My Q4 Business Plan

How I’ve used a blend of intuition and market desire to flow through 2021, and what I hope to bring out in my business and to my clients for the rest of the year.

Today, we are going under the hood. One of my brand pillars is radical transparency – and I know that my clients and audience appreciates it. I’ve always felt like there’s too much cloak and dagger when it comes to talking about business and plans and what’s being plotted. 

I’ll also be the first to say that this year, 2021, is NOT going as planned – even more so than 2020. 

I feel like 2020 had some knowns to it, where this year has felt a lot less solid and lot less predictable. 

For example, in 2020, I knew I was having a baby in the summer and that I wouldn’t be taking clients again until the end of September and even then, I’d only be working two days a week. 

Last year, I knew that I was heavily invested in education – I worked with a CEO mindset strategist and I was in two strategic masterminds to learn about ads and paid traffic (cuz I’m pretty good at the whole organic traffic thing already). 

But this year? It’s felt a bit like a dog’s breakfast. 

Let’s recap and bring us up to speed on how my business plan has unfolded so far.

Q1 – January to March

I didn’t have a plan in Q1, except HOLD ON and just keep swimming. (Like Dory!)  

I was deep in development on a course – The Simple Story Solution. 

I hired a course developer and a copy writer to help with that program. 

I also got a really great grant from NSBI to help with some of the costs. 

Also in Q1, I was working on completely revamping my brand with my new site and my new logo and branding. 

As this was going on, I was attempting to get a new Branded Production concept off the ground with a business partner. But it wasn’t hitting the mark. For some reason, we were having trouble articulating the value to clients and we’d take all these meetings and nothing would come of it. 

I hate when that happens. And when it does – it’s a sign that things are misaligned. 

It was A LOT to tackle all at once. And it was hugely exhausting. 

By March, I was in full burnout.

Safe to say, in Q1, I was very stuck INSIDE my business – which, even though I was attempting to grow a new branch of the business, translated into me not actually growing the way I wanted to.

Q2 – April to June

This is when I launched The Simple Story Solution using the Live Launch method. Essentially, I went live in my Facebook Group every day for four days straight and then invited attendees to work with me in the program for one month of VIP support. 

There was a lot about that launch that I would have changed. I’ll probably write another post about how I feel about launching. Cuz I have a lot of feelings about it. 

I happily enrolled 11 women into the program and I was chuffed by that. 

But (and this is a big but)… 

Once I got through the tumult of that, I realized I was in a place where I wasn’t in love with my business anymore. 

Not only that, but my burn rate (the amount of money needed just to keep the lights on in the business) was the highest it had ever been. And I knew it wasn’t sustainable if I wasn’t satisfied with what was happening in my business.

My mind wanted me to launch MORE things and to hustle harder, but my intuition was telling me to heed my divine feminine and slow down to assess what I really wanted. 

Here’s a piece of strategic advice – if you find that you are not in love with your business, that is NOT the time to make big changes to what you’re doing. 

So as Q2 came to a close, I went inward and simplified EVERYTHING. I canceled expensive subscriptions. I released some subcontractors from their duties. 

I scaled back my bottom line. 

I looked for pain points in my business that were exhausting me – like accounting, bookkeeping and my calendar. 

I hired a new accounting firm (who’s great by the way). I got real with my team about what I did and didn’t want to do… Like I NEVER want to book meetings – I’m terrible at it. I screw up time zones. And it stresses me out. 

But as I was going inward, I was also committing to slowly trying new things.

And when I say new things, I mean small things. Like getting up to write every day. Not a big thing. 

Or like saying yes to a new project that excites you but doesn’t fit within the purview of what you’ve been doing previously (for me that was Story Studio Network). 

In reality Q2’s plan was to follow my heart and my intuition. And it brought me great things. 

Q3- June to September

So here we are in the middle of Q3 and I finally feel like I know what I want to do. 

As I emerged from the internal work of the last few months, I’ve spent A LOT of the past six weeks simply LISTENING to the sounds and cues I’m getting from my business, my body and my clients. 

And then I acted based on my internal knowing and the desires of my people.

  • Story Studio Network now has two shows in production – including my single largest contract to date in my business EVER. Plus, my business partner is my Dad – which is literally a joy in my life. I have no fears over trust. I have no fears over not being honest. I have no concerns that things will go sideways. It’s actually the best way I could have ever brought the branded content production project to light.
  • I launched Stories for a Year and completely pivoted what I thought I’d be offering as a foundation in my business. Oh and this feels SO DAMN GOOD. I released the feeling that I had to always be selling High Ticket. I basically said ‘F**K it – people need my help. I’m going to sell this for less than the cost of a Starbucks Mocha Latte per week because that FEELS GOOD TO ME.” 
  • I scaled back the space I leave for 1:1 clients so I only work with SUPER aligned clients who want focused business strategy. I love my deep dive clients, but I had been in a place where I had too many and I felt like I didn’t own my time. Not only that, but a few had pushed contractual boundaries and not honouring my time. My biggest advice for people who offer 1:1 services is to honour your TIME because without that – you end up a bit in the hole and not feeling great. Scaling back to 2 spots at a time is a perfect balance for me. 

How I’m planning for the rest of the year

Full truth – I had planned to run a group program – like an in-depth, touch your Story and Soul group program. But something inside of me was hesitating. 

I LOVE helping people find their stories, but I wanted to do something DIFFERENT and I feel like I’m being called to serve on a different level – go back to basics a bit. 

That and I am leaning in heavily to the warm and fuzzy feelings I get from the people inside Stories for a Year. 

So here’s what I’m NOT going to do for the rest of the year. 

  • I’m no longer offering full VIP Days. 
  • I’m only taking two 1:1 clients at a time (this used to be four and I def already said this! haha!)
  • I’m NOT EVER working on Fridays 
  • Come September, my day will stop at 3:30 so I can pick up my kids from school

My Q4 Business Plan 

The fourth Quarter technically starts at the end of September, so my plan starts in about mid-September. I’m taking almost all of August off to go visit family and I’ll be in prep mode for the couple weeks upon our return. 

Here’s the plan. 

Running a couple of fun, flash sales

Oh – yes. I’m teaming up with a couple of amazing business women to combine our offers and put them out there at a great discounted rate. Why am I doing this? 

A sales coach would say it’s a cash injection – which it is, but it aligns with my desire to get really great guidance and content into the hands of more people who NEED IT and WANT IT. 

Watch for that coming super soon. 

Pinterest & Blogging Bootcamp

Part of my listening has led me back to where I started my consulting business. Did you know in 2019, ALL I DID was coach and consult people on how to leverage blogs and Pinterest? 

Yes. That was ALL I DID.

And inevitably, it always came back to telling a great story – but I ran TWO Masterminds called The Blog Academy in 2019 and into 2020. 

Both those Masterminds SOLD OUT. I can’t remember what I priced them at, but I think the first one was $1500 for a 12-week program and then I boosted the program content and raised the price to $2500 for a 12-week program the second time. 

Now I’m being called to do something similar again. I don’t think it’ll be $2500 though … I want it to be ACCESSIBLE. And because I’m better at facilitating groups now, I think it’ll be more like 8-weeks instead of 12. 

We have a waitlist started. Watch for news on that program soon. 

Stories for a Year

I never really ‘launched’ this program (see? I have a thing about launching); but as soon as I knew how much I loved this offer, I hired a funnel strategist to help me optimize it. 

I’ve been working with Hailey Dale from Your Content Empire for the past couple of months and she has been phenomenal. 

We will be putting the program on evergreen in September – which means we are going to launch some ads on Facebook, Instagram AND Pinterest that create greater interest in the program. 

We are also going to incrementally raise the price of the program as I add more value and content to it. 

I’m SO excited to get this into the world and into the hands of more people. Can you tell!?!

Story Studio Network Clients

We will be wrapping production on our second show by the end of September, so I’m not entirely sure what will be going on with this arm of the business in Q4 – but based on the number of conversations we are having, I’m sure we will have at least one more production under our belts by then. 

I’m really enjoying the process of learning how to talk about and sell this service (and this zone of genius of mine). It’s a completely different conversation than selling a 1:1 package or into a group program. The sales cycle is longer, but most of these clients pay in full and really show up to engage with us. 

My hope is that our next show will be one that pushes the editorial boundaries. 

I’d also like to get a real website into development. But the business needs a bit more cash flow and operating budget first. 

Our HOME projects

In September/October, we will be installing a NEW DECK on the house – and we are doing it in sponsorship with my client Home Hardware. 

If you recall, last year, we also did a huge kitchen renovation with them and it was such a lovely experience. (I’m not being facetious – it was as lovely as a renovation could be). 

This year, we are doing our deck – so I expect that will take up quite a bit of my time through the middle of the quarter. 

Financial goals?

Will I have my biggest year ever? I don’t know yet. And I actually don’t really care. 

I’m going to be on pace for where I was last year and my life feels balanced now. I’m excited to be showing up this way and to be doing projects and creating offers that light me up. I think that’s all that matters. 

The Rest of the Story is a project of love and commitment to showing up on this site every day for 90 days; sharing honest opinions, thoughts and observations. Comments are welcome.

Erin Trafford Incorporated is located on sacred land that has been the site of human activity for over 12,000 years. We are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People, and we acknowledge them as the past, present, and future caretakers of this  land.

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