For speakers, there’s no lack of things they can do to build their businesses, and the options can get overwhelming:
Create and practice the keynote. Build the online course. Write the book.
And on, and on.
While these are all great activities to engage in if you’re a speaker, many of us mistake the trees for the forest: We get busy in a lot of different activities and lose track of why we’re doing them. At the end of a day, week, or even month, our businesses are no further along than where we started even though we never feel like we have a spare moment.
Having seen a lot of speakers and entrepreneurs fall into this pattern, I asked myself:
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“How can I get clear on the strategy my business is executing each month so I know my weeks and days will move those goals forward?”
If you are reading this in the spring of 2020, then you’ll understand how applicable this is when most speakers are stuck at home. Many of them are checking out completely and catching up on their DVRs. Some recognize the opportunity to set their businesses up for success, but don’t know where to start.
No matter what the economy is doing, we have a responsibility to our businesses and our clients to ensure our time is well-spent, and that means entering each new month with a plan.
Why Don’t Speakers Have a Monthly Plan?
Because professional speakers are largely entrepreneurs/solopreneurs, there’s not many business courses that cover the gamut of everything a small business owner needs to keep top-of-mind. However, ignorance is no excuse for apathy. Here are the reasons I see most speakers don’t have monthly plans:
1. They have no process for replicating a plan, month-to-month
For a lot of speakers, it’s all they can do to keep up with their inboxes. Planning 4-6 weeks in advance never happens consistently because speakers don’t have a project management method that prompts them at the beginning of each month to complete a repeating set of tasks. Without the prompt, speakers are left with, “I know I should be doing something at the beginning of the month, but I can’t remember what … ?” It’s easier to dive into the first fire they find burning in their businesses than to research their monthly tasks, so this invaluable check-in gets skipped.
2. They don’t know what tasks they should be engaging in at the beginning of the month
For many professional speakers (even the well-organized ones), their month is full of tasks – some that happen daily, other weekly, and some monthly. Unfortunately, many of these tasks are executed haphazardly whenever the speaker remembers to do them – if they remember at all! The tennis match that occurs psychologically when a person moves from strategy to tactics and back to strategy doesn’t do well for performance (in my speaking life, this is the topic I cover), so it’s best to define what events only need to occur monthly (usually strategy-oriented ones) and batch those together so the rest of the month can be devoted to weekly/daily tasks.
3. They don’t think they have time
This self-fulfilling prophecy is the favorite of people everywhere, and especially of professional speakers. The feeling of a lack of time is usually due to tasks and strategy being mis-aligned. When strategy is clear and defined tasks determined before they need to be executed, then important things get done first and if time remains, secondary priorities can be addressed.
So when do I execute my monthly tasks?
I’ve found that getting my monthly tasks done actually begins before the month they’re due. The reason is, I need to block the time on the first business day of the month to set monthly strategy and knock out my once-a-month tasks, otherwise it doesn’t happen or stretches out into the first few weeks of the month.
Once that time is blocked out the week prior, that time is held just like a client appointment – because it’s guaranteed to generate revenue.
What monthly tasks should I complete?
1. Get your business finances in order
Take a look at your cash reserves, budgets for each expense category of your business, and review accounts receivables. If any action needs to be taken in these areas, put those smaller tasks on your to-do-list. Knowing where your business stands financially is what enables you to make intelligent decisions with your purchases and sales conversations.
A great strategic check to complete along with this is to determine your cash liquidity in reserves. In other words, how long can you keep your business going if no revenue comes in? Knowing this number allows you to better face rejection from a prospect and to quickly move on to someone who can say yes. Not knowing how long your business can function on reserves means that every speaking gig is life and death – and that doesn’t put you in a powerful position to negotiate fees.
2. Align annual goals to monthly goals
For many speakers, annual goals are too big to be accomplished in a single month: Produce the next book, meet their annual revenue target, etc. However, the beginning of the month is a great time to check in on where you are this quarter/month towards those annual goals. Knowing your ‘delta’ allows you to know what activity needs to happen this month to reach those goals/get your business back on track.
Those could be as simple as number of words we need to write for the next book or the number of calls we need to make to reach our outreach goals.
And It’s Not All About Strategy
There are also monthly tasks a speaker can engage in that are client-facing and used properly, will drive deals in a pipeline faster than they would otherwise. These are tasks that may not warrant being repeated weekly or daily, but shouldn’t be neglected until once a quarter or once a year, either.
1. What commitments have I made to clients?
As a general rule, the needs of paying clients come before prospects. I take the time at the beginning of the month to look at what products I’ve promised my paying clients and ensure I have time on the calendar to deliver them on the timeline we’ve agreed upon.
2. Who’s buying a keynote this month?
As part of our buying process, if a decision maker can’t buy a keynote when we reach out, we make a note to get back in touch when they will be ready to choose a speaker. One of my monthly tasks is to get all the prospects I have who are slated to buy that month into a campaign that will drive extra hard for that sales meeting where I can demonstrate the value I’ll be able to provide to their audiences, exactly when they’re ready to choose a speaker.
3. Review LinkedIn views
With a pro-level account on LinkedIn, you can see the name or everyone who looked at your profile in the past. I make a note to review this list once a month and if someone who is in my pipeline checked out my profile, I generate a call to catch up with them. If I don’t have them in my pipeline and they’re obviously a qualified buyer, it’s an opportunity to grow the pipeline and get them into a campaign!
4. Miscellaneous monthly tasks
Ensure your calendar appointments are actually checked as ‘busy’ and ask if any research/pre-work needs to be done so you can make the most of the appointment and be intelligently informed on the person/their industry.
With a good start to your month it will be so much easier to know each week and each day that you’re moving your business forward in the right direction – by delivering the impact you’re passionate about and achieving the revenue to allow you to keep doing it.
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