Today we’re talking about planning. Yes, that’s right, we will plan to plan. As an entrepreneur I know what you’re thinking—I’ve got client work to catch up on, kids to haul around to school, a schedule that is never-ending and now you want me to add time to plan? Are you serious? Yes, you heard me right! Here’s the tough love: if you don’t make time for planning you will continue to run around like a crazy person, always busy but never really accomplishing what’s on your list. Do you want to be busy or do you want to grow a business? Yeah, I thought so! Read on for tips on how to plan properly.
Spend the first part of your day creating your plan
While it may feel somewhat counterintuitive to start the day off without doing any “actual” work. Planning for your day will help to set you up for success. Just take the first fifteen or twenty minutes of the day to create a plan. You can also spend the last part of the previous day creating the plan if that works better for you. Some people like to keep a hand-written planner or notebook, or you could do this on your computer with a calendar or even in Evernote. Either way, planning out the steps you will take each day will help you to be more productive.
Schedule the most important tasks first
If you have something with a looming deadline, you don’t want to have that hanging over your head all day. Try scheduling those important tasks first and you will find that you feel less stress overall. You will also want to think about those tasks that require a greater amount of brain power and make sure to schedule those during the time you are most alert and ready to work.
Don’t pack in too much in one day
When we first start filling in our calendars it’s easy to get a little overzealous and pack every minute with a new task. In order to be effective at planning you need to give yourself a little breathing room. If you think something will take thirty minutes, it’s better to give yourself forty-five minutes to complete it. Trying to jump quickly from one task to the next with no wiggle room is a recipe for burnout
Plan to take some breaks
When planning your day be sure to put in some time for breaks. As entrepreneurs it is so easy to just work through the entire day (and some of us may even forget to eat lunch a time or two). Think about why you started your own business in the first place. It was probably so you could have some freedom over your schedule. There is no need to treat yourself like a slave. Take some breaks, step outside, and don’t forget to eat lunch!
Distractions can kill a plan quicker than you can create one. Don’t let distractions derail your focus! For a lot of entrepreneurs, email and social media are the two culprits behind plans that fail. If you know that these easily distract you, create time in your schedule to check your email, and don’t be tempted to respond every time you hear an email notification (better yet, turn out notifications all together). While social media can be a time waster, it can also help grow your business, so schedule in time where you will check Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or whichever platforms you currently use. You can also delegate your social media to a VA or someone in your organization if you know that you don’t have time to manage it yourself.
When it comes to creating a plan, the hardest part is getting used to a new way of doing things. The next time you are feeling like skipping a break, or find yourself getting side tracked by social media, just remember that if you want to grow your business you have to treat it like one. As Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Dawn Sinkule, the Founder of Virtual Point Solutions, is an MBA graduate, Strategy and Business Growth Consultant as well as a Certified Online Business Manager with more than 16 years of corporate experience working for a Fortune 50 company. Dawn and her team work with passionate six figure business owners who want to grow, expand, and explode their businesses. Dawn and the VPS team provide your choice of self-implementation or fully done for you solutions, and both include detailed business strategies, automation, systems, and most importantly the satisfaction of knowing your business is heading the right direction. Her clients get not only the experience of a Fortune 50 leader, but also a personalized and customized strategy as well as an implementation team: AKA your secret weapon for success. Check out her website and grab her FREE 4 Systems you Never Knew You Needed to Crush Chaos and Put Profit First (finally!). Connect with Dawn and her team on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Goal is defined as a measurable, desired level of performance. Every business owner needs to set both short and long-term goals and each goal must pass the S.M.A.R.T. test.
- Results oriented, and defined by a
A goal always has two parts: the goal itself and the desired level of performance. Examples:
- Reduce voluntary staff turnover to 7% or less per year
- Improve annual safety audit by achieving a score of 98/100
- Reduce annual product defects to 30 per 10,000
- Increase annual customer satisfaction to 90% of “5” on a 5-point scale
Objectives for accomplishing the Goals should be set at each level in the organization in a cascading fashion. Each objective must be directly linked to the achievement of the larger, macro goal(s). Rarely is a single objective used to achieve a goal; multiple objectives are usually needed. Borrow good ideas from other sources. And when setting goals try to avoid making these mistakes:
- Creating goals that are really projects, activities, or strategies
- Goals that are based solely on past performance
- Arbitrary stretch goals
- Inconsistent short and longer-term goals
- Inconsistencies in goals at different levels of the organization
As part of goal setting, be sure to also develop Measuring and Testing (M&T) strategies. Link each goal with key objectives that can be measured/tested or listed/tracked, in a scorecard format. An example might include the following:
- Long-term goal of “90% Customer Satisfaction” is linked to your customer satisfaction ranking system.
Remember to focus on the following:
- Develop specific objectives for each goal
- Identify short (annual) and longer-term goals on the same measures
- Make sure goals and plans are consistent across levels and functions
- When possible, involve customers, key suppliers, and employees in the planning process
- Spend no more than one month at fiscal year-end preparing your plan
- Employ a systematic approach to select the best strategies for accomplishing your goals
- Use benchmarking to identify effective strategies for achieving your goals
- Communicate your plan! If employees don’t know your goals and plans, they won’t be able to help you reach them. Use a variety of communication methods with more reliance on one-on-one communication than canned presentations.
Deborah Kohler launched her business in 2004. She is a Business Coach, Trainer, Professional Facilitator, Columnist and Public Speaker. Her company mission is “helping business owners and community leaders.
CEO/Owner Scribble Mountain www.scribblemountain.com (970) 391-6980
Growth in business in inevitable. Startup companies are the fastest growing industry in the world. In fact, according to Equidam, most start-up businesses can expect an average growth of 120% the first year, 80% the second year, and 60% the third year. My company has followed similar trends, and I have seen 500% growth in my own company in the two years. Due to the nature of my business, I have had the opportunity to speak to other small business owners about their growing pains. Through these conversations, I had found five common themes small business owners wish they had known before their companies experienced significant growth:
Have a Growth Plan
This is something I share with all my clients, be ready for growth! Even if growth doesn’t seem possible in the beginning, it is essential to anticipate the growth of the business. Create a growth strategy, and map out what growth will look like for the first three years. Determine what gaps of knowledge exist, what tools will be needed, and what will be needed to manage the growth. Having a growth plan allows the business owner to know what to focus on as the business moves through different phases.
Use a Project Management Tool
A Project Management Tool provides access to a growing pipeline of work and projects. A Project management tool allows the business owner to track all projects (the past, present, future) and provides the ability to work smarter instead of harder. Tools like Asana, Teamwork, Trello or Basecamp are great places to start and can store reoccurring templates and projects so as you grow you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you have a similar project.
Make It Easy to Communicate
I am going, to be honest, I hate email. Email inboxes quickly get bogged down with junk, and my inbox receives hundreds of messages a day. It’s important to have a place to communicate with clients effectively. I have found an amazing app called SLACK as a way to stay on top of client real time communication. Remember the bigger you get as a company the more demands are put on your time, you don’t want to get stuck spending countless hours trying to find that one critical email. If you haven’t discovered SLACK yet, it is a game changer.
82% of small businesses will fail due to cash flow problems. It is important to stay on top of expenses, revenue and investments. While a simple spreadsheet can work initially, as a business grows a more robust program will be required. I prefer Quickbooks, Freshdesk or bench.co (For US based clients), if your budget allows, this is where I recommend outsourcing. Unless you are a professional bookkeeper or CPA, let someone else handle your books.
Get a Team In Place
If you’re struggling to make money, this will feel impossible to implement. However, proactively getting a team in place, or at least having a team in standby mode, will make the growth manageable. Successful business owners can NOT do it all, and the sooner this is recognized, the faster the business will grow. The focus of the owner should be on strategy and expansion, and not be doing the routine tasks. Hiring the right team is critical for long-term success (this entire topic is another blog post for another day).
By following these five recommendations, business owners will be better prepared for the growth of the company. Create a growth plan, use a project management tool, find an easy way to communicate with clients, track the finances, and get a team in place. Seems pretty simple, but is often times overlooked, now go out there and make some money!
Ready to get a growth plan in place? Book in a FREE Strategy Session here.
Dawn Sinkule, the Founder of Virtual Point Solutions, is an MBA graduate, Strategy and Business Growth Consultant as well as a Certified Online Business Manager with more than 16 years of corporate experience working for a Fortune 50 company. Dawn and her team work with passionate six figure business owners who want to grow, expand, and explode their businesses. Dawn and the VPS team provide your choice of self-implementation or an entirely done for you solutions, and both include detailed business strategies, automation, systems, and most importantly the satisfaction of knowing your business is heading the right direction. Her clients get not only the experience of a Fortune 50 leader but also a personalized and customized strategy as well as an implementation team: AKA your secret weapon for success. Check out her website and grab her FREE 4 Systems you Never Knew You Needed to Crush Chaos and Put Profit First (finally!). Connect with Dawn and her team on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.