In my 20 years of being a business coach, I find that most entrepreneurs have a love/hate relationship with business plans.
Especially solo owned businesses.
There’s often a belief (check in to see if this is you) that creating a plan will box you in and take away your freedom and creative expression – two of the very reasons you got into business in the first place.
This is so not true!
In fact, creating a plan for the upcoming year gives you the clarity you’ve been craving and some structure to lean into.
Creating a business plan helps you become clear about your vision for the year and what you are saying yes to.
When you know what you are saying yes to…it helps you say no to all the other stuff that is begging for your attention and money!
A living business plan will help you immensely with guiding your business throughout the year, helping you make decisions that are in alignment with your plan.
Notice I said, “living” business plan.
A business plan isn’t a static thing, where you decide a path and stay the course and go down with the ship fighting. (I don’t know why that metaphor came to mind, but you get the idea…that somehow once your write down a plan that you can’t change your mind and you are committed at all costs!)
A more modern way of looking at a business plan is that it’s a living thing like your business is a living entity.
It will grow and evolve.
Think of it like a garden. Some things will grow faster than planned. Others stagnate or dry up. Or, some new cool fertilizer comes out that makes everything else obsolete.
Same for your business plan.
It is the home for your vision. Once you get into action, new opportunities come your way, new technologies are born, programs take off, some programs become outdated or you lose interest, or you hire help to get things done and are able to be more visible…you’re always tending to the business plan as it grows and evolves.
A living business plan is meant to guide you through the year. So, when new opportunities come your way, you can more easily say yes or no depending on what you are committed to in your plan.
And new opportunities always come your way!
Your plan will change and evolve as you market and develop relationships.
If you don’t have a plan then EVERYTHING looks like a good idea.
That leads to overwhelm.
Which will keep you stuck, hiding or pretending.
Here are a few ideas about a living business plan:
- A living business plan is a place where you can put your ideas. Getting them out of your head and onto paper will free up energy and you’ll feel such relief!
- You always want to have your bigger vision in your living business plan. It reminds you of the bigger picture for where you are going, what you’re creating and why. It’s easy to lose your way and think your business should look like someone else’s.
- Break your business plan down into 90 day increments. It’s easier to focus on what you’re going to be doing in the next two months than in 10 months from now. Plus, depending on how it goes your plan may change.
- This time of year, is the perfect time to take an inventory. What programs, certifications, products do you offer. What is working? What do you love doing?
Same goes for marketing strategies. What is working for you? What do you enjoy doing? What do you want to let go of?
I’m always surprised at how clients will suddenly mention a book they wrote or a certification they have from 3 years ago that they totally forgot about.
- Remember the key to your success is to “simplify and amplify.” It’s not about adding a ton of programs and marketing strategies. Keep it simple and look at how to do fewer ideas really well rather than spreading your energy and efforts too thin.
I encourage my clients to create a Beacon Marketing Strategy. One great marketing idea that you can use all year long to build your audience, your list, while spreading your message and growing your visibility, like podcast, youtube channel, or even weekly tips.
- Make sure to include your money flow! You don’t have to be afraid or worried that if you pick a revenue number that you’ll fail and be disappointed. ( It’s the most common concern I hear, I swear you won’t be whipped in the public square!) I work with clients to set 3 money goals – easy, great and heaven. Stretching into the bigger numbers gently and with grace. If you ignore the money part of the plan…guaranteed money will ignore you!
- Schedule RAP time throughout the year. RAP = Reflection, Alignment and Planning time. To make the most of your living business plan you want to check in with it throughout the year. Adding ideas, letting go of what isn’t working or relevant any more or getting yourself back into alignment with what you really want.
- A business plan doesn’t have to be heavy and boring. It doesn’t have to be full of spreadsheets – or any spreadsheets at all! It can be done as a list, using mindmaps, or visuals. Whatever helps you make choices and commitments about all those ideas.
And lastly, you’ll want to schedule some time this winter to create your living business plan. This RAP time will pay off with the relief, peace and confidence you’ll gain creating your plan!
PS: If you want immediate access to creative living business plan – the Joyful Business Plan is on sale! Check it out at www.JoyfulBusinessPlan.com