QUESTION: Mike, what is the best way to do a business plan for a solo operator?  Marty, Auckland, NZ

ANSWER: That is a great question which is probably an hour or two of training, but I will share the basics.  One, you want to get really clear on the outcomes.

In a call I did earlier this year, I spent about an hour talking about the elements of a good business plan.

  1. You want to be really clear on what the outcome is.  Crystal clear.  Have a specific revenue number.  What specifically do you want your role to be?  Specifically, do you want to be working with the same kind of clients?  Do you want a different type of client relationship?  Do you want to be completely contingency?  Do you want to raise your fees?  All these outcomes need to be clear.  So before you jump into the “how” you want to know the “what.”  The what and the why, and why is that important?  Define all that.  You want to write about that.  What is it about having engagements that is going to be different?  What is it about maybe some clients?  What is it about $300,000 versus $200,000 if you are a solo operator, or $400,000 versus $200,000?  What will that outcome make the difference?
  2. Once you define the number numerically and you have the “what’s” and the “why’s” break it down by your average fees.  So if it is $300,000, and your average fee is $25,000, that is 12 placements, 12 placements times $25,000 is $300,000.  Let us say industry average, kind of a common outcome is anywhere from 6 to 8 first time interviews to a placement.  Let us stay with 8 to be conservative, 8 first time interviews to a placement and you want to make a placement a month because you needed 12, that is 8 interviews a month, that is 2 interviews a week.  It is really that simple.  Then how many people do you have to talk to every week to ensure that you have 8 interviews?  Make sense?  So when you look at that, now you have the numerical target.  You have made it an algebra equation and you look at what your gaps in execution are.  So to hit those 2 things, what are your knowledge gaps?  Where do you need additional support?  Do you need training or coaching or onboarding or different technique stuff?  There are a whole variety of sources, not just me out there that do that.

Those are the key elements of a good plan.  The beauty is when you do it that way you will know the first week of execution if you are on target for your annual number, meaning did you get to 2 interviews?  If you got to 2 interviews, you are on track.  If you got less than 2 interviews, you are behind track.  Period.  I do not want to hear any stories.  I do not want any excuses.  It is black and white.  It is yes or no.  Then what you can be doing simultaneously is working on the technique things because you are clear on what those gaps are.