Do you love to create your Business Plan? No! I get it and so does my Expert Guest for this interview: “You want me to do what?? 3 Ways to Make Business Planning Fun, Creative and Worthy of your Time.” Find out about the Visual Business Plan and how to create it in this interview with Dr. Minette Riordan.
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Dr. Minette Riordan
Dr. Minette Riordan is an award-winning entrepreneur and two time best selling author. For over 10 years she ran a multi-media publishing company, growing a small quarterly newspaper to a monthly magazine with a circulation of 40,000 copies a month.
Minette is passionate about helping other creative women entrepreneurs to create the right business model for their creative type so they can get on the path to profit and stay there. She and her husband now run a successful coaching and training business from their home near the beach. In her spare time she loves to make art, take long beach walks with her husband and hang out with her awesome teens.
Visual Business Plan
In this interview Minette will take you through the basics of planning for business success. And this does not mean creating a 30-page Business Plan document.
If you are not creating your Business plan for the purpose of obtaining funding from banks or Angel Capital, you don’t require this type of document, says Minette. As a matter of fact, a simple, yet visual Business Plan that you can mount on the wall in your office is a source of reference can be much more powerful.
In the interview Minette talks about the creative process to design a visual Business Plan. Minette and husband Brad teach the process during 3-day seminars, the Path to Profit Summit. To find out more follow Minette on Social Media:
Dream Design Profit event: www.PathToProfitAcademy.com/summit
Free Entrepreneur’s Personality Quiz: www.PathToProfitAcademy.com/quiz
Follow Dr. Minette Riordan and Path to Profit Academy:
Hello and welcome. This is Petra Mayer, Petra Mayer Consulting, Online Strategy Made Easy. Welcome to today’s expert interview which I’m really, really excited about. I have with us here today, Dr. Minette Riordan.
Minette is here from sunny California and is going to share with us a lot about how to build your business in a way that is profitable and stays profitable. Hello Minette, so great to have you here.
Thanks for having me, Petra. Vancouver is one of my favorite cities. It’s pretty beautiful in Santa Barbara but it’s equally beautiful in Vancouver.
Yeah, it’s beautiful and today we even have sunshine.
Wow, it’s an extra special day!
It’s a special day. It’s been a pretty good last couple of weeks but we know we are heading for more rain in the future again as we do here. Minette, I’m so glad that you are here because you have a lot to share particularly with the group of creative entrepreneurs.
I’m really waiting for you to explain to us what that is. But let me do the official introduction first. Dr. Minette Riordan is an award-winning entrepreneur and two-time bestselling author. For over 10 years she ran a multimedia publishing company, growing a small quarterly newspaper to a monthly magazine with a circulation of 50,000 copies a month.
Even though that company was grossing hundreds of thousands of dollars, cash flow was a challenge. And Minette realized that working hard and selling more were not the secret to building a profitable business.
Discovering the right changes to make helped her to get out of debt, turn her nearly bankrupt business around and ultimately sell her publishing company and move her family to beautiful Santa Barbara, California, where she is joining us now.
Minette is passionate about helping other creative women entrepreneurs to create the right business model for their creative tribe so they can get on the path to profit and stay there.
She and her husband now run a successful coaching and training business from their home near the beach and in their spare time she loves to make art, take long walks along the beach with her husband and hang out with their awesome teens. Welcome again, Minette and I am so glad that you are here and that we can share this time together and share some of your wisdom with my audience.
Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be connecting. I love that we get to have these conversations.
Yes. And what I said earlier you specifically work with what you say is creative women entrepreneurs. Perhaps give me some background, who is that actually?
Me. I had that aha moment where I was really sort of paying attention who the clients were that were showing up in the first couple of years of my coaching business and they were all just beautiful reflections of me.
Someone who identifies as creative and most entrepreneurs are creative by the way, I think it takes creativity to be a successful entrepreneur. They tend to be visual thinkers, not linear strategic thinkers. They don’t always love systems and processes. They are great at creative problem solving.
A lot of times it’s not even what they are doing that’s creative so much as how they approach life from a very creative perspective. It has a lot to do with learning styles, how they process information, how they choose to share information with the world.
I truly believe that we are all creative at the core and most of us received some not so loving messages while we were children about maybe our ability to create art. I don’t think creativity and art should be conflated, they need to be separated out that we all approach our lives, our businesses and our work from a beautifully unique perspective that’s truly creative.
I love that. As you know in my work I deal a lot with learning styles because we are looking at creating training and articulate training people online and perhaps in a way where we are not interacting.
Understanding how people are consuming information and how they interact with information is really important. That’s really interesting because I know that you are an artist yourself and you create a lot of art. I was always kind of picturing you, almost like a painting you when you are doing your workshops. Is that what you are doing in your workshops?
In our live workshops we don’t paint because it’s a little messy in the hotel rooms but there are definitely crayons, markers, jot pens, coloured pencils, glitter sometimes, anything we can do to make the business planning process more process and fun.
Because as a creative the first time someone said to me that I needed to write a business plan my eyes rolled back in my head and I went, I don’t have time to write a business plan. Who has time for that? It’s traditional, formal business plan takes a considerable amount of time and research. Is it a valuable process? Yes.
Do we all need one? No, we need a roadmap. We need something that’s going to guide us and direct us. We need clear goals and a clear vision. If you are going after any kind of traditional funding, venture capital, joint investors or just a bank loan you will need a traditional business plan. But most of us just need some guidelines.
We actually created a fun process that looks like a Mandela, those are some of mine on there on the wall back there behind me, where we have created a one-page model that has everything you need to know to drive your business forward. But we do it all with jot pens and crayons and markers because who said business planning had to be boring?
That sounds so much more fun that what I would picture. I am like you, it’s like a whole new project if we have to create a business plan and a detailed marketing plan and all that. It feels like okay by the time that I’m done with that I’m out of energy to actually implement the whole thing.
So tell us a little more how do you go about that? If somebody were to think about coming to your workshop how would you describe the process that they are going to go through and what they walk away with?
Great question. They’ll actually walk away with a complete business plan and a good start on the marketing strategy as well. Because I’m a big fan of simplifying the process of doing business in large part because I ran a big business that was time consuming, draining, at some point just completely exhausting.
Printing a monthly magazine is very deadline-driven and I also was raising two very small children at the time. I’ve got teenagers now, in fact I’m getting ready to send one off to college in the fall so I’m at a very different place in my life. But I found myself working very hard without a lot to show for it.
As it said in my bio we were grossing hundreds of thousands of dollars but internally we were not making a profit. Part of that was because I didn’t understand how to pay attention to the right numbers in my business. But part of it was also the fact that I didn’t have any idea where I was going.
When I started the business I just thought this will be fun, I’ll make some money, it will give me something to do, I don’t want to be a stay at home mom anymore—no offence to stay at home moms at all—but I was bored. I needed more interaction, I wanted to contribute to my family and I just kind of said, how hard can it be?
I had no business experience, Petra, none. I had sold jewelry at Claire’s, I had done a lot of babysitting and I had done a lot of teaching and training at the high school and university level. But I thought, okay I can figure it out, right? Some part of it I was great at.
Marketing and sales I was so happy in that arena. I fell in love with marketing. I became a total marketing geek, I still am. But there were parts of it I either avoided or that I didn’t understand. I had to learn how to read my Profit and Loss sheet and my Balance sheet.
I always had great support. I always had an accountant, I always had a bookkeeper so I had people advising me. But even those people couldn’t really look at the numbers and help me understand how to price things effectively to make a profit in my business. In the 11 years I had that company I made pretty much every mistake you can make as a business owner.
I also had a lot of success, won a bunch of awards, had a lot of fun and I think I learned what it was that I was really good at. I think being an entrepreneur really helps haul out of us what our brilliance is. The part about really becoming a leader in your company is focusing on what it is you are great at and making sure you have great support around you to take care of those other pieces.
Yes. So now that you work with your clients you help them on the business planning and in some cases marketing strategy side of things, when they come to you they probably don’t have much of an idea, I’m assuming.
No, we tend to like to work with the ones that have been in business three to five years and are feeling really stuck. They probably hit an income plateau, they are making money but they don’t know how to get from where they are sitting to where they want to be.
If you are brand new in business then there are some incredible free resources out there in local communities to get free business advice. If you are brand new just go for it, don’t let anybody stop you. But do just go for it and do create a business plan, even if it’s just a one-page roadmap that will guide you to where you are going.
But our clients tend to be further along. They definitely have a website in place already, they are making sales already but what they are doing isn’t working anymore. So when you start word of mouth works, you get a lot of referrals then at some point you just kind of run out.
You outgrow your local community or your local networking groups and you want some of that higher level strategy. Or you max out on time and you don’t know how to start really creating passive income and leveraging your business, how to really repeat what it is you do in a way that doesn’t always require you to be present and personally you doing the work.
Right, awesome. So then they work with you and put the plan in place which is probably then a different type of plan to get them into that next stage of their business?
It really starts with clarity, Petra. When you and I met a couple of years ago we were both in that place of what are we doing, right?
We’ve kind of reversed engineered the entire business planning process. Most people start with here’s what I want to do or here’s what I want to sell or here’s what I’m offering and they forget to pay attention to the financial piece. We actually start at the very centre of our business plan which kind of looks like a target in the centre.
We start with what we call the bold money goal because if you don’t know how much money you want or need to make to support your business, to support your lifestyle, to pay you a generous salary then you can’t price anything. You are sort of then in this magical thinking about pricing which a lot of creatives have magical thinking when it comes to pricing or they compare themselves to others.
So starting with that place of clarity, this is how much money I need to make and then backing everything out from there so that you build a business model that’s in alignment with your money goals, not the other way around.
Yes, love it. So do you find that they find it easy or is it difficult for them to kind of put things upside down to what they’ve been told to do all their lives, when they grew up and also in their business life?
No. It’s probably one of the biggest ahas that they get from working with us is that oh I have to think about the money first and then it makes everything else easy. I think there are three pieces that make it really easy; how much money you want to make, why are you the best person to offer this product or service and who is it you feel most called to impact and to help and support?
As you know in the work that you do, knowing how that ideal client is, is the missing piece in business success. What I find with creatives is they get to that three to five-year mark where they’ve been kind of serving everybody who shows up and they are frustrated, they are not feeling fulfilled and they are usually undercharging.
So when you combine the money piece, the ideal client piece and the why piece, it creates this beautiful foundation where then magic really can happen.
Yeah, awesome. So we just focus kind of on these crucial elements about the audience, about the money piece and then also what you love doing too. That’s the part that drives us forward so we are not delivering something that is really not feeding us in some ways. I see that a lot.
I see a lot of people that are just following opportunities. I’ve done that so followed opportunities and then at the end of it you think oh gosh this is not really what I wanted. So really figuring out what you want to do, what will feed you. So what else is there that people need to be aware of? You were saying earlier you didn’t know which numbers you needed to look at.
Yeah so that pricing piece is so important and those different aspects of that. Here’s one of the biggest mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make—and not just creative ones it’s all entrepreneurs especially in their first couple of years in their business. When they are pricing and packaging their services they forget to include their time.
So they might look at what other companies are charging. They forget to really understand what their cost of doing business is and the fact that your time is part of your cost of doing business. You have to plan for profit. It’s why our business is called The Path to Profit Academy because it is a path and it is normal for businesses in their first couple of years to not make a profit.
If you are prepared for that it can be devastating and terrifying as well. So helping people understand that this is an amazing journey you are going to go on and it’s going to take longer than you want it to. It’s so frustrating. I don’t know about you, I’m super impatient and I just want it to go faster.
Yeah, me too.
Be right on track with putting the foundations in place. So I would say understanding exactly how much it costs to run your business, how much you want to make then adding some in there for savings or for travel or college funds. It’s like we forget to look at the entire lifestyle package, especially if you come out of corporate and you are used to that nice salary.
You get to break that salary up and some goes to your investments and some goes to savings and it goes to college funds. And it’s kind of taken care of for you. And then all of a sudden you are 100% responsible for your health benefits, for your cost to doing business, no more secretaries and assistants running around to help you.
It can be pretty shocking to the system if people don’t have a grasp on the actual amount of money it will take them to maintain the lifestyle that they want to lead.
Yeah. You are very, very right. I totally agree with you. I certainly saw that transformation when I came out of corporate and now I’ve done my own business. I am very conscious of the financial side. It doesn’t mean it’s always working out the same way that I want to.
The consciousness is the first step.
Yeah but you just have to think about cash flow all the time. All the time you have to think about cash flow while before I didn’t have to think about cash flow because my lifestyle was within the means that I could afford it for the salary that I got and at the end of the year you had to sometimes pay a little bit of tax, or get a little bit tax.
This year it just hits me in the face when I got my tax bill and I needed to pay a huge amount of taxes where I didn’t actually feel I had the cash for it. Those are things that in business they can be sometimes offering surprises.
I’ve heard that story multiple times like if you have a great year in your business and you forgot to save appropriately for taxes it’s like it’s a celebration and a tragedy at the same time.
Because it means wow you made great money but if you didn’t plan appropriately those tax bills can be really scary. I had one of my clients get hit with a $10,000 tax bill that was unexpected and she didn’t have the cash to pay for it.
Here in Canada it also means—I don’t know if that’s the same in the States—but when you get a big tax payment like that then your quarterlies go up. But it doesn’t mean that that makes your year just as good. So you are always like your tax cash flow is a year off your actual cash flow and that makes it sometimes a little challenging.
I love what you are doing and I know that you teach predominantly as part of a two or three-day event?
Yeah, we have a super fun three-day event called Dream Design Profit. It’s a three-day marketing and business intensive for creatives. The first time that I hosted it, we have one coming up at the end of September, the first time we hosted it one of my creative friends from here in Santa Barbara was going to come.
She was like, you are not going to talk at us for three days, are you? And I laughed, I said no it’s very interactive. This is a hands-on workshop where you will walk away with things complete, with plans in place and knowing exactly what to do when you get to the office on Monday.
This is not an inspirational/motivational event although there’ll be plenty of that as well and it often comes from the other attendees as much as it does from me. But the whole intensive is designed to get you back to work with a new, fresh perspective so that you are making a consistent profit in your business. Like “what are the right marketing strategies?”
I find that most of us are doing too much. It’s not that we are not doing enough. We are actually doing too much and so we are not mastering the right strategies for our particular business. And no two businesses share the same strategies. So a big part of what we do is help people to define what are the three essential marketing strategies to master and then the next three and the next three.
So can you do a lot of marketing? Sure but the biggest amount of overwhelm I see comes from not knowing what to try, what will work for their business or what to spend money on because I do believe in investing and marketing. But I’ve also wasted a lot of money, I don’t know about you, on Facebook ads and all kinds of things. Let’s try this or advertise here, sponsor that and it didn’t always get us the return on investment that we wanted. So helping people know exactly what to spend their time on.
Yeah. Well I’ve certainly been there particularly with Facebook ads. That’s a sore point.
It’s a money pit.
Yes. I’ve hired experts to do my Facebook ads and basically I could have taken the money and thrown it out the window to be quite honest. But I’m sure that there are some people who are making a huge amount of money with their Facebook ads so I’m not saying it’s not the right thing. I think it’s just one of those strategies that you have to be prepared to put quite a bit of money into the learning curve.
Yeah and we have done that this year very successfully in terms of lead generation and then it’s on us to make sure that we are monetizing those leads. So there’s more to it than the Facebook ads.
Marketing is so complex and it’s really fun and I guess that’s why I love the creative aspect if you can approach marketing from a spirit of play and remember that you are just testing everything, testing everything, testing everything all the time. I never thought I would say that.
I like other people to collect data and then I’m happy to look at data, don’t ask me to do the collection like the spreadsheet. But when you start really paying attention to where your time and money are going then you can rewrite the story of your business success and make sure you are focusing on new opportunities or the right opportunities.
Part of that is back to those basics of just knowing who your clients are. When you know who they are you know where they are. If you are wasting money on Facebook ads and your clients aren’t on Facebook then you are wasting money.
Right. Let’s look at perhaps three steps that you would recommend to somebody who listened to this and said okay yeah I want to fix this for me. What are the first three things that that person would need to do?
Great question. I will sound like a broken record but step one is to get really clear about that money goal like exactly how much money that you need to make. This isn’t that pie in the sky, I want to be a millionaire and if you do that’s awesome. Maybe you are closer to that which is awesome as well.
But for most of us it’s like maybe you are at $50,000 and want to get to $100,000 or you are at $100,000 and want to get to $250,000. Be crystal clear about how money you need, what it’s for and why you want to make it. Are you willing to put in the effort to make that much money? Sometimes it’s just as easy to say you know what, I’m actually really happy right here at $100,000.
It pays all my bills, I still have plenty left over. Don’t think that you have to go build a business with these huge goals either. So getting realistic about your numbers is the first thing. The second thing is really knowing your ideal client intimately as if they were your best friend.
You can often start by looking in the mirror, depending on what business or industry that you are in. But when you really know who they are and what their biggest challenges, problems and desires are then your marketing can speak to them. I like to think of marketing as just writing love letters. It really is about writing love letters to these peoples and saying I hear you, I see you, I’m here to support you and I can help. That would be step number two is knowing your client.
Step number three is another inner journey piece which is really identifying your core values and making sure that you are building a business that’s in alignment with what you want most and what you want to stand for.
What’s cool about identifying your core values is that once you identify them you’ll find that your clients are usually this beautiful match. You will have shared values and if you’ve ever worked with someone who doesn’t share your core values you’d probably remember that. So when you start to speak to your core values in your marketing language you will attract clients who really resonate with that.
Lovely, love it, wonderful. Thank you for the three steps. That’s awesome material. The next thing is for those of them, those of the listeners who want to find out more about your service offerings and particularly also your events regardless if they listened to this before your next event or after your next event. How can they find out more?
Awesome. So to find out more about the Dream Design Profit event they can simply go to www.PathToProfitAcademy.com/summit. A fun free thing I would love to share is that they can also go to www.PathToProfitAcademy.com/quiz and we have an awesome assessment to help you determine what your creative business archetype is.
And if you are building the right business model for your personality because if you are not building the right business model then you are never going to be successful so make sure you are building the right business model at www.PathToProfitAcademy.com/quiz.
Awesome. I’ll put those links under the video so they can see them very quickly and I will certainly do that quiz. I’m curious now. I suspect you are on Facebook, you are on LinkedIn?
You can find me, I had an aunt one time that was trying to find my phone number and couldn’t find it in her house. She googled me and she’s like, wow you are really easy to find online. Yes, you can find other MInette Riordan or Path to Profit Academy on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Facebook and on Instagram as well. If you want to see my art, find me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram.
Awesome. Great. We will definitely put those links on there as well so that is easy. I really want to thank you for spending the time with me here today and for inspiring me to look at my business planning process because yeah it’s one of things I’ve kind of kept a little bit to the side. It’s all there. It’s all up here.
Yeah but when we can’t see it we forget about it. I prefer to have it hanging on the wall where it’s visual and you can see it. And when you feel stuck and don’t know what to do you go back to the plan and like oh yeah that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. It just simplifies everything.
Yeah, great idea. Wonderful idea. Thank you so much Minette for joining us today and for sharing your wisdom.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s always a delight to visit with you Petra.
Great. See you soon. Bye bye.