Business Planning

Jan 12, 2024 | Business

“Show Notes”

This episode of Shoot to the Top is Sponsored by Website 4 Photographers. This is Sam’s business. They can get you more leads and more customers using SEO and website design. ⁠ website4photographers.co.uk⁠

⁠⁠ ⁠https://website4photographers.co.uk/⁠

The show starts talking about why would you have a business plan?

The most basic answer is it helps you achieve your goals in life and in business. This is linked to where you and your business want to be in one year or in five years. Then the key is working out how you are going to get there. Sam thinks this is the essence of a business plan and it should be for you, personally.  The goals might be financial, lifestyle, number of shoots whatever is relevant and important for you.

So the business plan is about you helping yourself to achieve your goals. This means the business plan is not a one off price of work that is then ignored. It is a living document, it is guiding us day to day to help us meet our goals. What do you put in a business plan? It depends what your goals are. There will usually be a financial element. There will be steps you need to take to achieve your goals. Most plans will include: Marketing, sales and finance as a minimum. There could be all sorts of other things in there like business processes, your team (if you have one). There could be a section on your development and equipment. The key is it’s about the things needed to reach your goals.

Marcus asks about if there are apps etc to help. Sam said there are loads of advice and templates out there. It’s a case of finding ones that work for you. The business plan usually contains big steps in your journey to achieve your goals. Therefore you need a system to break those down into much smaller steps that you implement in day to life in your business.

Marcus asked if an accountant or business coach is the best person to speak to, to get support with making a business plan. Sam suggests it depends on the focus of your plan.

The first step in your business planning process is thinking about what do you want to achieve. This is about making it interesting, fun and relevant for you.

“Show Transcription”

Marcus: Hello listeners, and welcome to do shoot to the Top podcast with myself, Marcus Ahmed, and my very good friend, Sam Hollis. Hi Sam.

Sam: Hi Marcus. How is everything with you?

Marcus: Show that I know you prepared for today is going to be very enlightening. It’s definitely well for me, certainly it’s going to be talking about business plans. Sam, over to you.

Sam: Excellent. So do we need to first refer to that book, Marcus? What is it? Swallow the frog. What’s the exact name? Does that know you have to swallow that frog, Marcus? Is this one of those situations? Do I gather?

 Marcus: It’s a foggy one?

Sam: This episode of shoot to the top is sponsored by a website for photographers. I’m Sam Hollis from shoot to the top and website for photographers is my business. I help photographers get more leads and so more customers from their website. I do this through SEO and website services, both tailored specifically for photographers. In this business, I only work with photographers and as you know from the podcast, I spend loads of time talking to photographers and really getting to know the photography business. So if you want more leads and more customers, get in touch with me. Rather shoot to the top website. Email me at info@website4photographers.Co.Uk Or look for more contact details in the show notes. And now on with the show.

Sam: Excellent. Right. So, yeah, I was going to talk this week about business plans. So the first thing I think really to talk about is why. Yeah, I think that’s fundamental with most things we do, isn’t it? Why bother with a business plan? Why would you have one? What on earth is the point? And I guess the first thing is then where do you want your business to go? What do you want it achieved, to achieve? Where do you want it to be next year, in five years, in ten years? Which is kind of linked, where do you personally want to be and where do you want the business to be? And kind of often those are very much linked together, especially when you’re a photography business, because often the photography business is, the business is largely you. And then the question is, if you’ve got an idea of where you want to be and what you want to achieve, be that, how much money you want to make, or all sorts of other things, the question is then how do you get there? And so once you know where you want to be and you start to think about how you want to get there. That’s kind of a business plan, basically, you put things in there. That’s kind of it. I mean, sometimes you need it for other things. So sometimes, for example, if you’re getting some funding for your business, you need to put forward a business plan or you’re getting some investment, you need to put forward a business plan or a business case. But I think largely it should be for you, for you going right, in one year’s time, where do I want to be? Well, I want to be doing, say, ten premium weddings a year. Just ten. But I want them to be paying me five grand a wedding and that’s where I want to be. And so you’ve got a goal and then you start to work out how you’re going to get there. Or it might be you’ve got another job now. Okay. I want my photography business to give me 10k extra money on top of my work and I want to work 20 weekends and how am I going to do that and when am I going to achieve that by? And then you can start to think about how am I going to get there. So, yeah, the very first thing is why are you in business? What are you try and achieve? Where do you want to be? And it might be that you’re only looking a year out, it might be you’re looking at five or ten years out, and it might be you’re doing a bit of a mix of both. There are no hard and fast rules here. The business plan is for you, but the key is, what do you want to achieve? And if you don’t from that, then work out how you’re going to get there and work out the steps, then you’re never going to achieve it. Let’s be honest, if you just tootle along and just carry on as normal, then nothing will change.

Marcus: Interesting stuff, Sam, interesting stuff. So you’re saying it’s not a one off thing, it’s something you do constantly?

Sam: I mean, one of the things I was going to say, your business plan should be a living document. I was just the other day, I usually do mine. I kind of do a big update once a year. I kind of usually work on an April to April cycle for my business. April to March, sorry. Same as the financial year. And. Yeah, so I normally do a big update then, but I changed mine yesterday. Right. It just went, I’m not doing some of those things, actually. I’ve fundamentally changed that. So, yeah, it’s a living, doc. It’s not something we should put in a cupboard. Well, we’ve done that. We put it in a box file, it goes in the cupboard, because then it’s a pointless waste of time. This is something that is guiding us day today. We might not be referring to it day day, but it’s guiding what we’re doing day to day to help us get towards our goals.

Marcus: Okay.

Marcus: And that’s one of the, I mean, what I was going to say, sam, I’m sure you’re going to be coming on to this, but what kind of things are in a business plan?

Sam: So that’s a good point. So the key is, really is what do you need to do to get to where you want to go? So it kind of depends on what your goals are. For most people, there’s at least a financial element. For other people, it might be more a lifestyle element, it might be an awards element, whatever it is. But it’s basically a case of for where you want to get to, what do you need to do? You need to think about the steps. So for most people in most business plans, you’re going to need some thought about marketing, because most people want more business or different business or something along the lines of the clients they get. And so in terms of getting clients in, that is marketing, usually you’d have some sort of sales thing in goal. Obviously, once you’ve got them in, you have to sell them something or they’re not going to be clients. And usually there’s some sort of finance goals. I want to be getting this much per month or this much minimum per client, whatever it is, some sort of finance goal. So no matter what your goals, it’d be very rare for you not to need those three things. But depending on your goals, there might be other things in there. So there might be business systems in there in terms of you want to really, you need to really sort of slim line things you do within the business. It might be as simple as the way you edit your photos and you’re spending your whole life doing this, and you go, right, how can we make this a much more efficient system? It might be you have a team, so you’re thinking about VAs. You might have people who do the editing, you might have assistants and how they’re organized. It might be your personal growth. So it might be going, I want to achieve this, but actually, at the moment, I know I don’t have the financial skills to do this, or I don’t have the confidence to do that. So where am I going to go to find people who can help me build my skills and my development? So I can reach those goals. It might be equipment or supplies. It might be you suddenly want to be a food photographer, in which case you suddenly need x, y and z. I need a macro lens. I need a smoke machine, whatever it is, to help you do what you want to do. So it might be simple as I need some stuff that might convolve collaborators. It might be site to do a podcast, Marcus needs somebody to make the podcast with. So you might need collaborators, too. There are all sorts of things that come in, but the key is the things that come in is going to be different from person to person. So you can get, like, pre-done business plans online where you fill in the gaps. But I think it really needs to be for you. What are you trying to achieve? How are you trying to get there? And then what is it that you need to get there? What parts of your business need to change for you to reach it? And some parts might not need to. So you need to. It’s just like, yeah, they’ll carry in as normal. They’re fine. But this bit, I really need to work. Look at my costs. They’re crazy, okay? Finance needs to be bigger. I need to get a real handle on my cost, because when I get to the photography shop, I’m just a nightmare. And I’ve always got something new, whether I need it or not. Yeah. So I think it needs to be really personal about what you’re trying to achieve and how you’re going to do it.

Marcus: And there’s a lot in there, Shan. You’ve talked about. You talked about goals, you talked about finance, you talked about where you want to be going with business, where you’ve been. Is there any way. I mean, I struggle at this, as you can tell my wife always, and you know me anyhow, I struggle at this. Is there any way to sweeten software that you can use or some kind of system or formula that you follow? What advice can you say?

Sam:  There’s tons and tons of different people who will tell you, do a business plan in a different way. I guess you have to find one that works for you. Other people think you need a humongous 15 page business plan. Other people go for something in between. I think the key is it’s got to be useful for you. So, yeah, I think the key is you just start with, what do I want to achieve? Where do I want to be in a year, in five years? And that’s really important. Then you could come away, think about it a bit more, and then come back and go, okay, so let’s look at the year. This is where I am now. That’s where I want to be. What steps do I need to take to get there? So let’s say I want to get to higher value clients. I’m going to have to change my marketing to reach those sorts of clients instead of the lower value clients I’m reaching. And then you can start to think of some steps that you’re going to do to get there. So I think maybe do it in stages. Think about the big goals first and then step away and then get excited, because that’s the thing to get excited about, isn’t it? The big goals. And then you probably your brain be thinking, well, how am I going to get there? And then maybe come back a week later and go, right, let’s just put in a couple of things. I need to reach those goals and then leave it again and come back and think, right, let’s put a bit more detail in how am I going to get there?

Marcus:  I see. Basically, I get it. Okay, this is becoming clearer to me and a lot more wholesome, if I may say. So basically you’ve got your goals, what you want, and that’s part of the business plan. But underneath supporting that is the nuts and bolts of how you’re going to do that. The finance, the money, the income, etc.

Sam: Yeah, and there’s no point just having, I’m going to do my accounts every month. That’s not a business plan. You’re doing that anyway. It’s what you’re going to. To me, I mean, different people tell you different things. Obviously, I’m not the guru of business plans. This is kind of my approach to me. It’s about getting where you want to go. And I think then an important thing once you have made that plan is how still your steps in your business plan are probably going to be quite big because you’re not going to like, you don’t want it to be 15 pages. And you go, well, on week one, I’m going to do this in week two because you’ll go mad. So usually the steps are big-ish in your business plan. So then you need to just make sure you’ve got some way system where every month you go back to your business plan or every week or every quarter and go, right, I need to get to that next step next month or in the next quarter. So what am I going to do month to month, week to week, day to day, over the next month or the next quarter to reach that goal and really make sure you’re breaking those down into little achievable steps. Because I used to make the mistake to start with is I’d have those big steps and then once a quarter I’d look at them and go, oh, well, I still haven’t made that big step, oh, well, I’ll get it next time. And then I’d come back next time and go, oh, well, I still haven’t made that. Well, now I much more have a system where every month I look at my business plan, I have monthly goals. They get broken down into weekly goals. I don’t go beyond weekly, but each week I’ve got goals that I’m trying to achieve and they’re helping to get me towards my monthly goals and they’re working towards my quarterly goals and they’re working towards kind of goals that are in the business plan that are higher level and you’ve got to try, and if you don’t get down to those little steps and you just have this big plan of, yeah, I’m going to double the number of customers by next year, but you haven’t worked out the steps. You’re going to get there. You’re not going to get there.

Marcus: Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Sam, do you think if you’re going to seek help on this or would you better off going to a business coach or an accountant or both? Or neither?

Sam:  Both can help you. I found for me both have helped me, both business coaches and your accountant. Obviously your accountant will have the stronger focus on the account. So I think in some ways having their eye on things is really good, but also having a business coaches eye on things who has a broader picture is really good, too. But obviously it depends what you can afford, too. But, yeah, I think both. There are so many business coaches out there and some know loads of stuff and some know nothing at all and just turn up and say they’re a business coach, which makes the whole thing a challenge. It’s a massively crowded market to me. I think the best thing with a business coach is think is firstly, do you get on with them and could you work with them? And secondly, look at their experience. What have they built in the past? What businesses have they been involved in? Have they succeeded at what’s their experience? Because there seem to be some that have loads of experience and are bringing that to you and others that have just gone, oh, I’m a business coach today.

Marcus:  Yeah. Well, funny enough, this is a quick mention. We have got lined up some really excellent photography coaches coming up in future episodes, which I’m sure our listeners are going to hear more about, but I’m very excited to get them on board. Yeah. Okay, Sam. Okay, you’ve persuaded me. What do I do next? What can I do to get on this journey of being more efficient and having a business plan that’s going to make me a multimillionaire?

Sam:  Well, the first off is deciding if that’s what you want. That’s the key, isn’t it? What is it you want to achieve? I think that’s the key. It’s taking the time out to go, where do I want to be in a year, in five years? What do I want the business to be? What’s it going to achieve? Is it just going to be me and I just want this income and that’s fine? Do I want it to become an agency and then I can sell it? Do I want it to morph as I get older into something that involves me less? So there’s more online training, what do I want it to be? Where do I want it to go? And then working out those steps. And then the key is really how you, in your day to day business, week to week business, month to month business, ensure that you’re putting in those little steps and you’re regularly working on those so that you can achieve those bigger steps that you’re trying to get to.

Marcus: Okay, so what software do you use before? I bet it’s an excel spreadsheet.

Sam: So a business plan I have just written as a word document. But, yeah, I then do have a spreadsheet for, like, goals where I just write in my aim for sales in this, or quarterly turnover in that, or whatever else it is, and then you can just each month, put a little comment. I sometimes have some for business improvement. Just how am I improving my business? And have I done that? Have I added that system, got that working, made that more efficient? So, yeah, that sort of thing. And the key is just making sure, week to week, month to month, you’re keeping an eye on it and don’t kill yourself over it. That’s the goals you want to achieve. And you won’t always get there, and you’ll get setbacks. The idea is it’s fun and it’s about getting where you want to be. It’s not about on this bloody thing. And why am I doing that?

Marcus: Yeah. And I think a word you keep mentioning is little steps. And I think that’s the big takeaway in this, is to do it in small, as we know. That’s marketing, isn’t it? It’s doing things. And don’t try and do it all at once. You just get overwhelmed by it. Yeah. Well, I guess we’re coming up to wrapping the show up, Sam, any sort of final nuggets on this?

Sam:  No. I think the key is make it work for you. Make it enjoyable. It’s about you achieving what you want to achieve. It’s not about you filling in a form because somebody said you should.

Marcus: Great. Great. Okay. I’m eager and willing to get on with my business plan now. I can’t wait to finish the show.

Sam:  You can go with the next.

Marcus: Okay, thank you, Sam. Thanks for being so insightful. All joking aside, we all know how important a business plan. I mean, you’re not going to go to a bank or set of a business without a plan. So thank you, Sam, for sharing those insights.

Sam: That’s right. And I will speak to you next week, Marcus. Oh, and one more thing. Wait, one more thing. So I do have some extra bonus content that people who listen to the newsletter will get to. And the newsletter, you can sign to the newsletter in our new website. So it is @shoottothetop.com. Much easier to remember than our old one. It is simply shoettothetop.com. I think even Marcus will manage that next time. Shootothetop.com. Sign up to the newsletter. You’ll get bonus content, extra stuff from me and Marcus. You get the podcast sent to your inbox. So go and sign up now and we’ll see you next week.