Business planning isn’t only about an annual plan, nor about an official document, it happens in many various ways. Planning can be used in almost every area of business and since it comes natural to me, it has always been an important part of my personality and life.
In this article, I’m talking about all kinds of planning for business. My hope is that my insight can be of benefit to you.
A Business Plan
According to Wikipedia, “a business plan is a formal written document containing business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame within which these goals need to be achieved. It also describes the nature of the business, background information on the organization, the organization's financial projections, and the strategies it intends to implement to achieve the stated targets. In its entirety, this document serves as a road map that provides direction to the business. Written business plans are often required to obtain a bank loan or other kind of financing.”
Many business advisors recommend that every business have an official business plan and I have certainly had one for Propel in the past. However, what I’ve found is that dedicating the time required to thoroughly put an official business plan together can be beneficial, but is really only needed when the business plans for significant growth or needs funding.
While I do suggest going through a simple business plan process and reviewing that each year at your annual business planning retreat, an in-depth plan isn’t always necessary and it can absorb a lot of valuable time, energy and resources.
Annual Business Planning
For me, setting aside time each fall, after summer and before the holidays get into full swing, is the perfect time to review plans for this year and begin looking ahead to next.
And, I’ve been diligent about taking this dedicated time every year since 2009 when I launched Propel, setting aside 2-4 days and venturing out to a remote and inspiring place in the mountains or at the coast. It’s there that I review plans for the current year, my efforts and success of those plans so far this year, and to make plans for the following year.
Read how I do it here.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? I know I do. But since I began planning out my blogging, email marketing and social media efforts each year, I sigh with relief knowing I’ve thought ahead and can simply refer to my plan.
And you can plan, too. If you start by understanding your goals, then narrow down your target, and proceed to research your market and industry extensively – a map will begin to emerge from the results.
A few years into Propel, as I was training clients on social medias and suggested they plan out their communications, multiple clients asked if I could just put together their plan for them. In that moment, our Communication Planning services were born and we have been honored to serve clients all over the country with customized plans for their unique business.
Each day presents us all with new tasks, projects, challenges, and disruptors. It’s inevitable that best laid plans get upset, so going with the flow will always be to your benefit. Yet, I still plan each day by looking back at what yesterday left for me, and forward to what is up next on the never ending business owner list, mapping out my hours project-by-project.
On Sunday evenings you’ll often find me with my to-do lists, project management system, and calendar preparing for the week ahead. Resorting my to-dos while reviewing my calendar provides insight for what may be required for each upcoming weekday and also allows my brain to rest instead of spinning on “all the things” so I get a sound sleep before starting another Monday.
Scheduling can be one of the trickiest parts of business management. It takes knowing your own habits, patterns, and paying close attention to padding time between meetings and appointments.
Over the years I’ve learned that I need 30 minutes between meetings for bio breaks, filling my water or coffee cup, not to mention the possibility of needing extra time to finish a conversation or wrap up a thought or call.
I’ve also learned how to carefully gauge drive time needed between appointments that may be at various locations across town. Not only that, but I strive to book meetings away from my office all on the same day or over a couple days, instead of every day of the week. This gives me focus days I can chunk my time and chip away at larger projects at the office, while not waste hours sitting in traffic.
Also, if you know your schedule will be hectic for a day or two or even a few, or that you'll be traveling or away from your desk, consider activating an out of office email auto-responder. Letting people know you received their email but you'll be slower to respond is a great way to put them at ease that you will get back to them as soon as you're able while also diffusing additional panic mode follow-ups that may create more distraction or consume time. You may also opt to include information in that responder that gives them insight on how to reach you or your team should an emergency arise.
In my opinion, setting up a budget for your business is one of the most important planning strategies you can invest your time in. Knowing what income and expenses will come in and out of your bank accounts not only keeps you in good standing with the bank, it supports your growth and allows you to make financial decisions when the time requires it.
Keeping your books reconciled each month will also provide insight into your profits and losses so you are informed and can pivot if needed. Whether it means adjusting business services, pricing, taking a new client or preparing a proposal, your financial planning efforts will be the foundation of your business.
To Wrap Up…
Planning doesn’t stop with these few areas, it surrounds every business owner in multiple ways. Your product or service depends on it. Your clients and customers rely on it. Your sanity needs it and your business processes, organizational systems, and team and business development require it.
So, do yourself a favor and dive in. If you need help knowing where to start, subscribe to my enewsletter to receive my personal planning outline which hits inboxes 9/25/19.
To your planning endeavors and all the ease they will bring,
Interested in knowing how I do small business planning?
Subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter to get the September resource. It's full of ideas and shows you my personal annual planning outline.
Related Articles & Resources:
- Get Propel's Small Business Planning Outline and the final (3) resources being offered throughout 2019. Sign-up for our enewsletter by 9/24/19 to start your subscription to our giveaways and inspiration.
- Planning Ahead: Make your Efforts Work for You
- Annual Business Planning: Jamie-Style
- Planning Time - Welcoming an Organized New Year
- Spring Cleaning - Small Business Style
- Why We Think Strategy is the Most Important Thing
- Effective Business Planning
2019 Articles from Jamie:
- How To Self-Start When Motivation Is Low [January]
- 4 Team Building Areas Solopreneurs Need to Understand [February]
- Small Business Communication: What Every Entrepreneur Should Keep in Mind When Communicating [March]
- Always Remember Your Why, Entrepreneur [April]
- 40 Self-Care Ideas To Keep You Balanced [May]
- The Impact of Branding (it's not just about a logo) [June]
- The Customer Experience: What Good Customer Service Really Looks Like [July]
- Small Business Organization: Where Should An Entrepreneur Start? [August]
- Business Planning Happens in Various Ways [September]