Do you have a strong, detailed plan in place for your business? Have you planned ahead, knowing what your end of year goals are? Don’t worry if you haven’t quite got the plan worked out – help is at hand! The guidelines in this article should give you more clarity.
Many small business owners can be a bit reactive when it comes to deciding what to do next. We tend to look at the short term and what’s right in front of us. And often, even if we make a plan, it ends up gathering dust on a shelf and we don’t revisit it. I’ll be honest with you – I used to fall into this category! I was quite good at the year end goals and having a weekly plan, but I wasn’t looking at the six monthly, quarterly and monthly picture. And just as importantly I didn’t look far enough ahead.
If you want a compelling vision for your business that will pull you forward, then looking further into the future to three and five years is vital. A spell of a year simply isn’t long enough to get you thinking “out of the box”. The danger here is that unless you go for a longer term vision, this year could end up looking like a carbon copy of last year.
Once you’ve worked out your year end plan it pays to do six monthly, quarterly and monthly plans to break things into bite sized, manageable chunks.
It’s sounds simple – but it’s not easy! It takes discipline and planning to remember to revisit you plan! So to save time – try using the one I’ve developed:
Look further ahead than just this year – where do you want to be in three years time? Or even in 5 years’ time? This longer stretch of time can really help you to think bigger. Don’t worry too much about the “how” in this longer term vision – use long term planning to let you see what might be possible for your business.
Get really clear on your year end goals. Make them realistic and measurable yet a bit of a stretch. Your longer term vision may help you create brand new goals.
Devise headings that work for your business – for instance: earnings, number of new clients, new products developed, networking events attended, speaking engagements booked etc. The main thing is to create measurable targets.
Take a look at your current business model – is it still working for you or are there changes you want to make this year? For instance, maybe you want to do less traveling , or you want to add new products or services. Perhaps like me you are planning to make your business more virtual this year by doing more work by telephone and on the web. Maybe you want to create a day a week when you work “on” your business and devote time to business development and marketing strategies – these vital tasks that get pushed into the background when we’re busy. Take some time to really think about what you want your typical working week and month to look like.
Once you’re happy with your year end goals, start to work backwards. “Reverse engineer” your year. What needs to happen at the six month point of the year for your plan to succeed? Then do the same exercise for each quarter. Carve your year up into manageable project chunks.
Then you’re ready for your monthly targets and more detailed plans. You can take this planning right down to the weekly and finally, the daily level. However – don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do weekly plans too far ahead. Just remember to revisit your plan regularly – even diary in appointments with yourself to work on it so it gets done.
I once heard this about planning and it’s so true: “We overestimate what we can get done in a week and we underestimate what we can get done in a year!”
Make regular planning a priority and you’ll end the year closer to your goals and much more productive.
(c) Shona Partridge, Women Mean Business 2009
Shona Partridge is a small business marketing and PR expert and coach. She works with women entrepreneurs and the self employed, teaching PR, Marketing, Writing and Confidence skills. Shona is a licensed “Get Clients Now!” facilitator, PR professional, experienced coach and trained journalist. She’s the author of “Self Belief for the Self Employed: How Boosting your Confidence Can Boost Your Business” a new CD and workbook programme and creator of the marketing and PR training system”Marketing Mastery, 12 Key Steps to Success”