It’s the start of the year and a new decade. The chances are you’ve probably been thinking about a plan for where you would like to be this time next year. Some of you will have even committed pen to paper to solidify your goals. You probably even have a rough idea of what needs to happen to achieve them. Now what? How will you ensure you stay on track?
Planning is your friend, and I don’t mean the business plan (crucial but can be distracting), I mean the, at a glance, one-page plan that will get you through the next 12 months. It’s very simple but starts with prioritisation.
Decide on your immediate priorities. What will make the biggest impact now and what is critical at this point?
If you are overwhelmed by so many things my favourite method to whittle this list down is the MoSCow method. Must Do – Should Do – Could Do, Won’t do this time. Now here’s the trick. Put all your priorities into the “Won’t do this time” column. All priorities will feel critical and you will find it hard to de-escalate the tasks. In order to move it up the list you need to justify its existence. And I mean REALLY justify it. Will the item have a significant positive impact on the growth of your business or is it just ‘nice to have’.
Keep it simple. Whenever the plan is too complicated very little gets done. This doesn’t mean that you should not have the detail somewhere. For example, a key priority may be to focus on an
email marketing campaign in June just before an event in July. The detail will be in the marketing plan for the event drawn up in March. (We’ll come back to that)
You want something that you can glance at quickly and immediately, know what ought to be happening, in what months throughout the year. So, get a piece of paper – the bigger the better – or some post-it notes and draw a grid that provides you with 12 equal sized boxes for, yes, you’ve guessed it, 12 months of the year. Now, depending on whether you plan via the calendar as we know it, January to December or by your financial calendar (for me: April to March) put the first month of your plan in the top left box and work your way through.
The next step is to put what you feel the big items for the year are into the relevant box. Remember that event – put it in July. If you attend a key trade show in September – add it in. If you’re planning to launch a new product or service, and this may seem obvious but fill those months in.
Remember to keep it simple and do not overfill it. You only have so many hours in the day – planning will not give you any extra, just make more efficient use of what you have.
Once you have completed this then look at each item and add in any sub-items that are crucial to that happening, for example, the email marketing campaign and marketing plan for the event you are hosting in July. Add these in – you can even colour code them so you can see immediately the process for each task.
Remember, you’re not adding in the detail. Just the big actions that will ensure that your priorities get the outcomes you’re looking for.
Now, obviously, you need a bit of detail eventually for these items. You can add roles and responsibilities, KPIs, finances etc and a lot of people like to produce a 90-day action plan. I think this is a very useful tool to bring in the detail. But that can happen in due course and by getting to the detail every 60 to 90 days allows flexibility for you to adapt to any changes in your business. Dare I mention Brexit (Shhhh!!) The key is to get an overarching plan of the journey you would like your business to take to move towards your end of year goals and this, for me, is a quick and simple process to go through.
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