As soon December starts, business owners around the world being the process of furiously creating an action plan for the new year.

New planners! Vision boards! Goal trackers!

There’s a beauty and harmony in planning that makes it completely irresistible. It’s so easy to get carried away in planning, planning, and more planning! So much so that we over-plan… leaving us without room to pivot or to seize new opportunities. We set up ourselves up for failure because just one minor glitch can send our master plan off course.

The best business plans are focused and flexible!Click To Tweet

Here are some specific ways to rethink your planning process to create a successful {and workable!} plan for the new year:: 

When Creating an Action Plan, Limit Your Nitty-Gritty Planning to 12 Weeks. 

When most of us think about planning for the new year, we literally plan for the ENTIRE year ahead. But for most solopreneurs and small business owners, your position 6-12 months from now is going to be dramatically different than anything you plan for today.

As entrepreneurs, we need space to let things unfold before us. Often, we have to respond in real-time to what’s happening in our businesses!

I’m a super fan of setting big picture goals for the year {including revenue, one of the most important annual goals to set}, then breaking down an action plan for each quarter. Every 90 days you can pursue a new set of mini-goals based on the state of your business at the time. This gives you the freedom to constantly and mindfully tweak as needed to build into your big goal for the year.

The biggest reason I love working this way is it helps overcome two huge entrepreneur challenges:: focus and procrastination.

When you’ve got 90 day goals, it’s much easier to keep your eye on the ball. You can see the progress you’re making. And because the deadline is approaching quickly, you learn to say NO to anything that’s going to pull you off track!

We’re all guilty of procrastination. That’s another reason 90 days is a great timeframe for planning. If you’re working on a big goal to move your business forward, you’ll likely need every bit of those 90 days to reach your objective. Just by limiting the timeline, you’re more likely to push the project forward.

Reverse Engineer Your Revenue Goals.

As the year wraps up, it’s important that you spend some time reviewing the year’s revenue.

Why does this help when creating an action plan?

Because numbers tell a clear story. If you review all your revenues from 2016, you’ll quickly see peaks and valleys. {Don’t worry – this is NORMAL for every business!} But as you note what was happening during those periods, you’ll get a good feel for different ups and downs in your business.

Make sure you note the best months in your business. Is that a seasonal trend? Did you run a specific promotion or marketing strategy? Did you launch something?

And then reflect on the worst months in your business. Did you take off for an extended vacation? Did you have a slow period between clients?

Once you have a grasp of the revenue flow in your business, it’s time to set your new revenue goals for the year ahead. 

When setting an annual revenue goal, we optimistic entrepreneurs have a tendency to aim high, and overshoot. But it’s extremely important to choose your annual revenue goal based on the actual work involved to make it happen.

Pick your revenue goal, then sit down and to do the math. Figure out what work and how much work it would take to reach it. By breaking out the specific services and offerings, and the nitty gritty steps needed to make that happen, then creating an action plan can grow from solid roots in your revenue goal.

Revenue Goal Number Crunching.

Here are a few questions to help you reverse engineer that revenue goal if you’re working on 1×1 services::

  • How many clients will you need this year? 
  • How many new clients will you need each month? 
  • How many clients can you realistically manage per month? 
  • How many invitation conversations will you need per month to sign these new clients? 
  • How many potential clients do I need to contact to set these invitation conversations? Is that realistic? 
  • Do I need to change my pricing?

And here’s a few questions to help you reverse engineer that revenue goal if you’re working on group programs or products::

  • How many clients will you need this year? 
  • How many new clients will you need each month? 
  • How many times will I need to run or promote this program?
  • How many people will you need on your email list to fill this program?
  • Do I need to change my pricing?

By focusing on the reality of your business {and life} today, you can start to adjust and stretch your revenue goal, and avoid overestimating that can lead to frustration and you stopping before you really get started.

Set SMART Goals.

Good old SMART goals may feel a little corporate or confining, but if you’re goals aren’t smart, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Ask yourself these questions as you’re planning your big goal for the year {and your 90-day goals too}! You’ll end with much greater confidence and focus for creating an action plan for 2017. 

Specific:: What do you want to achieve? {Make this checkoffable!}

Meaningful:: Why is this goal important to you?

Action-Oriented:: What steps will you take to achieve it?

Realistic:: How do you know you can achieve this goal?

Time-Bound:: By when do you want to achieve this?

Think of SMART as your goal reality check so you know that your goals are actually worth setting. One area to pay special attention to is the M – meaningful. Goals need to have real meaning to you and not just fall into the something-you-think-you-should-do category. {We entrepreneurs are told all day long what we should want, especially for marketing and revenue goals. Focus on what’s meaningful to you!}

Rethinking your planning process now can help you achieve way more in the coming year. More importantly, creating an action plan that’s reflective and measurable will give you more ease and less stress in all the work you do to reach the goals that mean the most to you. 

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