Ep. 77 The Most Important Questions To Ask During Your Business Planning

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Today I want to talk to you about the most important questions that you can ask yourself when you’re in the midst of planning for your business. Last week I released a strategic planning spreadsheet. Those of you guys who follow me know that I love spreadsheets.

And I decided to release this free to all my followers because I saw the power of it when I was doing my mastermind a couple of weeks ago. And I know that this is an incredibly important part of the planning process in business, and to be honest the spreadsheet is incredibly underwhelming. A lot of people who know some of my spreadsheets, they have you know conditional formatting and formulas and all this kind of fun stuff. This one is very, very elementary.

However the questions that are asked when you go through this spreadsheet really make a huge difference. And, a little story, I developed this kind of by accident. I was flying last year and trying to sort through a bunch of really confusing questions that Cathy and I had about where we were going to go next in our business, this was in early 2019. And I built this spreadsheet to cut through the noise because I felt confused. And I needed to get really, really clear. And that spreadsheet actually became the base of all of our planning for an entire year. We used that one sheet, we worked off that one sheet for an entire year, brought the business to a million dollars in sales.

And when I was preparing for my mastermind a couple of weeks ago, I went back to that sheet and I was like, “gosh this thing is a beast. This really helped.” And so over the mastermind week I went through it with my insiders and now they have the sheet and so I asked them to go ahead and fill it out and then we use it to discuss ideas and stuff off Voxer. And I just decided, you know what, this is an incredibly valuable thing that the market needs and I’m just going to go ahead and give it away.

So that’s what I did last week and lots of you have already used it and just said it was amazing. But without going into all of it, if you are interested you can go to my blog at JulieStoian.com, you can read, you can grab the spreadsheet, you can watch the little video tutorial that I show you how to use it. But what I want to do today is talk specifically about the question, the thinking process behind it and why it’s so important. And I’m hopefully going to take you through an example on the podcast today that you can use in your business for how you get really, really clear on what you should do next. And how to make sure that your offers and your content really aligns with where you’re trying to go.

So every person in a business in a business has two types of people following them, prospects and customers. Prospects are the larger bucket for any business, and these are the people who have not purchased anything from you yet. They may be on your email list, they may be following you on Instagram or Facebook, but they haven’t taken that big commitment step to handing you money in exchange for goods. Customers are different, customers have done that. So they are in a different category. And in every business you’re going to have about 95% of your following as prospects, and about 5% of your following as customers.

And it’s funny, we oftentimes forget about our prospects, or we’re super focused on our customers, you know, we forget that they’re two separate buckets. Now these people may struggle with the same things, it’s very common that both prospects and customers have similar struggles and they need similar solutions. But by separating them out you can kind of see where free content versus paid content makes sense.

So what I want to do is pull one of the questions from the spreadsheet just to go through an example now. When you’re trying to figure out what to do next in your business, ask yourself the question, finish this sentence, “Our prospects struggle with…” and then answer the question.

So I’m going to pretend that I am a done-for-you service agent because I think a lot of people wonder how agencies could use this model and they totally can. I’m going to pretend I’m a done-for-you service agency and I help people market and sell their books. I don’t teach people how to write a book. Maybe I offer publishing services, but my real zone of genius is helping people market and do book campaigns and things like that.

Alright, so our prospects struggle with…and I’m going to say, well, they struggle with a lot of things. They struggle with writing their book and finishing their book. There are some people following me that are still in the middle of writing it. Or they struggle with publishing it, all of the nuts and bolts of publishing. And then they of course, struggle with marketing.

Now the prospects that struggle with marketing their book , they are prime to buy. What do they need? They need marketing services. Okay, great. Do I solve this need? Hell yes I do, I solve it. Okay, so how? I solve it with my done-for-you package. Okay so that’s very simple and easy.

But now we kind of get to a little bit more unclear. My prospect struggles with writing their book, or finishing their book. What do they need? Well, they need help finishing their book. And it may feel like literal to do this exercise, but it’s so important. So then you ask yourself, “Well, does my business solve that need?” Now, the answer is no. I don’t help people write their book.

Now, if I wanted to, I could just be done there and be like, “Okay, I don’t solve that need. Fine.” But here’s where the thinking process is so important. If I don’t solve that need, logically speaking, is it possible that there are prospects who are following me, who will never get to the point in the journey where they could even hire me for services because their book never got written? And the answer is unfortunately yes. So is it in my best interest to solve this need? Yes it is, because the more people that have books finished, the more they will need marketing services, the larger my market gets.

So a lot of you might be like, “Well, you don’t want to necessarily just expand your agency to do something that you don’t want to do.” And I agree. You don’t want to just be all things to all people, right. Because that’s annoying and it’s a great way to burn out and break your systems.

So the solution here for a prospect is not necessarily to be like, “Okay, well my agencies going to open up an entire book writing arm of it’s services just to get these books written.” Because yeah, you could do that, but does it solve the need for the prospect? They have to become a customer in order to do that right? Okay, so I don’t want to do that. But if I answer the question, yes, I solved this need, but I solved it thinking outside the box. What if you had a weekly show where you interviewed a ghost writer or a writing coach or someone who would give people tips for finishing their book? Or what if you wrote a really awesome blog post that would have all kinds of resources for finishing a book? Or what if you created a little referral service to refer people to writing coaches? What kind of free content could you create that would solve the need for the prospect, even if they stayed a prospect? They don’t have to buy anything from you, what would that do?

That would sew incredibly good karma, it would create value in the marketplace, it would help them solve this problem, which is in your best interest because if you do solve the problem, then their book gets finished and then they need you, then they need your services.

And so at first glance, you might have said, ‘No, we don’t solve this problem.” But the question, the most important question to ask yourself is, “But is it in our best interest that our prospects have this problem solved?” and the answer in this case was yes.

Okay, so it’s, maybe you will go through this exercise and you’ll be like, ‘My prospects all have books finished.” Okay, great. So then that means that you don’t have to worry about people who are kind of like, you know, in the middle of book writing because none of the people who follow you are in that spot. If you’re like, ‘No, our prospects struggle with publishing their book, and the manuscript is written.” Then that’s where you begin. But this is really important to figure out who is following you and where they’re at in their journey, and asking yourself if you solve this need.

When you answer these questions for prospects, if the answer is yes, you do solve the need, but you solve it with a paid product, then they you just have to notate that your prospect in that moment, has to become a customer in order for you to solve that need, and that’s fine. But there also should be content that’s out there where the prospect can get the problem solved without becoming a customer because that’s what creates that loyalty and that momentum. So just keep that in mind.

Then you go on to your customers, right. And you want to look at your customers because your customers may struggle with things even after they become a customer. So we have customers that buy our Funnel Gorgeous templates and they love them, but they can’t seem to figure out how to make sales. So our customers struggle with marketing strategy around the templates they purchased. What do they need? Marketing strategy around the templates they purchased. Do we solve this need? Yes. How so? And the answer was, for us, it was Launch Gorgeous. We actually walk them through the entire process of how to get an offer off the ground, put it in a template, launch it, and sell it.

So that is an example. Now you could also come up with like, “Our customers struggle with something and we don’t want to solve that need.” And we figured that out when people who bought our templates wanted us to do tech support on all funnel platforms. And we were just like, ‘No, we can’t do that.” You know, they need tech support on the platform, do we solve this need? The answer is no. No, we do not solve this need. So what does that mean?

It means that okay, but if that’s the case, if they don’t like, let’s say Clickfunnels for example, or Kartra, or wherever they are, does it mean they won’t be our customer anymore? Because they haven’t learned the platform. The answer is they most likely will still be a customer because they will just find a platform they like. And as long as we support that platform with templates in that platform, or assets, they will still be our customer. So it’s really not, necessarily, even in our best interest to become tech support for everybody. And this is a very good clarifying point because we needed to understand, “Okay, where do we draw the line between troubleshooting Clickfunnels or Kartra?” versus saying, “Hey, we just sell the templates, and we’ll show you how to modify the templates, but we’re not going to teach you how to use the entire funnel software.”

These questions are so incredibly important. So I would encourage you to grab that spreadsheet, it makes such a difference when you start your sentence with our customer or prospect struggles with…. And then answer it. Because it just creates a tremendous amount of clarity. And it’s important to be as specific as possible because what you’ll notice as you do this, is that you’re going to come up with offer ideas, free content ideas, possibly business relationship ideas, offers like economy offers, which means like maybe your business doesn’t do it, but maybe there would be another type of business that sprouts because of the demand. And from there you can then go on and do all kinds of projects, probably for a year. It took us a year to go through our spreadsheet. We’re now building a second one.

So I hope that is helpful. I hope it gets you thinking about how important questions are. And as always, appreciate you all. Talk soon.