8 Steps to Plan Your Year for Success
Every year starts out the same.
We reflect on the old, we make goals and motivate ourselves to get started on the new.
We get excited and thrilled to get the year going, and then another day goes by, and another and we end up finding ourselves in the same place we were last year.
Lost, confused, gawking at the multitude of options in front of us and wondering which path to take.
What would get me more sales? What should I focus on this year? What can I do to get to where I want to get?
Every expert out there is going to tell you to visualize where you want to be, throw a practically random number at your planner then break down the steps you need to take in order to make this number come true.
I tell you, ditch the expert.
We all know this "plan" just comes out to be, get x amount of sales this month, which gets you to literally stare at the computer screen blank, trying to figure out exactly HOW to do this,
And let me tell you, you're better off throwing noodles at the wall. They stick much better (ask my toddler).
Now don't get me wrong - I'm not against goals (or imaginary salaries, for that matter). I just think that there's a better way to get ahead in your business.
Yes, you should have a dream salary to get to. You should be aiming high. But without a solid plan of action, it's just a wish.
So let's get you all planned out, yes?
What is the #1 goal of your business?
If this sounds simple, then great! You're on your way to greatness 🙂
But although most of us are in it to make a living, many of my customers are actually in it to spread the word for a cause.
Whichever one it is (or it can be something completely different!), write that down in big, bold letters.
If making a living is your goal, write down how much you would need to make in order to get by. That is, the minimum amount you're striving to make.
If you're already making that, write the number you want to get to next.
If exposure and promoting a cause is what you're about, write how many people you want to reach or any other goal you can measure (number of times your product appears on TV, etc).
Let's set some expectations
Sit down and figure out the minimum amount of time are you able to commit to your business, REALISTICALLY.
This is not the time to be dreaming, it's not the time to set high goals. It's time to get down and dirty and commit to a certain amount of time.
It can be daily or weekly, don't feel bad if it doesn't look like much time - I've had my business for six years and never had more than an hour or two a day to work on it.
What HAS to be done in your business on an ongoing basis?
Make a list of all the tasks you absolutely cannot skip in your business and occur at certain time points.
For example, taxes, production, photography, uploading to Etsy, etc.
Next to each task write how long it normally takes and how often it has to occur.
What worked in past years?
If your business has been around for a while, write down how you got previous sales.
It could be random sales from Etsy, a feature in a magazine or even friends or family purchasing from you.
If your business is brand new (or you haven't started yet), just spy on your competitors. Try looking through their reviews and social media and figure where they're getting the bulk of their sales from.
Who are you serving?
Forget elaborate ideal customer profiles for right now.
Find out (from previous sales or from your competitors) who are the people who actually bought your product.
What do you know about them? Snoop around (try social media or googling their email address, peeking at their favorites on Etsy and anything else you can get your hands on) and figure out who they are.
Are they women? Under 30? College students? Divorced? You can learn a LOT from this exercise.
Write down your findings. Don't write every single customer you have, just a generic profile of the most common denominators between all your customers.
If you find yourself with multiple profiles, choose the one you can relate to the most.
Where are your people?
Now that you know who you're serving, finding them will be seriously easy.
Which social networks do your people user regularly?
If you're targeting young moms, they're probably on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
If you're targeting men with beards, I'll bet they'll be on Instagram as well as Facebook.
If you're targeting pet mamas, they'll be everywhere, but probably most easily accessed through Facebook groups either about the breed of their pet or general pet lovers.
If you're targeting 20-year-olds, they'll also be on Quora.
If you're targeting 50+ audience, they probably will be on Facebook only.
So take a survey of where your people are.
Now, from these options, narrow down the social networks YOU enjoy spending time on.
If you don't love what you do, you won't do it.
If you find that your people don't really hang out online, that's perfectly fine. Write down where you can access them (local media? Art and crafts fairs? Ren fairs?
Go hunting for resources
So you know who you're targeting, you know where they hang out and you've chosen a single source of potential customers (which had hopefully proven itself profitable previously), the last piece of the puzzle is finding out HOW to reach your people on your chosen networks.
There is no substitute to experience, but no woman is wiser than she who learns from other people's experiences.
Go look for blog posts, articles, tutorials and guides about what works on your preferred source of customers TODAY.
Don't look at articles from 5 or even 2 years ago, they're outdated. Media changes like my kids' socks on a sunny day.
Here are some free resources to get you started:
Plan it out
We're at the final step now, putting together the big picture.
So you know what you want to do more of
You know how much time you have
You know how much time you're spending on every essential task in your business
Now let's build you a plan.
1. Start out by laying out your calendar before you (it can be digital or physical, whatever works).
2. Block out the chunks of time where you'll be officially working. If you've set for yourself an hour a day, block it out at the time you're planning on starting. Do this for the next month.
3. Next, fill in to those time blocks the repetitive tasks we've determined on step 3. So for example, if you need to set aside two hours a month to do your accounting, find a block of two hours in the month you just blocked and mark that time as "Accounting".
Rinse and repeat for all your essential tasks.
4. Now you know how much time you REALLY have on your hands to focus on growth.
Take the social media (or any other channel) you chose on step 7 and list the steps you need to take in order to get more traffic and sales from this channel. Use the resources you found on step 8.
5. Fill in your extra time with those tasks. You can guesstimate how much time they're going to take but it's not crucial, just block out chunks of time where you'll be working on this channel to develop it.
6. Whatever time you have left, you can fill it with either more time for other things that aren't so crucial for your business (like organizing, filing, etc) or with time to research, learn more and improve on what you're already doing.
Whew, you've done it!
Now it's time to take a break, enjoy your loved ones and celebrate!