6 Business Planning Strategies for Beginners
Are you new to business planning? Ready to start the year off right? Learn some simple strategies and approaches to planning to guide you as you build your business goals.
One important point to make before we talk strategy is that I do not recommend making a full, traditional business plan. Unless you plan to ask a bank for a business loan, this won’t help you. If you want to know more about this, check out this blog post.
1. Keep Goals Simple & Realistic
Set clear and simple goals. Goals can always be aspirational and a stretch, but make sure they are goals that have actionable steps rather than being big dreams that may take years to accomplish. Two to four clear goals is better than 10 aspirational goals.
You want to be realistic in your goals with where you are at. Many small business owners intend to follow through with resolutions and goals but oftentimes fall short. If your goal is to send out a monthly newsletter, but your typical cadence is twice a year, a better and more attainable goal would be quarterly or bi-monthly newsletters. Look at past behavior, and your current workload, to set realistic timelines and deadlines.
2. Track Goals & Data
Get dates on your calendar to check-in and track your goal progress. A progress check-in can be whenever it works for you: mid-year, quarterly, or monthly. The important part is setting some time aside to review your goal progress so you can adjust accordingly. The best-run businesses make small adjustments to the plan-of-action along the way.
Tracking and knowing your data allows you to make better decisions about your business. When you set goals using numbers, you can easily see trends when you analyze the data. So many pieces of software can capture data and give you reports. You can see which months are your best sellers, what time of day customers shop your e-commerce site, what percentage of your audience clicks links in your email and more. At the beginning of the year, write down your numbers for a baseline. Log your social media followers, email list, website traffic, and more. At each progress check-in, you can watch your progress with customer and audience growth.
3. Keep Goals Visible
Keep your goals visible in your space. Write them down and keep them at your desk, turn your goals into a vision board that you can look at, save them to the background of your phone, set reminders on your computer. Find a method to keep your goals front-of-mind. This strategy will increase the likelihood that you will achieve them.
4. Allow For Change
Goals can and will change over time. What you initially thought was a goal at the beginning of the year may actually fizzle out as you discover a new body of work, an experimental marketing approach, or a different strategy to make sales. Be open to shifting the plan along the way and use your goal check-ins to adjust your strategy during the year.
5. Parking Lot Goals
It’s easy to set big dreams and plan to get a lot accomplished in the New Year. However, maybe some of your dreams might not be quite the right fit or the right time. Keep a parking lot (or side list) if goal ideas. Use this list when you have completed your core goals for the year or if you need to make a business pivot. This list of goals will also help you next time you sit down to goal plan because you won’t be starting from scratch.
6. Annual Review
There is no right or wrong way to do an annual review. Just think of your own previous job reviews. I can bet that every employer has had a different process, timing, requirements, and benchmarks.
The annual business review is important as it acknowledges what you accomplished in the past year and can help create a strong direction for the New Year. Plan for an annual review of your creative business and log the review for you to reference. Don’t forget to add a bit of fun and creativity here. Play some fun music, make a good cup of tea, and snuggle up into your creative space as you think about your successes and opportunities.
Do you have any other strategies you use to plan your business? Comment below!