. Parlour apps thus need to keep a separate photo library, displaying some ongoing beauty care, makeup results, haircut or facial outcomes, store interiors, equipment or items used in beauty treatments. An impressive image gallery will showcase their premium grooming services to customers and lure them to book their slot.

Push notifications

This feature is imperative to keep users updated with new services inclusion, seasonal offers, or just to remind them of the services that had availed a month back and might need it again. Apps can integrate the geo-fencing or GPS technology to send notifications to customers who are in location proximity to the store.

Booking history and reordering option

There are many parlour services that people need on a frequent basis like shaving, waxing, hair-cuts. The apps must let the registered users view their booking history anytime and avail a similar service again with repeat booking.

On-demand services at the doorstep `

On-demand services are capturing the most market in apps world. There are a lot of apps for travelling, food delivery, babysitting, event planning, tailoring, laundry, etc. that are providing services right at the doorstep of customers. Thus, missing out this feature in a beauty salon app can lose out an ample number of customers.

Mobile payments

In-app payments with electronic cards or e-wallets must be an innate feature in the beauty salon applications. Customers can easily pay through the app’s own payment gateway like PayPal or Stripe at their convenience and hence do not have to bear the hassles of carrying hard cash whenever they visit a parlour.

Leveraging a beauty salon app is sure to make lives easy for customers and increase the income for parlour businesses by manifold. However, they have to make sure to incorporate all these features to reap all the anticipated benefits.