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Business planning can easily become a daunting task, and with 10-20 page templates online, it’s easy to feel like you have no time to complete a plan for your business. But the reality is that goal-setting is key to achieving great things, and it doesn’t have to take weeks and weeks to do this. In fact, you can come up with this year’s plan in as little as an hour! Just focus on these five important points and ask yourself the key questions below:
1. How will I define success?
This is the most important part of business planning. Whenever I take on a coaching client, we start by defining a very clear and specific goal before we dive into any methods or tactics. Before you start working on anything, you have to get clear on your goals, visualize them and write them down. This is what helps you get through the hard days, setbacks, and late nights! Some success measures to consider are:
- Number of projects – do you have a target number of projects that you’d like to work on in the coming year? (We’ll talk a bit more about this below.)
- Amount of time, or frequency of time, spent with family, friends, etc. – Our businesses should bring us fulfilment, but they should also give us the freedom to do the other activities that bring meaning to our lives.
- Revenue or profit target – It’s critical to have a specific and realistic target for how much you want to make this year—this can either be a revenue target or the amount of pay that you’d like to take home. (Note: It’s a good idea to look at your income and profit from last year, then come up with a new target based on that.)
2. Do I want to increase (or decrease) my number of clients this year?
- Just because you want to increase profit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can take on more clients in the coming year. Can you handle more clients?
- Did you take on too many clients this year, and if so, what is your new lower target number for the upcoming year?
- If you can handle more clients in the upcoming year, what is your new higher target number for the upcoming year?
3. How can I reduce spend?
Increasing profits may come partially from increased rates, but reducing spending—particularly waste—can help as well. As my father always told me, its not about how much you make, it’s about how much you keep!
- What is my average spend per project, and are there ways to reduce this without sacrificing quality?
- Did I invest in any marketing efforts last year? Are there any that did not yield additional clients or meet my goals?
- Are there any other obvious areas of waste? (Ex: how much unusable product do you have left over after every maker job or floral design job?)
4. How can I increase revenue per project?
- Are there any elements of my service that I can better articulate at the time of booking to help clients see the higher value of what I offer? (For example, do I allow unlimited revisions or other features that provide peace of mind?)
- How can I get better exposure to increase the perceived value of my service?
5. How can I find better work-life balance?
Our businesses run better when we take care of ourselves and our “why”—which in many cases is our family. That’s why these questions are an important part of business planning:
- What activities take the most time in my business, and how can I streamline those to save more time and work smarter (and less)?
- What personal goals do I have next year? Examples include visiting family or completing bucket list items. (Once you decide on these, pencil them in on your calendar, too.)
- What am I willing to trim in order to make time for this? – This may mean investing in a tool like Honeybook to help save time in invoicing and sending sales copy. This may also mean letting go of lower-cost projects or the idea of working every weekend to leave time for what you love.
These are just a few questions that you can ask yourself to help guide you down the path of creating a clear, actionable business plan for 2019. Take a little quiet time and walk through these steps to gain a better picture of what you’d like to see happen this year.