39: How to Strategically Plan For Growth So That Your Business Can Thrive

business entrepreneur finances how to scale your business increase profits podcast Apr 16, 2024
How to Strategically Plan For Growth So That Your Business Can Thrive

Step into the world of financial clarity with growth strategist, Leandra Nisbet. This episode is a lifeline for entrepreneurs tangled in pricing and strategic planning. Leandra distills her expertise into powerful, bite-sized advice, giving you the tools to confidently manage and grow your business finances. Tune in and turn financial chaos into calculated success!

Topics Covered:
  • The importance of finances in entrepreneurial growth and planning.
  • Challenges faced by entrepreneurs when it comes to financial decision-making and pricing strategies.
  • Leandra’s three-part framework for strategic financial planning.
  • The significance of identifying your target audience and providing value that meets their specific needs.
  • The necessity of developing a data-driven pricing strategy.
  • The importance of having a structured financial and business operation plan.
Are you an entrepreneur struggling with your finances or uncertain about how to create a plan for sustainable growth?
For more information on how to tackle financial challenges head-on and set the course for a profitable future, check out these resources:
Join Financial Freedom Bootcamp: https://lydiamartin.info/ffbootcamp
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Lydia: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the Launch Perspective podcast. I am super excited about our guest today because we're going to be chatting a little bit about finances. And finances can be a thing that feels so overwhelming if you're an entrepreneur or an online business owner. I remember kind of just guessing on what I was supposed to be doing with my finances when I started my first business. And thankfully I have had the opportunity to connect with some amazing people who have taught me so much about how to optimize my finances and plan better for growth. And that is what our guest is going to help us with today.

So, I'll tell you a little bit about her and then I'll have her come on with us. But Leandra and I actually met because she was one of the students in my Digital Clutter Cure program many years ago. And I am so honored and excited to have her currently in my Ignite membership. She is just an amazing person who helps so many others get clarity on finances in their business strategy. She's actually a business advisor and growth strategist. And so, she launched her business Stingray Advisory Group ten years ago. Originally all in person and of course now does so much more online. And I am absolutely thrilled to introduce you all to her. So, Leandra, thanks so much for joining us today on Launch Perspective.

Leandra: Oh, you're so welcome. Thank you for having me, Lydia. Very happy to be here.

Lydia: It is. It's so much fun because we've been connected for so long. And I personally have really enjoyed watching your journey.

Leandra: Thank you.

Lydia: I know you've been in business for a long time as many others who have started kind of Brick-and-Mortar type businesses back, you know, years ago, but now you're going into the digital space. And I will tell you in the years I've known you, it's been so exciting to watch all of the things that you've created for entrepreneurs. So, I'm excited to introduce everybody to you today.

Leandra: Well, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Lydia: So, I would love to know what kind of sparked the whole creation of Stingray Advisory Group and how did you come up with that name? Very curious.

Leandra: Oh, good question. So, I was originally, I have a background in Banking and Finance as well as Sales and Leadership. And when I was in a corporate role, I had actually been working through college and it was one of those things where I was trying to figure out what was next for me. There had been a lot of transition in the industry and the corporation that I was a part of, and I knew I could be doing more than I was.

It was kind of losing a little bit of that spark and the culture just wasn't a great fit anymore. And so, from there I was talking to a mentor one day and he asked me, have you ever thought about owning your own business? And I laughed at him in the moment, not because what I thought he said was funny, but because when I originally went to college, my goal was to have my own advertising agency.

So, at that point I wanted my own ad firm, I could just see myself in my desk in my little, you know, my little like pinstripe suit or whatever. And it was just one of those things that I had lost sight of over time. And so, when he said that it immediately reignited that spark and to say, well, yeah, let me think about that. Maybe I don't need to be thinking about what is the next job for me. But what can I create for myself?

And so, it was an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and to start to say what skills and passions and talents do I have that I can leverage into creating my own company, my own brand and a culture that I can be proud of. And so that's where we are today.

Lydia: And I love that story because I'm always wanting to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs because I've been there too, right? I spent years dreaming about launching my own business and you almost do laugh like I'll never be able to do that. Like it sounds so hard and overwhelming, and you know, what would I create? And I have so many ideas. And so, I love that you had that similar journey and really took that leap of faith and went for it. So, I hope other entrepreneurs are like, I'm just starting, I don't know if this is for me. It was so worth it, right? To make that decision and to work for yourself.

Leandra: Absolutely. Absolutely. I wouldn't go back.

Lydia: No. And so I would love to hear. So, over the last ten years, I'm sure some things have changed. I know you're working probably with a lot of in-person people for a long time. So, what kind of brought you more into the digital world and thinking about teaching people online?

Leandra: Yeah. Definitely with when we started the business, it was much more in person. We still have that segment of our business. So, that's definitely a huge part of how we serve and support our clients. But I would say probably slightly before the pandemic onset. It was one of those things where we started working with more clients outside of our geographic footprint. And so, it was a necessity. That was the only way to connect with our clients. I mean, we had a client in Washington state. We weren't flying out to her office every time that we needed to connect. So, it was just something where we started incorporating more technology into how we were serving and supporting.

I love technology personally. So, I'm never opposed to trying a new platform or software or something to streamline and be more efficient. So, from that standpoint, I wasn't concerned with that. I actually embraced it. Definitely throughout the pandemic, there was a need that we identified and being able to say, how can we expand what we're doing, provide more cost effective, approachable, accessible resources and support to people even outside of our geographic area? So, that's why we decided to move forward and start branching out into the digital space as well.

Lydia: So, what kind of support do you mostly focus on? Because I know a lot of entrepreneurs that I work with feel a little muddled in the financial space. As they know they're supposed to probably be tracking some key metrics in their business. They're making all these decisions about where to spend their money. And so, what do you feel, like, are the biggest struggles entrepreneurs have that you and your team are kind of helping them with?

Leandra: I would say some of the common challenges that come up are around knowing how to make decisions within their business based on their numbers and actual data, as opposed to just gut instinct. That's a very common challenge. So, sometimes it's just like, well, you know, this worked before, or I think this might work, or I think we should try this. There isn't really a lot to justify or substantiate the decision, which I think can be a huge challenge to really moving forward the right way and consistent growth.

Also feeling like you need to be spread a bit too thin and not even knowing really where to start. You know, we get a little bit lost sometimes with, well, I don't know which bookkeeping platform to use so I'll just stick with my spreadsheets. Or I'm not really sure how to best move forward with, you know, pricing so I know what my competitors are pricing at. So, we'll just say, like, that's what will work for me too. And not really being fully informed with how they're making decisions within their own businesses.

Lydia: It's kind of like that spaghetti on the wall. Throw some spaghetti on the wall and kind of see what sticks. But the other thing I loved about what you said is I heard someone say one time, it's about the data, not the drama.

Leandra: Yes.

Lydia: Right? Because a lot of times we make decisions based on our emotions, which can sometimes be the worst thing you can do. Right? Because you might think something's good or something's bad, but really, what is the data that supports what's working and what's not? And often people don't know what numbers to even look at. What should they be considering? So, yes, I absolutely love that.

I mean truthfully, I had my own home-based business for twenty years before I went into what I'm doing now. And my method for finances for many years was throw receipts in a shoe box and just pray that April 15th never comes. It was always just push it away, deal with it later and then every April 15th I would just be a basket case. And so, I just for so long was in that survival mode.

And I think a lot of entrepreneurs they're in survival mode. They feel like they're doing so much, and they never take the time to figure out their bookkeeping, figure out the numbers they should be tracking. And so, I am such a proponent for coming alongside people who can support you in that journey. I mean, if I had not had my QuickBooks assistant help me, to this day, I probably would still not have a plan for my taxes.

And I know you're a QuickBooks expert as well. So, do you find this happens sometimes with entrepreneurs? They're coming to you and you're like, I have no system. And that is kind of something that you help them with.

Leandra: Yes, absolutely. I would say one of the biggest things that I always say is that most business owners go into business to do what they love and are passionate about, not necessarily to run a business. So, once we get into it and it's like, oh, I still have all this other stuff to do. I have to market this, and I need to keep up with my books, and I need to find new clients, and I need to do all the things. I need to be IT.

And really all you wanted to do is, you know, make your product or your widget or your service. And then it's like, oh, now what? So, that's very common that we'll have clients reach out. And it's really more of a, I'm not even sure where to start. I need to kind of unravel these things. I just know something can be better than what I'm doing right now. So, we really walk alongside them to help guide them, to help streamline processes and operations, to make things more approachable and understandable so that it's not so daunting to just run a business.

Lydia: It's so true. And so, I always believe in coming alongside people to do what they do well, so you can do what you love. So, that is awesome. And so, today's topic specifically is all about creating that strategic plan for growth, right? Because if we don't plan, we're not going to necessarily reach our revenue goals or our business goals or personal goals.

And so, I know you kind of have a three-part process that you work through with clients and your members. And so, I would love to hear more about that. What are the three kinds of focuses that you think entrepreneurs should have?

Leandra: Yeah, absolutely. So, the first part of the framework is looking at the people. And so, what does that mean? We look at this from a perspective of first identifying who are you trying to serve and support with your offerings? I think one common challenge that happens, especially with early-stage entrepreneurs and small business owners is thinking, well, I can be everything to everyone. When I asked them, you know, who's your ideal client or who are you trying to serve? Well, anybody. Anybody could buy this. And that really can set you up in the long run for additional challenges.

Being more targeted is actually more beneficial. So, being able to identify who is your perfect person, who are you trying to serve? You might hear this referred to as, you know, a buyer persona or a customer avatar, a client avatar. And being able to work through who you are actually trying to serve, what their pain points and challenges are, and how you're going to be able to best serve them and meet them where they are. So, there are several things that go into that.

But also thinking about the people that you have to support you as you are moving forward. As we were just talking about it's very hard, as you grow and scale, to do everything in your business. As we're getting started, it's very common that we are all wearing multiple hats. I've been there. I know that and understand that very, very well. But thinking strategically to be proactive to say, well, what are my strengths and weaknesses? Where are the gaps in my operations? What do I want to be working toward so that I can set appropriate goals and be having the framework and the foundation to get me there?

For example, one thing might be being able to pay yourself out of your own business. You know, what steps do I need to be taking to make sure that I'm able to reach a point where I can actually pay myself and see a return out of this business? So, definitely the first part of the framework is looking at the people, both that you're looking to serve and that will help serve and support you within your business as you're moving forward.

Lydia: Yes. And I do think that it is a process. Right? I remember learning a lot about figuring out who I wanted to serve. And in the beginning I  thought it was one group of people and it changed over time. And so, I still serve a lot of the same entrepreneurs that I served in the beginning when I was very focused on helping people with digital systems and digital clutter. But over time I just fell so in love with helping people build online businesses. So, I love what you're saying.

And I think it's something that people have to revisit, right? Because so many times what we're doing changes. And so, your ideal person that you're serving kind of morphs and changes I find. And so, for anybody that's struggling, like, I can never think of who that really is. It does come together. You get clarity I feel like as you build your business. So, I love that because I agree. I mean, if you know who you're serving, it definitely makes a huge difference in knowing what content to create and what you're going to focus on in your business. So, love that. So, people then are step one, and then what's the next one?

Leandra: So, the second part of the framework is pricing. And this is also a key area where sometimes people will get hung up. So, as I mentioned before, potentially looking at your competitors as the only option to determine how to price your own offerings can lead you down the wrong path. Because you have no idea what all is going into them creating their offering. So, you don't know how much overhead costs they have, how much labor is going into it, how much they're taking out of those offers, or even what materials go into them. So, you really need to be conscientious of what you're offering and what your audience will accept.

And so, some of that is really just math at the end of the day, being able to say, what is it costing me to produce this offer? And then how can I make sure that it's profitable? Which is really the biggest thing that you want to be thinking about at the end of the day is am I actually getting a return on this? Worst case scenario, you're pricing based on a competitor or again, just a gut instinct or almost, I guess, worse is what a client told you they will pay without factoring in anything else into what you're doing.

And then potentially you could end up seeing that you're actually losing money on an offer. So really being strategic to take the time upfront. And again, to your point, Lydia, this is something to review and revisit. Because as we see throughout the pandemic and with economic shifts and changes, the price of goods and services, the price of labor, all of those things will continue to change and shift. So, it's really not a one and done approach either. It's very important to be regularly reviewing what's going into pricing your offer and are you actually seeing the return that you're looking for. And making sure that that is something that you're making adjustments to as needed.

Lydia: That is so wise because you're right. I don't feel it's a one and done either. And I think sometimes people have the expectation I'm going to build this course one time. I'm going to price it, and I'm just going to sell it over and over and over. And I have found that often the offer needs to be tweaked with the times, right? People are resonating with different things. I mean, I launched my business in 2020 when a lot of people were home and bored and had nothing to do. And my messaging was very different then than it is today when people are extremely busy.  Finances and economics seem a little bit more challenging right now.

And so, it's always thinking through your messaging, your pricing, your offer. What do we need to tweak and improve to meet the needs of the people today? It really is not a one and done. All right. So, we have people, we have pricing, and then what is your third part of that framework?

Leandra: Yes, the third part of the framework is planning. And within that, it's really looking at how are you being strategic as you move forward and as you are moving forward in your operations. So for example, do you have a plan for managing your numbers? Do you have a system? And while I do appreciate and recommend using a bookkeeping platform. That's not the only way.

So, what I will tell a client is what can you actually realistically commit to and what will work for you? Again, that may change over time. So, you may start using something as simple as, you know, a Google sheet or an Excel document. Whatever you will consistently keep up with is fine. And then you can always grow and scale as your business needs change. But knowing how you're going to manage your numbers, having a plan for regularly and consistently engaging with your target audience, the people that we've talked about before. Looking at how you're going to plan for the growth and have consistency around reviewing numbers, reviewing metrics, looking at the growth of your business, changing finances, expenses, all of the moving parts of a business.

I find that if you have a structure around that, and that's not just because I'm a Type A personality and I really like structure and detail. But really there is benefit to having consistency around checking in with your business, checking in with your numbers, checking in with yourself. And seeing how things are performing, what's working well, what tweaks do you need to make and how are you able to adapt because of changes that may be happening with you personally, within your business or your team, and even outside of your business. And external factors and influences that are shifting and shaping the way that we're all operating, and that people are doing business.

Lydia: I love it. And just like you said, I started with a spreadsheet and eventually outgrew that and decided to go to an accounting software. And I mean, truthfully, I remember the pain of like learning that new thing. Right? And so, I know it's always like, oh my gosh, I don't want to learn this new accounting software or figure all this out. But I'm just here to say it's so worth it. Once you have created a system you stick with, to know exactly where things go, to know exactly where to get your information. It brings so much peace and clarity that is so worth any struggle and effort, I feel to get this in place.

So, I love that you shared that. And I know that you just launched recently a membership that helps people in this area, which I love because our Ignite membership, you know, it's just getting ready to celebrate its first year. And so, I love that you have implemented this new membership called Enlighten. So, will you please share with everybody a little bit about your new membership and how it supports people in this?

Leandra: Sure. So yes, our new membership is called Enlighten. And the entire premise is really being able to distill down what we're doing with our one-on-one and done-for-you clients to be able to serve and support small business owners, course creators, and entrepreneurs who are looking to have more insights and clarity but not just around their numbers. Because what we're doing with our clients is helping them with business growth and strategy, we're bringing all of that into the membership community.

So, within Enlighten what we're providing our members is opportunity to engage with me and our team of experts, being able to have master classes. We're bringing in guest speakers on a variety of topics. Last month we had a topic around optimizing your website. And so cost-effective resources and ways that you can position your business, your brand and your messaging.

Being able to look at tech support, which is a huge challenge and something that sometimes deters people as you are looking at getting up and running with something like QuickBooks or Zoho Books. So, being able to come into our office hours and Voxer and different things to get questions answered that you have that might be hanging you up, whether it's with regards to your finance, overall growth, or strategy. So that you can have that expert support as well as the community to help you move forward with your goals and initiatives.

Lydia: I love that because I feel like this is one of those areas where when you're just doing it all alone you just feel so paralyzed sometimes. You know, you get stuck with a tech question, stuck with a system. I remember setting up chart of accounts in QuickBooks, and I thought, shoot me now. And before I knew it, I was like, okay, I'm getting it. I'm getting it. But having a place where you can go and, like, filter through some of those more challenging questions with experts, I just feel like it's so valuable. So, I love that you are offering that membership. So very exciting, Leandra.

Leandra: Thank you. Thank you so much.

Lydia: Well, I will just encourage everybody if, you know, finances is one of the areas of your business where you feel a little lost or you feel like you're struggling a little bit. There are amazing experts out there like Leandra. Amazing resources like her Enlighten membership or Enlighten, which is an awesome word.

And I do want to ask because I didn't get back to this question. What created the name Stingray Advisory Group? Where did that come from? I am so curious.

Leandra: Sure. So, Stingray Advisory Group. There’re three reasons that I picked this name. So first, one of the specialty and core niche areas of our business is around helping businesses with risk management. So, as they are looking at their finances and being able to look at potential risks and concerns within the business, helping them mitigate those and be really proactive in how they approach handling their operations.

So, if you think of the animal, the stingray, it's kind of normally under the surface, slightly undetected right under the water. And so, it was a play on that. The second part of it is that it has name recognition. So, if you're a car person, you probably think of a Corvette, the Stingray model.

And then also it's something that I thought was just attention grabbing. It's something that you don't hear a lot. It's something that will get people to ask the question and lean in. So, from a marketing and branding perspective, it was something that wasn't common and it just stood out and encouraged people to start a conversation.

Lydia: I love it. My sister is a Corvette fanatic and her husband. So that is awesome. It was wonderful to have you on the show Leandra. Thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom with us. Thanks for being on here. Again, it has been really exciting to watch your journey. I love that you are supporting entrepreneurs like yourself gain expertise in this area of finances. Because it really is potential for business growth, understanding all of your numbers and understanding who you serve and how you can best serve them, pricing those offers. Everything that you shared, I know is going to be helpful for them. So, thanks so much for joining us.

Leandra: You're welcome. Thank you so much for having me, Lydia. I appreciate it.

Lydia: Awesome. If you'd like any more information, be sure to check the show notes below. There are some resources down there where you can learn more about Leandra, Stingray Advisory Group, and of course the different resources we talked about today. Thanks so much, and we'll see you on the next episode.

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