105. Do This To Get Better At Planning

Friday, September 22, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/105. Do This To Get Better At Planning

105. Do This To Get Better At Planning


What is the secret to becoming better at planning?

Believe it or not, there is no magic tool that will make your plans better. All the tools are helpful for us to communicate our plan, but they won’t help you make better plans.

In fact, new tools may actually hurt your ability to plan complex projects.

Discover the one secret to planning that will remove obstacles and allow you to function at your highest level today!

Learn more at https://www.adamliette.com

Discover how to work with me: https://www.adamliette.com/work-with-me

The Greatest Opportunity Of A Lifetime

20 Business Owners Lives' Will Change in 2024

​​... And I'm Personally Inviting You To Be One Of Them!

The Greatest Opportunity Of A Lifetime...

20 Business Owners Lives Will Change In 2024...
​...And I’m Personally Inviting You To Be One Of Them!


What's going on smooth operators, thank you so much for joining me on this episode, I'm really excited about recording this. And the genesis for this episode came with the discussion I was having with a contractor the other day. And it all it was marketing strategy that I was uncovering. But it led me to really think about the number of businesses I've worked with the number of things that I've seen, the number of people I've helped in how I've tried to build my own business. So I want to focus on strong foundations. So the foundations of your business, you can build it anytime you can build it as a solopreneur. From day one, in your business, these are the things that you need to really be concentrating on, so that you can grow.

So I want to circle back to a story where a couple years ago, I was converting this old old pole barn in my backyard, if you don't know what a pole barn is, is basically poles that are buried into the ground. And that's what the barn is built upon. It's these poles that are just buried and buried about four to six feet deep. And that's all the foundation that building has is just these poles. thing was when we looked at the building, and we started imagining what we could do with this building, the the vision was that it was going to be my office, it was going to be a workshop where we could do construction projects, and woodworking projects. And overall just a really solid building for us. The downside was, it's also in a floodplain. So it's subject to sometimes seasonal flooding.

And you could tell when you looked in the building, there was water damage all over the place. And so I met with about five or six different contractors to discuss the construction project that I wanted to do, because I had this vision, and I just needed to figure out how to do it. And about five of them gave me they gave me answers. They said you can do this, you can do that. We could firm up the foundation this way or that way. And then one, the sixth contractor came in and said, tell you to truth brother, we kind of got to tear it down and start new, this foundation is not going to be feasible long term. We could do this, we could do that we could do this.

But that's just beating around the bush. And it's not building a proper foundation that's going to last. So here's what I do. And he gave me his proposal, which involves tearing down the whole building, digging a proper foundation, a proper footer, which if you're not in construction, so it's a it's concrete that's very below the frost line. And then rebuilding the entire building from the ground up.

And he was significantly more than the other contractors, like five figures more. And I hired him. Because he was the one contractor who told me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear said we are we can do this, we can do that. None of those things are going to stand the test of time, we're going to be back having this conversation in five to 10 years, except now you're going to have a finished building on top of a shady foundation.

So is that what you really want? I heard him and I did the hard work of rebuilding the entire foundation of this building. And I think about this and I think about business in the same way. When we build our business on top of shady foundations, we're setting ourselves up for long term pain, of having to redo things of having to circle around and re rebuild entire sections of the company. Because we've built it on shoddy foundations.

And around the same time I was having a conversation with someone who's very much in the solopreneur phase. They're just getting started and they said Well, Adam, I see what you do for bigger companies. What can you tell me and I went down this rabbit hole of talking about the foundational things you can build right now. So I just wanted to have that conversation with you today on What we're talking about with business foundations.

And what we can build right now, whether you're a solopreneur, whether you have a two or three or four person team, really take a moment just to look at what you currently have, what you currently have in play, and whether or not you're thinking through what you should be taking just a little bit of your time to build the foundations now, which will allow your company to grow on top of these foundations.

So yeah, a lot of you know, a lot of discussions back to construction. But we all know, like, if you've never been involved in construction, you know that. Without a foundation, it doesn't matter what's on top, the house will eventually collapse, the building will collapse. If we don't have the footer, if we don't have the concrete work, put underneath the building.

You know, any building that collapses, we'll see news stories of it. It's because it wasn't built properly in the first couple days of that construction project. Alright, so what does this mean for us in business? Like what am I talking about with foundations. So, first off, I just have a couple listed here. Let's go through these one at a time. First off, you need to have strong SOPs, you need to have ways that you're doing things.

And SOP does not have to be over and over thought, as I've talked about previously, an SOP can be as simple as a Screenflow or Camtasia video or loom video for that matter of you walking through a process and talking through the methods that you use to do things. And it should be first stuff that simple and complex. Something as simple as how to publish a podcast episode or how to, you know, publish to Facebook needs to be documented in an SOP. And these are one and done usually that sometimes you have to come back and revisit it. But if you have these SOPs, you now have the foundational building blocks to offload it.

That video walkthrough, I then like to take those SOPs and build that into workflows and processes. If you're not using a project management software at this point, I highly recommend that you do. And it doesn't have to be complex, it doesn't have to be super robust, you can use the free plans. In most of these cases. Like I you all know, I'm an Asana aficionado, and you know and partner with Asana.

I recommend Asana to everyone I work with just because it's the system I know best is it better than any of the other ones. You know, they're all kind of the same in many regards. So it's a matter of personal preference, but build out your workflows. So you take that SOP, and build out into a step by step checklist. Even if it's just you doing the process for now, having it documented in there means you had the foundational step to offload because it's already built. So having these workflows and processes in your project management software, from the very beginning, will definitely pay off in the long run.

Another aspect to foundations is your communication modalities, what communication structures are you using within the team?

And what do you see as the future? So if you even if you're just one hire just one.

What are you doing to communicate? Do you have slack? Do you have SMS? Do you have you know communication within your project management software? What are your communication modalities? And how are you doing this? You need to take the time just to think of how you prefer to have communication sent to you. And is that sustainable? So if you hire someone off Upwork Are you just using the Upwork messaging system? Are you using WhatsApp? What are you using? And is that something that will grow with you?

In many cases, you know, if you're just communicating with one person, it's sustainable for one, but is it sustainable for many?

If it's not sustainable for many, for example, WhatsApp try to move away from that as soon as possible and move in to manage systems like Slack like project management, like even in Google Docs.

You know, just documenting this and having a way of communicating from the outset will definitely pay off off when you start reaching that three to five to 10, team members and everything gets messy.

One thing that isn't always discussed at this level of growth when you're solopreneur, or just really starting to build your team is financials. So that's another, the foundations. Number four. How are you documenting your financials? How are you? Are you doing a p&l? Profit and Loss Statement? Are you actually working to document what's going on? And are you profitable, on a month to month, quarter to quarter basis.

If you're not, it's not going to get easier as the numbers get bigger. You know, part of one of the challenges that we face as entrepreneurs is documenting this and having to be honest with ourselves and see that number on a month to month basis, especially if it's not good. which let's be honest, when you're just starting out, it's not always a good number to see.

But just like everything else, when we start from the beginning, and documenting the things that matter, our revenue, our fixed expenses, our flexible expenses, you start documenting from day one and putting it into a spreadsheet that's rolling.

Now you're able to see that growth over time and able to actually measure what you can do company wise, can you hire someone? Do you have growth?

Do you have all these things in place, you actually need to grow. So I recommend, and I do have a master spreadsheet that I give to all of my students. That covers everything you can imagine in many of these areas, when you start will not be relevant. Even if you're below five team members won't be relevant yet. But they're in the same system. So when we start to add them, they don't become a new system that we have to start, we're starting with what we're going to need eventually.

That's never comfortable. The financial part of this is never comfortable, I get that. And this is one of those preaching to the choir, Adam, you're not measuring your financials as accurately as you should be all the time. You know, we all fail. But it's a matter of looking back and knowing what we have to do.

And circling back, and showing our own selves up. Finally, I want to get around to the idea of core business functions, what functions does the business actually do? And what is required to grow the business. So there are a lot of things that we think business is.

But when it comes down to its core business is about lead generation, nurturing those leads, converting those leads into customers, delivering products to those customers, and retention, resell and upsell, those are the core business functions.

If you concentrate your efforts on those five core business functions, then you'll be winning. You'll be able to identify what specifically you're doing within each of those five areas to grow your business. And if something does not fit in those area areas, you need to find a way to make it fit into those areas. Like Adam, what do you mean, like lead lead generation, but I'm just doing you know, my content marketing exactly is that if you're not relating that to lead generation, then why are you doing it?

If you're working on affiliate offers or partner promotions, or jayvees, how is this related to your core business functions, we concentrate our efforts on these and see where we're strong and where we're weak. Now we know where we need to do the work. Just as an example, I'm working with a client right now who is very, very, very strong in their delivery. And they have some work to do on some of their other core business functions, especially conversion and resell.

And so what I'm advising this client is to do just that, hey, your delivery is already really solid. So to grow the business, we need to concentrate on these other business functions. That's what's really going to grow the business. And when ideas come about or projects come about that are in the delivery side, I'm advising to great that's already your strong suit. That's already where you're excelling.

Continuing to work on that isn't going to actually grow the business because you're already so strong right there. So when we start with the idea of the core business functions, directing our efforts to address them, measuring how strong we are in on all of these, what we're doing is a couple fold. First off, we're concentrating our efforts on the things that will actually grow the company.

Second off, we're providing ourselves with the framework to think more strategically, we're able to work from that framework to think of the projects that will make the difference.

Because we're looking at it through this lens, this is a foundational lens, that if you're not doing it, look, let's jump on a call and talk about your business foundations and what you're doing, what your the functions of your business are, I am super happy to help. This is where, you know, talking about these kinds of things is certainly my happy place. And it's something that I'm particularly well suited for, it's this type of strategy, these strategic discussions that have to happen, but it all comes down to that foundational idea of measuring and observing your core business functions and basing your project delegation and your project importance off of what will improve those business functions.

So no matter where you are, like some of these foundations are going to be lacking. And that's always going to be the case. So forgive yourself for that. And just know that you can do things perfect from day one, and you're still going to find that you have to circle around and go back and restore up your own foundational systems on a regular basis, this is routine, what I've noticed is that when we move, right, when we keep on growing the business, we have to keep our eye on what's left, we have to keep our eye on what we've already done, to adapt things, to to fix things that break.

So that's part of it. Like we always have to be looking to the future while also looking to what's already done. And it's this constant game that we have to play with ourselves as we're growing a business.

So having someone to help you do that is definitely it's very helpful. It's helped me into growing multiple, seven figure businesses, it's helped me when advising and working with now I'm working with some, you know, eight and nine figure businesses on a regular basis, looking to grow everything that they're doing. And all of this becomes, you know, very congruent in some ways. So if you're interested in having a conversation about your own business foundations, and what can be done to shore them up, in order to grow to that next level to go from six to seven, or seven to eight, definitely hit me up, let's get on a call and talk about your business in particular, and see what I would recommend in order to shore this up. So you can continue to move to the right to grow your business to that next level and increase your contribution.

Okay, I've so enjoyed this conversation, being able to go down this rabbit hole of talking about foundational elements of the business. You know, we've covered a lot of these individual things in specific episodes. But I want to see that look at this, take a step back and look at this from a holistic perspective of foundational elements of business and what you need to do and what you need to be considering. Even when you're starting at the gift solopreneur phase. I know many of you are already past that. And that's great. But again, just because we move past that we're at the three to five to 10 to 20 team members, doesn't mean we're done looking to our foundations. If something is off in your company, if something feels uncomfortable, I almost guarantee you, it's a foundational issue that we just need to shore up, fix and ship out to the team when we focus on building foundations versus adding more dressing of adding more features to the top of the business, usually nine times out of 10 It's a foundational element that we need to fix. And that will actually fix everything else.

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