Most phone calls I receive from clients have the same tone. They will say, "I need help with taking my business to the next level". As we continue the conversation I always hear them say, I know how to operate my business but it's tough trying to grow and maintain the current operation; there are only so many hours in the day. I have a friend that always says sometimes the hardest questions have the simplest answers.
Case in point:
I am passionate about helping businesses to succeed in their chosen area of expertise but my real personal passion is entertaining. I take pride in preparing for guests coming for dinner. Most of the time it is very casual but I do enjoy the formal sit down dinners with great conversation. These dinners take well orchestrated planning of the fine details from who to invited, where everyone should sit, what type of china to use, what type of food to serve (check on food allergies) and the list goes on and on.
Once I was in a conversation with a colleague attending one of my dinner parties who said to me, "when you plan dinner parties you put as much energy into them as you do a project for clients." I never really thought about it but when I put it in perspective my colleague was correct.
I use the same steps to develop a business plan as I do a well planned dinner party. Thinking of the steps in terms of my passion helped me with communicating to the client that was hitting a wall. I then changed my entire conversation with all of my clients from trying to address the problem to trying to find their passion. Once we find their true passion then we can parallel the problem solving steps to find the solution.
The Planning/Problem Solving steps are consistent but the activities change depending on the purpose or goal as seen here.
Determine the goal
(Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time sensitive)
The purpose of the dinner party is to have four (4) couples for a formal yet fun and exciting dinner with 4 star wine, surf and turf, current events conversation on Saturday night at 7pm.
The goal of the project is to improve productivity by 10% and revenue by 20% by the end of 2012.
Build the team
Select the guests that will “add value” to your party by their presence.
The Smith’s – College friends
The Carlisle’s – Neighbors
The Tall’s – My Colleagues
The Worth’s – Spouses Colleagues
Select the team members that will add value to the project to reach the goal.
Bill – Finance
Jack – Engineering
Isabella – Legal
Dana – Operations
Send meeting request
Invitations are hand written and mailed to the guests
Meeting request sent through email
Plan the meeting outcome
Preparation for the event
Start time/sequence for food
Guests arrival time
Conversation topics (potentially)
Research subject before hand
Find articles to share with team
Plan the Agenda
Prepare an overview of the Project
Plan Brain Storming of Solutions
Determine plan process
Place settings with plate, glasses, silverware, stemware
Notepad, pencils, highlighters, calculators, iPads, Projectors, Chalk board
Determine a line item budget
Allocate cost associated with food, beverages, set up, clean up, invitations, etc.
Labor, materials, supplies, marketing, sales, legal, finance, operations, etc.
Determine roles and responsibilities
Greeter, Coat taker, Hostess, head of the table, seating assignments
Timekeeper, note taker, facilitator
Clear sequence of events
Second Course and so on
Step 1 with responsible person and deadline, Step 2 with responsible person and deadline, Step 3 and so on
Phase completion indicators
Hostess acknowledge or most plates complete
Last guest leave
All items are completed
Guest comments, budget variances, goal accomplished, results obtained
Survey, budget variances, goal accomplished, results obtained
Make adjustments for next event based on noted feedback
Make adjustments for next project based on survey results
Planning a large scale project that is expected to yield phenomenal results or an amazing dinner party that people will talk about forever takes a well thought out plan, attention to details and commitment to make sure the results are obtained. Underestimating the time commitment can be your worst enemy. I realized that my colleague was saying the best project planner is committed to the outcome and passionate about delivering a quality product regardless of the time investment.
Now I spend more time helping my clients find their passion. It's a simple solution: in your passion is the solution to your problem because as Jerry Gillies author of Money Love says, "you will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need".
When in doubt of your ability to navigate business solutions, solicit the help of a professional. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.