Planning ahead can seem so daunting when you first sit down and think about it. This is something I never really thought about (and probable never cared about). When it came to my business I did not really think planning was a necessity. I mean, when you look at everything that you have to do…who has time to plan? What I found out is that much like the saying ‘When don’t plan, you plan to fail.’ I was setting myself up for major disappointment. My business experienced a lot of struggle but I really didn’t know what I should be doing and a lot of times felt like everything was created ‘on a whim’ when I knew that I had passion for my business and my clients. That passion did not show through – even though I had it!
What I found was that having an actual goal (a plan) my customers received much more out of it and my passion came through. Because of this, my business did not have as many struggles at it had in the past (yay!). What I found out along the way is that almost all of my clients did the same thing (failed to plan). When they decided to have a sale it was at a moments notice, just because they felt like it (or wanted an increase in sales). Even holidays like Fourth of July sales were thought up only a few hours, if not just days before the sale was offered. Even for large sales like black Friday, my clients were doing the same thing…creating the sale just before it was released. Now that I know how to plan and see the benefits I’d like to share that with my clients because even though you may have a very successful business…planning out your sales, promotions, goals, etc just makes your business that much more successful!
So, how do you plan out your entire year? It’s easier than it sounds. You’ll want to schedule the time to do this on a day you can invest your time solely in planning out the year. Keep in mind this is a brief overview of your year. This allows you to be able to make changes and adjustments depending on what happens throughout the year. Your ‘plan’ is not set in stone so for those of you who worry about this…don’t!
First, you should reflect on your past year. Try asking yourself these questions:
- What worked the previous year?
- What didn’t work the previous year?
- What goals did you not reach?
- What goals do you want to reach this year?
- What goals from last year that I did not reach, can I bring over to the new year?
- What do I want to accomplish this year with my business?
- How much do I want to make this year?
By answering these questions you have a starting point to where you’d like to go for the new year. This starting point will help launch you into your plan fairly easily because once you start writing these questions and journaling, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you would like to do for the year.
Next, you will want to make a list of the blogs and then any sales you’d like to have for the year. If you are a retail sales industry you will want to focus your blogs and sales on possibly the same thing (valentines day blog posts and sales for that holiday for example). If you are a service based industry try keeping your blogs in line with your service specials. For example, I might blog about the importance of a logo and offer a discount on logo design. A contractor may blog about the importance of replacing your tile and offer a tile special for the month. When you create your blog schedule remember that it is best to have a monthly topic that you can break into sections. As you all know (if you’ve listened to me in the past), you should be blogging once a week (twice monthly at the very very least). You should send this blog out to your list (if you don’t have a list…you’re missing out BIG time…GET ONE!) and making sure you stay in front of them weekly including letting them know about your specials.
Now, creating this masterpiece of a plan may seem overwhelming but I promise it’s better than the overwhelming feeling you get each day when you sit down and realize that you need a plan…like yesterday and have yet to send out a blog post in over a month! A few hours of planning and briefly feeling overwhelmed (which should be noted, if you do feel this way know that once you get into it…the overwhelm disappears!) seems well worth it in the end. Plus, once you finish you will feel this amazing release. It’s like being on top of the world to a busy stressed out business owner!
Another thing you have probably heard me preach about is planning your social media posts ahead of time. You’ll want to sit down and schedule out a week to two weeks ahead of time (if not the entire month) at once. I usually take an afternoon and write my blog posts, schedule my emails, and schedule all of my social media for a few weeks. Now, the only difference is I know what I am going to be writing about ahead of time instead of sitting down and staring blankly at my office wall and end up on Facebook for three hours watching silly videos (surely I can’t be the only one that gets sucked into this and three minutes is somehow a time warp of three hours!).
By planning out this year you will feel so much better. You’ll have a handle on what you’re doing and where you are going with your business. Trust me, just winging it…doesn’t work! Most businesses are out of business within the first 3-4 years. Creating plans and putting them into place, knowing your goals and going after them each month as mini goals, and scheduling ahead of time will help you to not be one of these statistics!
I encourage you to sit down this month (since it is a New Year!) and plan out an overview of your year and plan out in detail the remaining of this month. Start your business out right NOW and give no excuses. You’ll be so much happier in the end when your day is completed and you know that tomorrow you can focus on simple things like mailing out orders, etc and not how you are going to tackle those orders, write your blog posts, and do all of your Facebook posts! It’s a very rewarding feeling.
Do you plan your year out? Do you plan goals and work on reaching them throughout the year? I’d love for you to leave a comment and let me know.
xo, Christy Jo