Wednesday, November 30, 2011

90-Day Plan: D-3 - Organisation

After preparation, organisation is the key to a successful, active 90-day plan. Spending some time getting organised will save you time later, as well as providing you with a morale boost as you improve your 'competence confidence'.

Organisation is closely linked with determining your priorities for the next 90 days. If you've done your ten point preparation homework, you'll have a list of your five goals. Those are your key priorities. So what's next?

Your aim should be to declutter your life as far as possible - physically and mentally. Irrespective of your own mental image of who you are and what you want to become, you won't grow yourself or your business if you are dragging junk around with you.

In other words, your 90-day organisation phase should include the following:

1. Set up a dedicated email account for your business. DO NOT clutter it up with subscriptions to the latest "wonder guru" email lists. If you're subscribed to certain lists, re-evaluate their usefulness. Unsubscribe from all those you can't be bothered to read on a regular basis. Then unsubscribe from those that spam you with sales offers - you can subscribe later when you've reached your goals. Keep your final list of subscriptions down to a maximum of 5. Now change those email subscriptions to RSS feeds. That way you can look at them via your browser and declutter your inbox.

2. Use the 2 minute rule for all incoming email, post and phone conversations - including anything that crops up in your contact manager websites. Deal with it, dispose of it or decide to tackle it at a specific date and time. Your inbox/in-tray should be almost bare. Work on it until it is.

3. File receipts as soon as you get them. If you don't have a filing system, start one. File by category, such as car, petrol, order payments, invoice payments and bonuses/commission.

4. Set up a business bank account as soon as possible. If you can't manage to do that, at the very least you need to set up a separate savings account with money transfer capabilities. This helps you to separate out your personal life from your business life as far as the taxman is concerned.

5. Make sure you have immediate access to customers, team members and prospects contact details at all times. If that means using a filofax or daytimer rather than a computer-based system, then that's fine. Just make sure it goes with you at all times.

6. Set up activity tracking for all plan-related activities. Talk to your upline, or contact me for a selection of templates. If you are involved in direct sales, you should be tracking sales generation activities, quantity of orders placed, by whom, projected and actual delivery dates, order value and retail profit. If you are building up your team, you should be tracking prospect contacts, follow up calls, autoresponder subscription and unsubscription rates, amount spent on advertising, advertising source to prospect ratio, prospect signups. When coaching your team, you should be tracking their retail and recruitment activity with them, as well as tracking your coaching activity.

7. If you are running your business from your home, ensure anybody else in your household knows how to answer the phone in a professional manner. Roleplay is useful here - practice phoning until they get into receptionist mode automatically. If you can't manage that, invest in call diversion and send all phonecalls to a number you can control and access. If your company provides a voicemail facility, subscribe to it - it's worth it.

8. Invest in a whiteboard and place it somewhere prominent in the main part of the house. This will be where you and your family/co-habitees can update each other as to what's going on. Consider investing in a "family" calendar - the sort that lists daily activity by person.

9. Invest in a cashbox, so that business income can be kept securely until you can get it to your bank. Make the habit of banking your takings before you spend them.

10. Set up a system so that everybody, including family and customers, know when you are working on your business. Use your whiteboard, update your wallplanner, and decide on a routine that suits you and your customers. Then stick to it for the next 90 days.

Good luck. We'll deal with creating your plan tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

90-Day Plan: D-4 - Preparation

Before you even start implementing your first proper 90-day plan, you need to make sure that all the ground work has been covered. Otherwise, you'll be on your sixth 90-day plan by day 10. That's just wasting your time and energy.

So what ground work is there?

1. Preparation
2. Organisation
3. Planning
4. Review


From personal experience, this is the easiest step to overlook, primarily because it can encompass a wide range of activities.

Depending on your personal circumstances, preparation could involve creating a specific work environment, buying in supplies of leaflets, work clothes, stationery and other consumables, investing in business equipment (new printer, 'new' car) and, of course, warning friends and family about your diary commitments for the next 90 days.

Some organisations provide their own checklists for fledgling distributors to help them get started; your own team leaders may provide you with a preparation checklist that they find works for their business. If you have the opportunity to use tried and tested methods, then use them, at least for your first 90-day plan. You can always tweak the plan to suit yourself as you go along.

If you don't have access to a 90-day plan checklist, contact me via the comments and I'll send you the one I use. It is not tied to any specific business or network marketing company.

Essentially, your preparation should include the following:

1. Identify in generic terms what you want to achieve in the next 90 days - is it improved sales, a larger team, or both? Is it the deposit for a car, a holiday? Is it paying off debt? Write down 10 to 15 items.

2. Then write down a list of 5 specific goals that you intend to achieve within the 90 days. That means taking the initial 10 to 15 items and determining a realistic target date for each. You'll find a lot eliminate themselves at this point. If you find you have more than five goals that you feel are realistic, then prioritise and pick the first 5. You can always replace completed goals with ones from the list later. Don't pay attention to hype at this point, you want to set realistic goals so that when you achieve them, you build your confidence for the next 90 day plan.

3. Write down how you will achieve those 5 goals. For example, if a goal is "To save £300 per month", then how you achieve that may be "To sell £1600 of products", or "To recruit and train 5 new team members", or "To stop spending £100 at Starbucks every month, sell £800 of products and recruit 1 new team member and train them to sell £800 of products." Only you can determine how to reach your goals.

4. Collate all know diary events for yourself and your family for the next 90 days. You'll need to know what blocks of time are available to you. Include everything you can think of, including "together time", gardening, shopping, nights out, school sports days and teacher meetings. Don't plan anything yet.

5. Check that you have everything you need for the first 28 days of your 90-day plan. That includes a designated space to work (even if it's the dining table), leaflets/flyers, samples, catalogues, opportunity brochures/dvds, pens, stamps, diaries, wallplanners, paper, ink cartridges, work clothes, money to cover petrol costs, postage, etc.

6. Identify any gaps/omissions in what you need and identify when/how you will address those gaps.

7. Take a realistic look at yourself and identify any issues that may stop you from achieving your goals in the next 90 days. Do you lose enthusiasm quickly? Do you have a PhD in procrastination? Do you promise things and then not deliver? Are you disorganised?

8. Decide what you are going to do to prevent those issues. If you are competitive, then creating a set of small, weekly targets that gain you rewards may be a great solution. If you prefer doing things at your own pace and finishing one thing before you move onto the next, rewarding yourself for a small task that's well done may inspire you. Bear in mind that you are the master of your fate; nobody else is.

9. Write down your baseline results so far. Break those results down into weekly, monthly and quarterly if you've been in business for long enough. If you've only just started - great! If your figures are 0, 0 and 0, you can only improve from now on.

10. Tell your family that you are committing yourself to a 90-day plan of activity and discuss the effects with them so they know what to expect.

Once you've completed your preparation checklist, you're ready for the next step - getting organised.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get the 90 Day Habit

Image © Gualtiero Boffi
Everybody who runs a business understands the need to plan ahead. Everybody who joins a network marketing company gets told that you can't succeed without a 90 day plan. So why are there so few coherent, full explanations of what a 90 day plan is, what it entails and what it's like to follow one?

Google for '90 day plan' and there's loads of generics, a lot of waffle and a lot of incomprehensible text that should have caveat emptor watermarked through it. Finding the gold in the dross is difficult, although there are some good articles, such as Michael Hyatt's, which do encourage us to step up and be accountable.

So, as I firmly believe in personal responsibility and accountability, I will be dual-blogging for the next 94 days on both the mechanics of 90-day plans and my personal experiences of implementing them.

Why 94 days rather than 90? Because I want to show the prior preparation and planning that goes into the creation of a 90-day plan.

This is likely to be an interesting project. I'm hoping the extra exposure will force me to up my game enough to quit the day job in a year's time. Here we go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Am NOT One Of The 99 Percent

Image © Sebastian Kaulitski

I'm not one of the 1% either.

I'm also not surprised that a number of commentators are getting more than a little fed up with those who claim they speak for the rest of us, whilst wasting everybody's time on vague statements that seem to demand that "somebody does something, so long as it isn't us."

When I've been unemployed, I've found work. I've struggled to pay bills, worked more than one job at a time when necessary and focused on improving myself and my employment prospects until I either hit that promotion ceiling or got made redundant again.

Despite being qualifed to degree level in three separate disciplines, I've still worked as a cleaner, a carer, a postman and a checkout assistant. I take responsibility for my life and I'm no different from others. I know of people who have slept rough until they've scraped the money together to get a room; who've done 3 jobs a day to pay off mortgages early. They haven't demanded support or refused to pay taxes - they got on with living.

Camping in tents isn't going to change things. Banding together with enough like-minded people will, but there's more influence in cyber-campaigning groups such as Avaaz than you'll find on any of the Occupy sites.

I'd rather put time and effort into something like Branson's Screw Business As Usual, than join a protest where the majority of fellow campers appear to have no idea what it's like to live in the real world.

We live in a rapidly changing world. We need to adapt to survive. If we want to change corporate behaviour, it's better to effect that change in a way where everybody benefits. If the current variety of capitalism doesn't work, replacing it with compassionate capitalism is still better than a system where nobody is able to excel.