It’s that time of year where we look to the year ahead and make big plans. If you’re taking a break over the holidays, you’ll likely get more energy and ideas for what you want to do in 2015. True downtime is good for that. You recharge, listen to yourself, clean up the what’s getting in the way of your real desires.
But big vision thinking can’t happen alone. Lots of creative ideas without a plan for how to make the most important ones happen is dangerous. You end up focusing on NOTHING because you focus on EVERYTHING.
When I started my business I had life goals, bucket list stuff like writing a book, owning a media company, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. But a plan? No siree. I knew enough to restrict “BIG” visioning to specific times of the year (idea overdrive only leads to exhaustion) but it wasn’t until I had a plan that I felt in control of my business. It’s also when my business took off.
At this point, operating without a plan (or the semblance of one) induces nausea. Truly. Business has so many moving parts and there’s still so much I want to do. A plan is the only way we’ll reach our true heights in 2015.
So let’s get one shall we?
Before you get the how, here’s the why. A plan isn’t to micro-manage your business. Life happens. Stuff goes wrong. Entrepreneurs say, “But a plan sucks my energy!” “I don’t want to be controlled!” Let me be clear: A plan is NOT to exert control in places you can’t. All it does is give you direction and FOCUS. It’s what lets you “think outside the box” and gives your creativity a shot at succeeding. You need boundaries.
Even a blank canvas has corners.
This process applies mostly to service providers (like coaches) and people who control their income, but can definitely be extrapolated to other industries.
1. Start with an annual revenue goal.
Money isn’t everything, but it IS an ideal metric to start with. Annual income allows you think about how you spend your time as a whole – travel, family, work. You create a lifestyle, not just live month to month. How much revenue do you want to make next year? Write down a number. Make it 70% real, 30% ideal. Both are important. “Real” means you likely won’t hit six figures year one in business. “Ideal” is maybe you want to double your income next year. Shooting high is always allowed, just not so high you want to quit.
2. Look at your revenue streams and sources of income
If you’re an entrepreneur, look at the places you generate income – clients, workshops, speaking gigs, book sales. Write down all your consistent sources of income per month and money you make from one-off projects like launches or partner deals. If you offer services, look at private programs, group programs, other offerings. What feels good to you in 2015? How will you price each program to meet your revenue goal? Note: You’ll probably need 2-4 different income streams to meet your goal if you’re just starting out.
3. Plan out your vacations and off-time.
This is the most important part, and the most fun. Sit down with your partner and family and your respective calendars and write down when you will take time off next year. Zero in on a date. Don’t be vague. “We’ll do it in March” means you won’t. “August might work” won’t work. Take it from someone who skipped every vacation she planned one year and burned out completely; NOT taking time off will destroy your business. Now I like to take breaks every couple months (near NYC) and at least two big vacations in the year. Sound luxurious? Sure. But it’s become a necessity. A happy, rested business owner creates a happy, healthy business.
4. Plan out your quarterly goals.
Once you’ve decided which projects you’ll pursue in 2015, work backward. Start with the end in mind and break your year into quarters (unless you’re Mayan, this gives you four.) Take on 1-3 goals per quarter and no more. This is where you FOCUS. Streamline well and you’ll create enough space in your calendar to not only accomplish your goals, but do so with magic. This is when I hear people sigh with relief, “I finally feel like I can get it all done!”
5. Plan out your 30-60-90 day plans
We’re getting to the nitty gritty now. This is an even more refined version of working backwards. Once you’ve got your quarterly goals, break them down into action steps so you’ll actually make progress over the next 30, 60, 90 days. Progress happens through action. It’s not enough to say “I want to re-brand my site” (I wish it was!). The process from “I want to re-brand” to actually doing it is a 1000 steps: copywrite, design, source templates, edit, code, de-bug, much more. To create your 30, 60, 90 day plans, write down every single task that needs to happen to meet your goal, then timeline it. For example, if I want to get my finances organized in Q2, I need to:
- 30 days: Get referrals from colleagues on who they use. Email those referrals. Interview referrals. Decide which bookkeeper I’ll go with.
- 60 days: Give bookkeeper all receipts, paperwork to set up Quickbooks.
- 90-days: Once basic finances are in order, set up a budget for business and personal expenses.
This is the foundation of your annual plan and will help get your 2015 on the right track.
Forget new years resolutions; it’s time to start thinking about entire year’s resolutions. A plan helps you maintain momentum and success throughout the year, not just the first few months.
Have you started planning for 2015? What are your big goals? I’d love to hear from you. And if you know someone who needs to hear this right now, please share this with them. We help ourselves by helping each other.