Approach Your Communication Strategy Like a Business Plan: #Blog4Biz Day 29

"Write the vision, make it plain" ~Habakkuk

"Clear language precedes clear thought" ~Immanuel Kant

"Begin with the end in mind" ~Steven Covey

"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others" ~Jonathan Swift

"A business plan forces you to convert your idea into an actual blueprint..." James Carden

All of these quotes emphasize the importance of having a vision and writing it down. The business plan is the written vision and road map to success of any business. The executive summary of a business plan is the short answer to the "who", "what", "when", "where", "why" and "how" of any business or project. It is tailored to a specific audience.

Today's #blog4biz challenge asked us to write or rewrite the executive summary of our business plan. This is a challenging task for several reasons. Although it is the short answer, it is often the hardest to write. So much so, that some business plan coaches, templates, and advisors recommend writing the executive summary last.

Instead of copying and pasting my executive summary here. I am going to show you how to write your own business plan for your personal communication success. 

One of the services I offer my coaching clients at BRAVE Communication LLC is individual communication strategies ideation. Ideation is a new buzz word for "brainstorming" or "idea creation". I help you identify the  "who", "what", "when", "where", "why" and "how" of a communication issue to come up with the best strategies for executing your plan. 

So let's begin.

There are usually 9 fundamental questions the executive summary asks about a business. 
1. Who are you?
2. What do you do?
3. Who do you serve?
4. Is there a market for it?
5. Can you do it?
6. Will your market pay for it?
7. What assets do you need?
8.What will those assets cost?
9. How will you pay for those assets?

These 9 questions correlate nicely to your communication skills strategy.

1. Who are you? Communication conflicts can arise when the people involved don't understand who they are or how they are supposed to relate to another. Instead of focusing on personal identity--what I stand for--most try to answer who am to you. The latter is an easier question. But it is effective.
Think about this question this way. Who are you at your core and how can you honor that person in the way you communicate with others?

2. What do you do? Most people answer this question with a job title. "My name is Joe and I am the maintenance supervisor". This tells me nothing about what you do. Think in terms of the function you play on a team. As maintenance supervisor, what does Joe do? He assists the maintenance staff in finding the motivation, tools, and resources needed to do their assignments.

3. Who do you serve? I love this question but it makes a huge assumption that I don't want you to miss. The assumption is that you know you are a servant. There has been plenty written on the "servant leader" style of managing people but that doesn't mean you've embraced it. You serve those around you whether at work or at home. As Americans we have a hard time with this concept because we have so much experience with oppression. We are scared to fully embrace our roles as servants to each other. Joe, the maintenance supervisor serves his staff. He serves his leaders. He serves the customers or patrons who use the facilities he maintains. He also serves himself.  As such our communication strategy has to be one that serves everyone.

4. Is there a market for your services? Absolutely! No job posting is titled "poor communicators wanted". The market is ripe for good communicators. Of the top reasons couples divorce, poor communication (ie arguing, infidelity, unrealistic expectations, broken trust) proves this point. These same problems exist in work relationships too. We are desperately in need for your service as a good communicator.

5. Can you do it? This question alludes to three things: ability, skill, and willingness. This is were I come in as a Communication consultant. The good news is we all have within us the in the ability to be be good communicators. What we may lack is skill. We only know the techniques we have seen or practiced ourselves. We don't know what we don't know. I teach you what you need to know. And do it in a way that empowers your willingness to do it.

6. Will your market pay for it? In other words, what will those you serve pay for your communication aptitude? Here is an interesting fact. Those you serve are already paying for your communication mishaps. They are paying with tension, turnover, and distrust. You can change that so those you serve pay in loyalty, productivity, and cooperation.

7. What assets do you need? This is where we take an inventory of what you have and what you don't. All of us have communication strengths. I help you identify yours and then fill in the gaps. One way to determine what you need is by listening to the feedback you get from others. Do people say your stubborn? Do they say you don't listen? Do they say you are sneaky?

8. What will those assets cost you? What price are you paying for your poor communication habits? What price do you think you'll pay by improving them? Which are you willing to pay for in the long run?

9. How will you pay for those assets? List specific ways you will pay for being a poor communicator. Loss of revenue? Turnover? Estrangement of a loved one? 

One of the best things I ever did for my business was get a business coach. Yes, there are lots of online tools and resources for growing a business. But there is nothing like having a real person I can call to ask specific questions about me and my situation. I can only get so far with generic information. I want and need personal attention.

Every communication issue is different that is why you need a coach/consultant. Just like in a business plan, when it is time to formulate your communication strategy, the detailed answers to these questions have to be answered. You have to consider your audience and tailor it specifically to them. Once we do the work of flushing out the "who", "what", "when", "where", "why" and "how" of your individual communication strategy, you can easily write the vision, know where you are going, know when you arrived, and can measure when you succeed.

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