Are you a good planner? As it turns out, if you want to be a successful business owner, this is one of the skills you need to hone, even if it’s not something that comes naturally to you.
Normally we talk about planning towards the end, and then the beginning, of the calendar year. That’s when we get all inspired to get organized, or to do things differently, and better in the New Year. But the fact is that planning is something that takes place year round, and it’s an ongoing process. It’s not a one-time thing that you get done and then forget about – it’s something that you evaluate and reevaluate, do and re-do as the year progresses and you and your business absorb the changes and curve balls that are thrown your way as the months pass.
Sometimes the planning process can get a little lost in the day-to-day busy-ness of a vegan entrepreneur’s life. Don’t be discouraged if this is you – it happens to all of us, and it’s never too late to take steps to get back on track. We all get buried in the demands of our businesses from time to time; the key is having the courage to make a correction, the discipline to implement the changes you desire, and the methodology to guide you along the way. Here are a few pointers, no matter where you are in the planning stage, and some tips on making the leap from planning to action.
Find Your Focus
If you’ve been part of any of my training sessions or webinars, you’ll know that I normally recommend starting a year with 2-4 goals. This ensures that you focus on the most important and impactful goals for your business. Narrowing in and finding your focus is key; if you try to work on everything on your wishlist at once your efforts will be diluted and disappointing. You also need to remember that new goals mean new work, so if you flood your team with too many new goals at once, it might make it hard for them (and you) to find a balance between current and new responsibilities.
Make Your Workload Visible
Once you have your list it’s time to get a general idea of the number of projects that need to be completed to achieve each goal. Doing a quick inventory will help you understand the amount of work required. Don’t skip this!
A lack of workload visibility is often an obstacle for business owners when moving from planning to action.
While some businesses do have the capacity to hire more people to help get projects done, most small businesses must use their existing resources. That’s why I recommend you do this evaluation as early in the process as possible. Generally, I recommend 2-3 projects to support each goal. There is a correlation between the number of projects you will roll out and the size of your organization. However, as a basic guideline, if you find that each goal is producing more than four projects, you might need to reduce the number of goals you are focusing on for the year.
Be Prepared For A Shift
Before most businesses even start the planning process, their teams are already very busy. Keep in mind that to translate your goals into actions you will have to make a few essential shifts in your business, meaning you will need to create the time and space for new projects that will help you reach the goals you have set.
Assuming you are a solopreneur, or working with a small team, start by looking at each team member’s current time allocation on a weekly and monthly basis. Check to see if the current tasks you/your team are spending time on support the new goal, or whether they can be merged with one of the tasks associated with the new goal. Are there any projects that can be retired once your new goals have been reached (and if so, is this somewhere you can free up time that can be used to achieve the new goals)?
This is also the time to have the discipline to look honestly at whether any pet projects that are not serving your business need to be put on hold. (These are the things you like to do, or wish you could do, but aren’t really a priority.)
Stagger Your Project Timelines
Don’t make the mistake of trying to start all your new projects at once. This approach can burden your team, and slow down project timelines, since it will only be possible to allocate a small amount of time to each project each week. Instead, assign start and finish dates on a quarterly or monthly basis and work on one or two new projects at a time.
In some rare cases you might have a project that will take a full year to complete. However, most goals should be broken down into 60-to- 90-day projects with tasks to complete on a weekly basis. This staggered approach will allow you and your team to complete a few projects early on, so you can reap the benefits while you work on others.
Planning and ongoing business evaluation has the real benefit of giving vegan entrepreneurs a realistic sense of their business’s progress from month-to-month and year-to-year. It’s a critical part of a long-term success strategy, and as you and your team meet your goals and document each success you will find yourselves more focused, enthusiastic and productive. Leverage the momentum, and watch your business soar!
Pull up your online calendar and find an hour to set aside each month to spend some time with your business plans. Having this dedicated time in your calendar to assess and reevaluate your plans throughout the year can really help you to step back and keep things on track!