For those of you who already have birth businesses, I hope you took some time to do a year-end review. Your review will point out areas for you to focus on as you create your business building plan for next year's (or this year, if you're doing this in after the new year) success. If this is your first year in business, it is the perfect time to do some planning for the new year.
When mapping out your plan for the year, here are some points to think about:
Let's Look at the Money
What is your revenue goal for next year? If you have different lines of business or sell products in addition to services, how much do you want to make for each line or product? It might be easier to think in terms of numbers of clients, students, and products. Ask yourself:
- How many births do I want to attend? Will I offer any free births?
- How many classes do I want to teach? What is the maximum number of students/couples for each class or series?
- How many e-books on [subject] do I want to sell per month?
- How many [product type]s will I sell each month?
After you set these goals, multiply each number by your rate/price and see what your projected revenue total will be for the year. If you complete a forecast like the one that is included in this Development Plan, there is also room for you to add your expected expenses for the year. Once you complete this forecast, you will see a rough estimate of your net profit for the coming year.
Do you like the numbers you see in this forecast? To tweak the numbers, think about the following:
- Are your rates in line with your competition in the area, considering your experience and level of service?
- Can you offer more in terms of services or a product to your overall packages that would increase the perceived value to potential clients?
- Can you offer an additional service to increase your income?
- To meet your revenue goals, will you need to increase your marketing expenses?
- What can you do to decrease your expenses? Can you change your internet or cell phone carrier? Is there a different printing company you can use for your business cards? Should you seek out a classroom that costs less to rent?
Your revenue goals and forecast will change as the year progresses. For now, you're creating the best case scenario for your business.
Business Building Goals
How do you want to build your business? What goals and actions will increase your exposure and client base? Think about:
- Marketing methods to implement. Will you create or improve your website? Write articles in local publications? Hold free talks about your field in your community? Improve your reach on social media?
- Relationships you want to develop. Do you want to create some partnerships with other practitioners? Do you want to attend more networking events? What's your plan?
- If your birth business is currently a part-time endeavor and you want to increase your income and the time you devote to your practice, what will you do to make that happen?
These are just a few ideas. When setting your business building goals, make sure they are SMARTER goals. You want to create an action plan, a timeline and desired results to help you determine at year-end whether you met your goals. If there are costs associated with any of your goals, make sure to account for them in your forecast.
Building Your Birth Community
This may not be high on your radar, but if you are interested in increasing your exposure as a resource to your birth community, spend some time creating some goals in this area. Think about who you can connect with and the activities you can participate in to raise your visibility in the community.
Short and Long Term Career Interests
Another area to think about and plan for is how you want to develop your career. Short-term interests will fall in the 6-12 month range, and long-term interests are 1-2 years down the road. Questions to ask include:
- Do you want to further develop your skills for your current role?
- Do you want to diversify? If you are currently a birth doula, do you want to train to become a postpartum doula or a childbirth educator? Do you want to sell products?
- What live workshops do you want to keep an eye out for?
- Are there online or correspondence courses you can take?
- What kind of continuing education classes do you want to sign up for this year?
- Is there an industry convention coming to your area, or do you want to travel to attend one in the next two years?
- What certifications are you currently working on that you want to complete? How long will it take to finish the program?
Noting down these goals will help you to plan and save for expected expenses and block out time in your calendar or plan for back-up support. You will also be able to update your income and expense forecast accordingly.
Leveraging Your Strengths and Talents
What natural strengths and talents of yours can help you grow your business and career? Write a narrative about what you do best.
- Do you enjoy public speaking?
- Do you thrive when you're around groups of people?
- Are you a really good listener?
- Does your writing touch people?
- Are you an exceptional artist?
- What compliments have you received from colleagues and past clients that can give you clues about your strengths and talents?
Think of everything you love to do and excel at. Decide how those natural skills can help enhance your business this year.
What Do You Need To Work On?
You know what I'm getting at. Consider these questions:
- What necessary business tasks do you hate to do, the ones that you wait on as long as humanly possible?
- Why do you dislike these tasks?
- Can you make a commitment to determine how to get to these tasks, or to outsource them to someone else?
- Do you want to brush up on some skills to help raise your confidence? Do you need more practice with certain doula support techniques? Could you use some help to learn how to more effectively communicate with medical staff?
- Have clients given you feedback about weaknesses that you want to improve upon?
Take an honest look at your skill set and determine what could use a tune-up. Make some goals to address them this year.
In Case You Missed It Last Time
In my previous post about the Year-End Review, I offered a free gift – a downloadable Excel workbook that includes worksheets to do a Year-in-Review for the previous year, a summary of last year's income and expenses, a Business Development Plan, and a forecast for the current year. Most of this workbook was created by Vanessa Manz, a fellow Hypnobabies Instructor. If you did not download it last time, here is another chance to get it:
Something to Remember
The most important point to remember about creating a plan is that you must return to it periodically to remind yourself about your goals, to make sure you are on track, and to redirect the course you're taking if necessary. I would highly suggest making a recurring appointment in your calendar to review your Development or other business plan at the middle and end of each month. The monthly review allows you to check in to make sure you are on track to hit your monthly goals, and the review at the end of the month allows you to evaluate how you did and create a plan for the next month.
Additional Planning Tools
Here are some planning tools that you might find helpful.
Free, printable calendar and planner forms from Productive Flourishing. Charlie Gilkey is a business advisor who simply helps people get stuff done (browse the site if you need help getting stuff done). He has offered free planner forms for several years, and if you subscribe to his newsletter, you will receive an email towards the end of each month to print the next month's forms. I like using his Monthly, Weekly and Daily Action Planners because they help me break down what needs to be done systematically from broad goals with the monthly planner, all the way down to the individual action items each day.
Savvy Doula Content and Promotion Planner. No matter what kind of business you have, visibility is everything. You need to have a plan to get your business in front of your ideal audience, through networking, social media, and email marketing. This planner can help you decide what kind of content to share and when.
Start your year off right by creating a plan for your business success. Remember to review it at least once a month (twice is better), and work diligently to meet your goals. At the end of the year, look back at all you have accomplished. Rinse and repeat. Have a great year!