We feel pretty strongly that a business plan can help you to define your business goals and give you a road-map for the future of your company. But, what makes a company that has used a business plan different from others? How has a business plan made the difference for that business?
Kelly Marie Uss, owner of Fleur Inc. in Chicago, shares how having a business plan has improved her business. We often tell business owners that a business plan acts as a goal-setting guide for all businesses – not just start-ups. Kelly Marie joined us for The Simple Plan in NYC in 2011 after being in business for 9 years. And, attended again in Chicago this past February. We have found that business owners that use the plan as an active tool for goal-setting and strategy see the most improvement in their businesses. Kelly Marie shares this with us…
10 years ago…
Ten years ago I decided to open a flower shop. Outside of knowing floral design, this was a complete shot in the dark. At twenty-three, most of my business decisions were based on trial and error. Running both a boutique storefront and design studio, decisions when it came to hiring and margins in the slow months often seemed daunting. Choosing where to advertise and how much to spend was always a mystery. Figuring how many hours were spent on one client seemed like a black hole. I truly wish Sage Wedding Pros (SWP) had been around back then!
Today, a stronger structure and focus…
Since attending Sage Wedding Pros’ The Simple Plan workshop, Fleur Inc has a much stronger structure and focus. The business has consistently moved in a positive direction because of clarity when making decisions for advertising, margins and staff communication. The simplicity of just a mission statement has defined for staff what we are about, how to interact with clients and is a reminder of why we work so hard to do what we love. Staff now has defined roles with priority lists, and we work together calling ourselves a family. Using one another’s strengths, we work productively, filling in when someone has a question. Defining the difference between designing and customer service between boutique and storefront clients has helped create a very positive work flow and respect among staff. Hiring is based on skills and we can now be more choosey when finding the next employee. Being that we are all human, there must always be some room for error. We leave room for this, however with this clearer structure our error has consistently decreased. Finding the right team is one of the most difficult parts of a work environment, and these improvements have turned stressful wedding days into well-organized, fun afternoons.
These days our margins are much higher. After taking a closer look at our spending, we’ve channeled our expenses into ways to help us make more money rather than simply getting by. It has helped us to recognize when and where to advertise, how to choose the donation of time versus product and when it okay to just say no. Also, it has helped put a much more clear value on our product and services. I can’t even tell you how invigorating it was the first time I could, without pause, give a client a clear explanation of our pricing. Stating why we value ourselves has only gained more respect from our customers.
Using the Business Plan in Daily Life
My business plan workbook from SWP is kept on my desk. I continually go back to it for inspiration, focus and to add new notes. It has helped to define Fleur and what I want it to be from both my view and anyone who walks in. Rather than trying to do it all, Fleur now has a better focus and niche. We can happily and proudly stand behind our design and aesthetic, work effectively and productively, and have fun while doing so. We now have a new outlook on time management and I can actually take a vacation knowing and trusting staff to keep everything running in tip-top shape (!). Staff loves knowing that they are trusted, as well as enjoy taking on a task that yields importance and esteem.
In addition to making Fleur Inc a stronger business, I am using the SWP business plan model to plan for my next business endeavor. The excitement grows every day as I confidently make decisions based on fact rather than just inspiration. Thank you SO much, Michelle and Kelly for helping Fleur bloom in so many ways!
Thanks Kelly Marie!
If you want to learn more about The Simple Plan and The Simple Plan Exclusive, visit The Simple Plan website.