When I started the Making Business Happen blog in 2011, I was very disorganized. I consistently added content to my site. However, I added my content at random times. No one knew if I would add a new post on Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon. A friend suggested I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plug-in. This simple plug-in allowed me to see how disorganized my blogging was. I followed a consistent blogging schedule within a week after using this plug-in. I was finally able to see what a consistent blogging schedule looked like.
We cannot run a successful business in a disorganized manner. The most successful businesses write a game plan that they follow. The plan provides a roadmap for making important decisions. More importantly, business owners who do write their plan on paper transform their thinking. The business is no longer a crazy dream. It is something with substance. It is a living document. Writing a plan with specific, measurable objectives turns the dream into a goal. The business becomes something to execute instead of something we will do someday.
Four key steps to developing a written plan for your business.
1. Make the plan simple – I have yet to see anyone follow a business plan that is too long and complex for what the business stands for today. If you are just starting your business, you do NOT need a long plan with colorful charts and detailed explanations. Your plan can be as short as one page.
2. Make your goals specific and measurable – You must represent any meaningful objective on a graph. I coach my own clients to understand the difference between objectives and strategy. Many of my clients come to me with objectives like “I should start a new membership site” or “I need to write a business plan”. Those are strategies to understand how you will accomplish your objectives. Two examples of meaningful objectives are, “I will earn $x of net income per month by December 2012” and “I will secure five speaking engagements in October 2012”. These objectives are clearly measurable. The two strategies listed above are how an entrepreneur could achieve these objectives.
3. List projects to complete – A project is anything requiring two or more steps to complete. We have all heard about how to-do lists make us more productive. Unfortunately, many to-do lists are unfocused collections of completely different tasks. Projects allow you to collect your action steps in an organized, focused way. If you know your high-priority projects, you will know your specific actions.
4. Spend time every week reviewing and updating your plan – What good is a plan if you never refer to it? I block time on my calendar every week to review my plan and make any necessary changes. Michael Hyatt has a great Excel file you can use to build your ideal week. I have a Google Calendar template to accomplish the same purpose. (PLEASE create a copy of this file if you use it!)
When you see your plan on paper, you build purpose around your business. The business changes into something you can accomplish by working and following your plan. How can you build your plan to make your business happen on purpose?
Photo from Yodel Anecdotal via Flickr Creative Commons