Are you looking to change careers, take on a new venture, or just want to hit that reset button? Get valuable insights as The Simple Planning Specialist, Laura Posey of Simple Success Plans, shares tips on simplifying things and setting up your roadmap to success. Tune in and learn how planning not only get you to the best place you can be but it may be the one thing that can save your life.
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Planning For Success With Laura Posey
Our guest is Laura Posey. She is an internationally recognized speaker, author and consultant. She is known as The Simple Planning Specialist for her unique ability to simply and easily laser-focus her clients on getting dramatic results. Her simple, strategic plan is used by over 3,000 companies, from startups to Fortune 100.
Welcome, Laura. Thank you so much. I am so excited that you are here, but more importantly, I am so excited to share you with our community because you have some secret sauce. We did your bio, and that is sexy, but I want you to share your bad-ass lists like this is what makes more a bad-ass in our industry, and why should I listen to you?
I have helped over 3,000 business owners create one-page plans. I have a fantastic client that is number 61 on the Fortune 500 list. I have generated almost $750,000 from that one client.
Everybody wants a client like that.
My superpower is simplifying things. For whatever reason, I can condense things, get rid of all the crap, cut right to the heart of things and get crap done.
I bought your program because I am the same way. I am like, “How do I simplify?” You never know until you try. I love your energy, what you say, and your classes, so I am like, “Let me try this. Let me see how good this is.” It is good enough for your profit coach. It has got to be good enough for you. Let’s talk about it so people can see the value in it because we all have to write a business plan. Every year, you have to do a strategic plan and look at what worked and did not work. First, how did you get into the planning business? How did you decide this is my jam?
I came out of the sales training business. I sold lots of things, like cars and insurance. I used to sell Cutco knives door-to-door. I started a sales training business because that is what I knew how to do. Partway through my sales training business, I realized that I hated everything about it including my business partner, employees, office, and everything so I ran away from home. I went to Sedona for a week to meditate and figure out how I would get a corporate job again and ditch everything.
While I was there, I had a bit of a near-death experience. I realized I did not want a corporate job. I wanted to make this business work. The reason that I almost died was that I went on a hike without a map. I realized the reason my business was killing me was because I built a business without a map, so I started doing what I knew how to do.
That is a mic drop. I love how you made that correlation. You always have that a-ha moment like, “This is what I do in my business. I will go on a hike.”
I was like, “I know how to do this so I am going to wing it. It has gotten me this far.” When you are in corporate, there are a lot of safety nets around. You can wing it and not kill the company, but when you are the owner and you are winging it, you can kill a company real fast. If you do not kill a company, you will kill yourself. I was on the way to killing myself. It was bad.When you sit down and create a plan in a clear, logical, reasonable space, you decide where you will focus your time and energy. Click To Tweet
Literally and figuratively, if you go on no maps. That is such a great analogy. We think we know then we are in the woods going, “I do not know.” You can only wing it and pull it out of your high knee so far. You see it when businesses hit, even if it is $500,000 or $1 million, because a $1 million business is different than a $3 million. A $3 million is different than a $5 million. You can’t wing it and do it by yourself. You are not going to grow. Who do you serve? Who is your jam?
I like the small folks that want to be bigger and build that amazing lifestyle. We start our planning with like, “What kind of lifestyle do you want? What are all the things you want to do in your life? What is your bucket list? How much vacation do you want? How much time do you want to have off? What do you want to be doing in your life? How much is that going to cost?” My clients are often coaches, consultants, and people that are selling their knowledge. They want to be at a place where they are bringing in $250,000 a year to their personal bank account and they are happy.
They can work 20 to 30 hours a week and bring in $250. They are great and not trying to be a bazillion dollars or scale. Those folks, I speak their language because I am not that same person. I like having some big cash coming in and not stressing. I little known secret. Nine months out of the year, I only work three days a week.
The latest statistics is that 88% of small businesses are not profitable. Out of that 88% of businesses that are not profitable, 90% of them are not paying themselves what they are worth.
It is heartbreaking because, as we know, being a small business owner, you are carrying all the risk. You got crappy benefits. In healthcare, individual business owner is a tough hole. You are taking all the risk and you are putting everything on the line, and to not get paid for that? That is wrong.
Why is planning important?
If you are out there winging it, most business owners have wicked shiny object syndrome or opportunists at heart. That is why we started businesses. That is great for starting a business but it is terrible for running a business because you are constantly chasing new things, starting things, and not finishing them. If you do not finish them, they will not make any money.
When I sell a course or something, I tell people like, “If you do not use it, I guarantee it will not work.” You’ve got to finish it. You’ve got to do the whole course. It is the same thing in business. You have got to finish things. When you sit down and create a plan in a clear logical, reasonable space, you are deciding where you are going to focus your time and energy. By the same token, all of the things that you were going to choose to ignore. When you commit to putting those things on that plan, you are like, “This is what I am going to do this year,” and everything else is going to be a not now.
What do you start with? When I do it, I always start with my financial roadmap. Like you, I put all my vacations on my calendar. I do not know where I am going when I put them in there but I only know I am going somewhere. I think linear people get like, “I do not know where I am going.” Who cares? Put the time in there because your time gets sucked up and eaten up. What do you start with when you are looking at the plan?
We start looking three years out, and then we look one year out. We are specific about the goals that folks have. We have people set goals around what we call the Four Entrepreneurial Freedoms, which is time, money, location, and emotion. We always start with the time piece because that is the most limited resource that you have. How much free time do you want this year? Not only the vacation piece but how much do you want to work? How many days do you want? 3 or 4 days a week? How many hours during those days do you want to work?
Let’s set that first, then decide how much money you want to make, then decide where you want to work because, as an entrepreneur, you have location freedom. If you want to work from an RV in the middle of a state park, let’s decide that now so we can figure out how to make it happen. Do you want to build a brand-new home office like, “Next year, I am going to put a second story on this house that I bought and move my office upstairs because I like to work in the trees.”
The interesting thing when you say that is, from the location standpoint, I am still trapped at my office. I know I can work anywhere, but I have my set-up. I am putting my own constraint on myself. There is the opportunity to be able to go, “I could be anywhere. It is okay.” I think that ties to the emotion of, “Is it okay? I do not know,” because I am such a slave, in the past, to my job. I realized with all the pandemic and the shutdown, and it is like, “You do not have to stay at this desk, Susie.”
What happens is we think that our clients have expectations of what things are going to look like, feel like, and how we are going to show up. What is interesting is you get to set those expectations and tell your clients what they can expect from you. When you set out and show them what freedom looks like and you go, “This is what it looks like to work from the beach or from a hut in Bali. This is what it looks like to not have to do full hair and makeup, and still be the authority.” They go, “That is what I want to.” You can set that expectation of what they are going to get when they engage with you. That is why I think it is important to say like, “Where am I going to work from this year?” I can tell you, “This coming year, I will go on a relationship road trip.”
What is that?
I made it up. I bought this super sexy car that I love to drive. It is an Outback Wilderness. It is super off-road, but I can sleep in the back of it if I want. I love to camp, and it is a great camping car. I have clients all over the US and Canada, and I have enough people who work for me that I have never met in person, so I am mapping out a three-month route around the country to go visit people.
I am going on the road for three months and meeting people I have never met. I am going to go hang out with clients and colleagues that I have not seen in a long time and, along the way, stop hiking in lots of national parks and see things that I have never seen around the US and Canada, which are my locations for this relationship road trip.
We have time and money, so in your planning around money, let’s talk about that.
I look at two kinds of money. There are sales like, “What am I going to sell?” That is something you have direct control over. The second piece is personal income. I am a big fan of the profit-first system. It is like, “What am I going to sell minus what I am going to make? That is what I have left to run the company on.”The reset does not necessarily have to be big or better. The reset can be, “I want to make the same amount of money and take more time off.” Click To Tweet
There are some other things in there but instead of going, “Here is what I am going to sell. Here is everything I am going to spend on the company, and I get what is left.” Decide ahead of time how much money you are going to make. If your business is going to sell $300,000 and you want to make $250,000, you’ve got to run your company on $50,000. That is perfectly doable. If you make that decision ahead of time, then you make decisions along the year that stay within those constraints.
I had a vendor who managed my website and did maintenance. He is like, “If you pay for the year, it will be cheaper.” I am like, “If I pay for the year now, you cut into my profitability, so I am not paying for the year.” It is the decision. What is more important to me is my profitability versus I am going to save $1,000.
Somebody was doing a big Black Friday Sale, and it was 5% off if you paid for the year. I am like, “You obviously do not understand how that works because 5% is not enough to get anybody excited about anything.”
On the flip side, sometimes we give so much. We did that with our book launch in the beginning. It was like, “Why do you have to give so much of the book so valuable?” “I do not know. That is what my coach said to do.” Sometimes it does not make sense, so stop and think. That is the power of a plan to stop and think.
When you run the numbers, stop and think, is that sell profitable? A lot of people are doing the sales but they are not making profit on it. They are losing money. Sometimes it makes sense to lose money. There are lost leaders in business, but a lot of times, it does not make sense. You do not even know because you are not running the numbers, and you are like, “I am going to get some sales,” but it will be lost money.
That gets back to the time thing as well. What do you value your time at? If you do not know what you value your time at, you may think you are being profitable. It is like, “I saw all these coaching programs.” It is like, “Now you are stuck at your desk forever.” You have backed yourself into 30 hours of one-on-one coaching. You guys show up 30 hours every week to get paid. That is a job.
How many of you feel like Laura is punching you in the face? That is good. Sometimes you need that smack like, “Snap out of it.”
There are so many other models and other ways to do things. I live in Virginia. If I want to go to California, there is a whole bunch of ways I can get to California, and I need to think about, “How much time do I want to spend getting to California? How much money do I want to spend? What kind of experience do I want to have?” Some people may go, “I want to drive, camp, and see things.”
Other people are like, “Screwed up. Put me in a first-class seat. Fly my butt there.” Other people are like, “No, private jet. I do not want anybody else but me in that plane. I want to get there super-fast. None of this goes into the airport crap and waiting in line with TSA and all that stuff.” They will all get you to the same place but you got to know what the place is.
I did that. I took six weeks because I found out that the business was not fun. We are making money. Who cares? I think this is the emotion part. I was like, “This is not fun. I am working too much. I am too old now to not have the quality of life I have earned.” Nobody is doing it to me but me. My epiphany is like, “Nobody is making you do this. You are doing it. Why?” Let’s look at why you are doing it. I think that is juicy. Let’s talk about the emotion because as your business grows, the assessment of it is, “Is it fun? Is it doing what I want for my lifestyle?” I am assuming that is what you are talking about with emotion.
It is powerful to define the emotion that you want to have for the year. Think about some years are all about fun like, “I want to have a great time.” Some years are about stretching and challenging yourself. It is like, “I have had fun and chilling. This has been great, but I want to stretch, experiment, try something new, and be curious.” Going into the year, thinking about, “What is this year about for me?” Maybe it is relaxing or taking your foot off the gas but getting clear about, “How do I want to feel?” Again, these are all constraints that we are putting in place. We are saying, “I want this much time and this much money. I want to work in this location and feel this way.” Now we know what we have to build, what we have to do, and what we have to change to satisfy all of those conditions.
I do not know if you folks feel like I feel. There is a little knot in my stomach like, “What? Make me a priority? I am so used to putting Laura first and taking care of clients. I am so used to drive.” It is because as a young entrepreneur, you are driving to hit a goal, and then you are like, “I hit the goal but I hate every December.” Every January 1st, it is a reset. It does not matter what you did last year. Financially, you are resetting. Unless you have a continuation program, which a lot of people do not because they are building their business. It is like, “If you are already resetting, let’s get clear on the reset.”
The reset does not necessarily have to be big or better. The reset can be, “I want to make the same amount of money and take more time off. I want to make the same amount of money as I made last year. I want to have every single Friday off, no matter what. Bar none, nobody can talk to me on Friday. I get a three-day weekend every single week.” That is great. That is changed, progress and growth. It does not always have to be, “Squeeze more money out of it,” because we get to a place where it is like, “I’ve got the money thing sorted.”
You can only make so much money and you are like, “What is next?” You do keep changing golden egg, but what do you need it for? What are you using it for? What are you planning for? Is it going to make that big a difference for another $100,000 or $200,000 if you are already making a great living?
What are you missing out on for that? I can see that if I tell this story, I will tear up a little bit. My partner passed away from pancreatic cancer. I will go to my grave swearing that it was from overworking. She had a great job where she had time. When we met, we had so much fun, and then she took this next job that was super challenging, sucked the life out of her literally, and ground her down to nothing. When you have an experience and you watch somebody go through something like that, you go, “You are going to miss out on your grandkids for a job?”
I do not know if you have read Louise Hay’s stuff, but she talks about cancer is a lack of joy in your life. I am aligned with that. Thank you for sharing that. I think it is powerful to question. I love the a-ha’s and the inquiry into it because that is where change occurs, especially when you get to a certain level in business.
Who is coaching the coach? Who is holding you accountable for what you say you want? I always have to have somebody in my corner that is not attached to my job but they are committed to me and my growth that time, money, location, and emotion are the goal. A lot of people do that with fitness. “You say you want this but you are eating Ding Dongs.” I do not even know if they make Ding Dongs anymore.
We say all the time that coaches need coaches. I hired a health coach. It is not that I do not know what to do. I have a million excuses for not doing it. I hired a health coach during the busiest time of my year. I was talking to a friend of mine and I was like, “I am going to do it after my busy season.” She is like, “What excuse are you going to have then?” I was like, “You are right. I will come up with something else.” I then will be like, “It is springtime. I am going to be outside. I will come up with something.”When all hell breaks loose, don't change your goals. Change your tactics. Click To Tweet
Let’s talk about the busiest season. There are so many people who have been struggling with the economy and the pandemic. I always say, “There is always a pandemic or something, whether it is depression, recession, financial collapse, or health collapse.” What has been your secret sauce to stay in action and keep growing?
I will go back to a mantra that we have which is when all hell breaks loose, do not change your goals, but change your tactics. Looking at I still have these goals. I still have these things I do not want to accomplish. Given this new set of circumstances, what do I have to change to still stay on track for those goals? It is something that we have been doing with all of our clients.
They all set plans in January of 2020 and then by March 2020, when everything was nuts, we had to rework everything with them. Coming around in 2022, it has been like, “Now we are half in and half out. Can I plan live events? Can I not?” There has been so much uncertainty. We have said, “Why don’t we rebuild your business in a way that it is not dependent on all of this outside stuff?” Should this happen again, you are good. If Omicron takes over, we are all locked down again but things are still humming along for you.
You have shared a couple of them. There has been the biggest challenge in your life, from the near-death experience to the loss of a partner. I always believed that I never liked those failures. I never want to talk about it but they have helped me grow. In business, what has been one of your biggest failures and what did you learn from it?
Probably hiring the wrong people. It got in my head that I needed to hire people to grow but it was from an ego standpoint, not from a need standpoint. I will give you an example. I decided I needed an assistant, and I did. I did not need a full-time assistant. I was like, “I am doing well. I should have a full-time assistant.” I went out and basically brought a salary on board. and I wanted somebody good, so I brought a big salary on board.
I was like, “I want to do the teaching stuff so I am going to go hire a sales person.” I started putting all these people on my payroll and that was completely stupid because now, I’ve got to feed everybody else before I get paid. Now I am getting the leftovers. I am like, “I am taking all the risk here.” It was soul crushing. It was awful because I liked them. They are great people. They are still friends of mine. It sucks to sit down with people you love and go, “You do not have a job anymore because I cannot afford you.”
It is brutal to have to do that. I have learned to hire people for projects. I hire people as contractors. If I hired them as a contractor, I make sure I am their number one client. It is like, “You can have as many other clients as you want but I am number one.” I am willing to be the one that pays you more, sends you Christmas stuff or whatever. I am willing to be as flexible as you need. I will always pay you the day your invoice comes in, but I need to be number one.
Let’s look at the end of your life. What do you want to be remembered for?
Asking good questions.
You are a little provoking and thought-provoking. You are scratched in. Some people feel like you picked off their scab, but I think it is good. That is a good coach. I used to think a good coach was, “I’ve got to tell you what to do. The answer is in the question. Not me having it all, being at all.”
I want people to look back and go, “We had some of the most amazing conversations because she asked questions that made me think in a different way and look at the world in a way that I had not seen before.”
How do people find you? Let’s talk about your software because that is important for people to get access to you and find you when you are not traveling or when you are working versus traveling. I can’t wait to see the journey.
I am an email girl. You can always email me, Laura@SimpleSuccessPlans.com. Everything I have is on my website. We have got some good free downloads and free resources. We recommend different products and software for people because I have tried everything under the sun. It is like, “Let me tell you what works.” Skip the whole trial and error stuff. I have done all that work for you. That is SimpleSuccessPlans.com. Everything is there. We have got a great daily success checklist that people can download there. That is the best way.
Thank you for your time and generosity. Again, I appreciate you, the wisdom, your vulnerability, your transparency, and the power of planning. If you walk away with any frame from this one, it is plan your life and make you the priority first. Thank you for that reminder. As I go into 2022 looking at what are we going to do differently, and how does this become more fun and put me in the front versus me in the back?
You are the leader. You get paid more and you get to eat first.
Thank you. Have a blessed day. I look forward to watching your journey for your relationship tour.
It is going to be fun.
Thank you, Laura.
- Laura Posey
About Laura Posey
Laura Posey is an internationally-recognized speaker, author and consultant.
She is known as The Simple Planning Specialist for her unique ability to simply and easily laser focus her clients to get dramatic results.
Her Simple Strategic Plan is used by over 3000 companies from startups to Fortune 100.