I’m the first to admit that I sometimes feel like I’m wandering aimlessly in my business, like a boat with no direction floating out to sea. You know there’s nothing wrong with that from time to time, it’s just when your business permanently runs like that directionless and rudderless boat that there can be issues.
Last year, this is exactly where I was. I’d done the goal setting, I was working to an annual and quarterly plan, I broke these down into actionable steps in my bullet journal and yet I still didn’t feel I was going where I needed. My marketing was letting me down.
While goals are great and planning and planners map things out, I was missing the action to actually move me in the direction I wanted.
My clients want growth, more sales, more staff, more income for their lifestyle. So what tools and information do they need to get there? How do they get there? How do they know which direction to take in their business?
The first thing a business needs to set their direction is to know how much money they need. Not for their business, first up, but personally. Too often I see business owners running their business like a bank because they don’t know what their budget is, and worse, they don’t live within it.
Do you know how much money your family spends each year? Can you work it out to a monthly, fortnightly, or weekly amount? When you do, make sure you make the calculation based on how many weeks you want to work in your business as you have to save money to live off during your holidays.
Sales needed to generate income
The next number a business needs to determine their direction is how many sales they need to generate their operating expenses, personal income, and a buffer.
Then it’s how many leads that requires, based on their success rate at converting leads to sales. As a guide, most websites convert at 2%. So let’s run some numbers:
You want to generate $100 000
Your average sale is worth $200
You need 100 000/200 = 500 sales
If the only way your clients convert is through your website then:
you need 50 x 500 sales = 25 000 leads
Once you have this number then you need to look at how you generate, capture, and nurture these leads so that you can convert them.
Before you race off and run ads etc, you also need to know how long it takes your business to take them from their first contact through to a sale. For my business, that’s 2 years, meaning that if I want to generate $100 000 in 2021, I needed 25 000 leads in 2019.
So now you’ve got your personal and business numbers how do you make this all happen and set the direction for your business?
As its name suggests, your annual plan is what you are going to do for the year. The goals and targets you want to achieve. The launches you want to have. The metrics you want to achieve. What your marketing & communication focuses are. Your financial goal. How you plan to celebrate. What you learnt from last year.
Your annual plan is a strategic document detailing your business direction for the whole year. It’s a living document, so it can change. It’s overarching, making it not overly descriptive but allowing you to dream big! You should refer back to it at least four times a year, when you do your quarterly planning, but the more the better.
Like an annual plan, a quarterly plan does what it says, it’s a plan of your business direction for a quarter (3-months) of the year. What it should do is take an aspect of your annual plan and map it out for the three months. It should include financial targets, sales targets, lead targets, who you’re getting support from, and the tools you’re using to keep your business on track.
Your quarterly plan should include self-care activities and how you plan to celebrate. It should also include what and why you didn’t achieve things in the previous quarter, what you learnt from that and how you’ll fix it. (Don’t keep passing things from one quarter to the next, if it’s been bumped twice you need to look at if it’s a priority and why you keep bumping it and make it a priority).
Your marketing plan, do you have one written down? This is where I fell down. I had all these great things planned in my annual and quarterly plans but no plan to make it happen. If I wanted sales, to launch, or to grow, I had to market to make it happen.
There are many ways to plan and to plan marketing, I needed something to show me a year in advance what I was focusing on and how my blog and other marketing & communication channels were going to support the direction I had for my business. I needed to see a tangible line between the two.
Marketing plans should include topics, platforms for distribution, dates, and objectives. They are there as a guide.
My annual plan is flexible, I can shift objectives and topics if my annual or quarterly plans change. In all honesty, it’s very much a set and forget until I action each marketing task.
All this planning bubbles down to a weekly plan, I skip monthly plans in preference for quarterly. In it I record income, appointments, meetings, tasks, family stuff. You name it, if I need it to happen that week, it goes in the book.
I used to have a task list, but eventually got overwhelmed by the ever-growing list. I can pencil things in for certain dates, and bump them; but just as you need to watch bumped items in the quarterly plan, the weekly plan is the same.
I also keep quick notes, ideas for books or offers, research, anything really that catches my fancy. That’s the joy and flexibility of it being in one place. (Did I tell you I use a bullet journal system for all of it?)
Overall, the aim of the weekly plan is to combine the tasks you need to do with actionable steps to achieve the larger aims of your quarterly and annual plans.
Action – personal, outsourcing
So, you know what direction to steer your business in and have a system of actionable steps, now to take the action.
Some people are great once they’ve stepped out of their game plan and others can become overwhelmed and start a procrastination spiral. While I’m not here to tell you how to get out of that, what I can suggest is one way to avoid it – don’t do it.
I don’t mean don’t spiral, I mean don’t do all the tasks (actually, I mean don’t spiral nor do all the tasks). I know as a business owner, I feel that I have to complete all of the tasks because I am responsible for the direction and activities of my business. While it’s true, I don’t have to do them all. I don’t even have to write these blogs, I do it because I enjoy it. Your business is the same. If a task that will help you move forward is not one you enjoy or is not an efficient use of your time, or you’ve bumped it twice in your planning – outsource it.
I’ve outsourced image and workbook creation, funnel mapping, accounting, brand photography, branding, and many others. It comes down to valuing my time and realising that while I can do most of these things, my time is better applied elsewhere and deriving an income.
Forgiveness and fixing it when you don’t get to it or questioning if it’s in the best interests
I’ve mentioned a few times about taking action when you’ve bumped something a few times. Here’s the thing, don’t beat yourself up on either bumping it or ditching it. Work out why it happened and keep moving.
At the time of writing, I have 2 tasks that I have moved 3 times in my weekly planning, I should have actually scheduled them for a specific date. I keep moving them because it’s not their time.
I will often think something is a fabulous idea and start working on it only to realise that it’s only fabulous because I admired the person doing it, not that it was needed or helpful to my business.
At the moment, I’m tired, like many we are now 12 months into the covid pandemic and we’re tired. I need to acknowledge that things will take longer and I need to show the kindness to myself that I’d show my clients.
I’ve also outsourced my motivation. I spent two years working with a business coach who helped me take the steps and also held faith in me until I could hold it alone. If you need that person, I can help.
In the end, your business direction depends on you. You need to be clear on where you’re headed, why you’re headed, and what you’re going to get out of it. While dreams are free, action pays the bills. Keep planning and keep moving forward.