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Business Planning: The 2012 Strategy

Put down the cookie…

Step away from the left over fruitcake…

You’ve procrastinated long enough.

It’s time to get down to business and get your business and marketing plan for 2012 done!

Do You Need One?

Good question.

And the answer is…

Kind of…

Yes, really.

Here’s What I Know

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of questions and conversations related to 2012 planning.  In some cases I see people working for weeks on this process.  Frankly I’m not sure that you’re doing it right if weeks are involved.

My planning for the year took all of four interrupted hours.

Yes, four long hours.  And then it was about a day and half before it was blown to pieces.

Why?  Because I was asked to partner up in a very intensive program for next year that will take a lot of time but could be very profitable and enjoyable.

Dilemma

What might be a dilemma for many was a no-brainer for me, but let’s talk about the dilemma anyway because it’s critical to your planning process.

Meet Angie, she has a small business creating web site designs for new businesses and she does site re-design for established businesses who need a change.

She has spent two weeks working out all the details of her 2012 Business and Marketing Plan.  Each quarter is organized and within each quarter every month has goal sets.  Then she has listed major tasks to meet those goal sets.

Angie’s plan is clear and concise.  It’s really very organized.  Lots of work and lots of thought.

Then on December 27th the phone starts ringing.  A local web writer that Angie has used in the past has teamed up with another local business that hosts web sites.  She has received some funding from the web host to organize and run local web site classes.  The idea is that the cost to run the classes is covered and could lead to a bunch of new customers and leads as well as some PR.

The problem is that the writer wants Angie to design and teach the web site design portion of the events.  Because the web host has cash and can do the advertising necessary to bring in at least 50 people to each event the writer and Angie would have no out-of-pocket expenses.  The web host wants one event every month.

It’s a great opportunity!  But… wait….

Angie has her plan in place for next year already and it doesn’t include time to design and teach these classes regularly.  She would have to re-work the plan and then something would likely have to be cut from the targets for the year.

What to do…

Me?  No brainer.  Why?  My planning took just a few hours.  But Angie has spent days, hours, weeks on her planning for the year… it’s perfect.

Dilemma for Angie…

Solutions

So this is a common type of challenge that clients come to me for.  I call them challenges.  But for many these are problems, dilemmas, overwhelm, chaos, decision, whatever you call it it requires a solution.

And these challenges can be difficult; Angie has invested time and energy in her plan.  She doesn’t want to let that hard work go but she also sees the value in the opportunity at hand.

A New Plan

So before you become Angie and fall into the trap that a well-laid plan entails consider this… what happens when the plan doesn’t go as planned?

Do you also have a Plan B?

My Process

When I think about Business Planning I get a little bit of a headache even though I love having systems and process.

My planning system works like this:

  1. Set a target – something I want to achieve.  This year I have four major goals.  That’s it.  I don’t have them broken down in any way.  I haven’t structured them as February targets and March targets.  Just my four targets/goals for the year.
  2. Write it down where you can see it – this is a critical component, especially for creative people or folks who operate from a right brain preference or super visual folks.  If you write out your targets and then put them in a file you might as well forget about them because you will likely forget about them.  I have mine on the office white board.  I draw big circles and in each one I put a target.  I use different colors.  They are always in my view, always.
  3. Plan B – sit down and take a minute to get this part clearly… NOTHING ever goes exactly as planned.  You need to be flexible, very flexible.  A vendor could be late in providing needed inventory, you could get sick or your kids could, you might have a project take a turn for the worse and require more time, a project could take a turn for the better and take more time but generate more revenue.  Be ready for whatever comes so that you can quickly say “sure” or “nope”.  Eliminate the “dilemma” part.
  4. 365 Days – that’s the whole year and on every day of that year look at the white board or wherever you have your targets posted.  Do this one thing without fail every day of the year, yes, even New Year’s Day.  When you look at the targets ask this question:  What can I do today to keep moving forward on these goals?  Pick some and GO.  Forward progress is made by the small steps you take every single day.  And on New Year’s Day when you look at the targets and ask the question, remember that “spending time with my family to energize me for the work ahead” is a perfectly legitimate step.

Even in the very best of circumstances things change.  Change is happening in every minute.  Flexibility wins the race.

Business Planning 2012, Do You Need It?

Yes.  Absolutely.  You don’t get anywhere without a map.  BUT what you may not need are the countless hours of minute by minute planning.  Have goals and targets and move toward them consistently.  Be ready for change because it is always waiting in the wings.  And if you miss a target, re-group and determine what you can do to get back on track.

Have a Happy and Red.Hot New Year!

 

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