What an exciting time of year! A great opportunity to plan the next year. “No matter what stage your business is at you should review progress and look at your strategy every year,” says business planning expert Russell Streeter.
I recommend reviewing how last year went for you (guidance in my Annual Review article, complete with free workbook) first, so that you know what works for you and what doesn’t, and can plan accordingly. You put so much of your energy into your business, planning will mean that your time is spent well and truly puts you in charge of your business.
Set the scene
Before you start to plan the next year, what are your long-long-term goals (really long, up to 25 years)? By starting with the longer-term plan, you can connect the work you are doing today with what it means for your future, which can be vital in keeping you focused and inspired when it’s finally warm again and you want to go and play outside instead.
What do you need to achieve in the next year to get nearer to your long-term goal? Break down your goal and work out the first steps. If you want to live on passive income from online courses, maybe start the year practising with YouTube videos to hone your skills, see what content people engage with and create your first course.
Revisit your business plan. Things can change a lot a year – update your SWOT, cashflow projections, marketing strategy, etc. This will guide your goals for the next year.
Plan the next year
Just as importantly, what do you want to achieve and work on this year? This can be as big or as small as suits you, don’t feel pressured to make big goals that don’t fit your priorities. Your goal could be to work less hours, and therefore the smaller milestones could include assessing what you can cut out entirely and putting systems and processes in place to mean your business still works.
It is really important to decide what to focus on this year, so that you can complete projects rather than have dozens on the go – half finished projects are as useful as a half-cooked turkey; it’s either finished and usable, or it’s not.
After annual goals, break them into quarterly sections. This not only breaks up the year in a pleasing way, but also is enough time to make meaningful progress, keep momentum and allow you to adapt if situations change by reviewing quarterly.
For each quarter:
- What do you want to achieve by the end of the quarter?
- What research do you need to do and what do you need to learn?
- Who can help you?
- What is your revenue target for this quarter?
- Where is this revenue going to come from?
- How many customers will you need?
- Are there any revenue streams you want to add or remove?
- What is your marketing strategy (i.e. platforms, target audience, messaging, etc.)?
- How much time are you going to devote to this?
- Create a marketing plan for the quarter, broken up by months and weeks. You could brainstorm topics at the start of the quarter and plan your marketing activity for the whole period. www.janetmurray.co.uk/ has lots of useful information in her blogs and podcast on this
Ensure you include techniques that worked for you last year, as well as pre-empting anything that stopped you achieving your goals last year. Apply anything you learnt from your successes, and from your frustrations, to plan the next year. Work out what you need to do differently to spend more of your time happy!
At the start of each quarter, break these goals down into smaller milestones and tasks to give monthly targets, all keeping you moving towards the bigger quarterly focus.
If you’re more of an audio-visual learner, Carrie Green talks through quarterly goal setting in this YouTube video.
Finally, believe that you can reach your goals – psychology has a lot to answer for. You can do this!
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