Why, after 14 years of successful business ownership without a business plan, would you decide to take a business planning course? You might say “why bother!! I’ve made it this far!” or wail some version of “I don’t have time!”
One of the realities of being a solo-business owner is the difficulty of getting out of your own head and figuring out an answer to the question, “now what?” Businesses ebb and flow, especially when in their second decade; it’s easy to feel stuck in a rut, harder to figure out how to grow and shift course. As Luci Morreale, owner of Ladderback Design, said, “My biggest hurdle was that I was trying to get bigger and better clients, and being a one woman shop made that seem difficult.”
Luci Morreale’s graphic design studio, Ladderback Design, has been through many iterations since 2001: she moved from Baltimore to Philadelphia; she shifted her focus at various points to branding or invitations or illustration, and even spent one whole year running a political campaign for a friend, while also running the business. She’s expanded and contracted over the years, both working on her own and employing two different assistants.
When she started Business Plan Boot Camp Luci was challenged by a history of letting her current clients drive her business, instead of using her experience to attract the bigger clients she wanted. While she had a sense of the kind of clients she wanted to attract, her marketing and website left the door wide open, hampering her ability to connect. Luci was showing up to her potential clients with a “whatever you need, I’ll do it!” attitude rather than as an expert showing her clients the light. She wasn’t a new designer hustling her first paying clients, however; her level of expertise, honed over a decade and a half in business, meant that she often has a better idea of what her clients need than they do. Her challenge was how to translate her knowledge into clear services that guide her clients towards success, rather than responding to what they thought they needed.
“Things I didn’t know I needed until I took Boot Camp were clear messaging to my clients, client experience enhancements, and ways to streamline my processes and explain them to potential clients.”
During the Boot Camp process, Luci refined her message and branding; got clearer on what clients she wanted to attract; and created a plan for hiring help so that she would have more time to focus on design. She also tightened up her services, streamlining and clarifying how she worked and what she offered, with the result that it was easier for potential clients to understand exactly what she could offer them.
“I liked Boot Camp for the community, the chance to discuss practical nitty gritty details with colleagues and experienced teachers, and the chance to practice public speaking and speaking about my biz in particular.” Through group feedback, Luci was able to test out various ways of speaking about her work, and hone in on what resonated.
“Boot Camp helped me get clearer about what I want in my day to day and what I want for the future of my business.”
Could Luci have grown and shifted her business without a plan? Most likely, she’s super driven and savvy. But even when you know what you want, investing in a planning process, especially one with the feedback and camaraderie of Boot Camp, will accelerate your growth. You’ve heard the maxims before: it takes a village; we do more in community than on our own, etc, etc… Or, as Luci says, Boot Camp reminded me “to learn from people I admire on a regular basis.”
Been stuck in your head too long about your business? Check out Business Plan Boot Camp. Limited spaces open for September.