Business plans: a yearly planner
When the topic of business planning is discussed lots of people’s eyes glaze over with images of long-winded MBA documents full of projections, financial statements and market analyses (or is that just me?). But I’m here to tell you the good news: business planning does not have to be this way.
Before we hit the end of January I thought I would share with you a quick tip to help you plan out your exciting business this year.
A yearly planner
The world’s most successful entrepreneurs understand that forward planning is essential for success. Even just loosely planning your week, month and year in advance will let you quickly identify busy times and also build in regular business milestones to work to.
Planning out your time helps you use it effectively, and a yearly planner can help you do just that.
For this exercise I use a year-to-a-view paper poster calendar as pictured below (and lots of washi tape). This might feel old-school but I can glance at it from my desk and see what is coming up. I also find the time it takes me to craft and update helps me remember what I have on. But if you feel you want to do this in your diary or via an online option, go for it. Personally, I use this yearly calendar in conjunction with my Day Designer planner and my shared Google Calendar with my husband.
The yearly planner provides a unique perspective on your time that you can’t achieve using monthly, weekly and daily lists. It’s a great place to start understanding how your life and business will fit together during the year. In future posts I will dive into time management and how you can manage your more detailed plans (and some of the milestones) but for now we just need to put the big things down.
Things to include in your yearly calendar planning are:
1. School holidays
OMG! For parents out there this is a big one. The time we have to invest in our business can seriously diminish during the school holidays so it is not a good time for major business milestones, product launches or any intensive marketing and networking activities.
2. Your holidays, business trips and important birthdays
Marking out your holidays and business trips (including conferences and training) helps you further segment your year into periods where you can and can’t work on your business. If you have a partner or an important employee it can also be useful to mark out their trips as well. How much Birthdays will impact your business is debatable but I like to have them on there.
3. Public Holidays
Again, depending on your business, public holidays can impact when you might release a product, your shipping rules, staff availability or your booking availability. Mark them down.
4. Commercial Calendar
The significance of “special days” will differ in importance for every business, but it is good to mark in events that are relevant to your customers. Examples could include Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Back to School, Cyber Monday, etc. In my old business — Puppy Tales — even events like the RSPCA Million Paws Walk were good to include.
5. Planned milestones, programs and release dates
Now you have all those other components in you can add your business’s important milestones. You now know the exact amount of “space” you have to fit things in, so you can purposefully choose the perfect spot for you and your customers. This can include anything from an e-course launch to the manufacturing of a new product line.
6. Top-level marketing communications
It is great to have consistent days that you blog and send newsletters. Sure, there will be times when you send more or less but marking these in a yearly view you can quickly see when you might hit a public holiday or you are away, so you can plan ahead and change days or schedule it to go out without you being there.
7. Tax and expenses
This might be a little boring but it is great to try and mark in the date you are (or want) to get your tax done, so you are ready for any preparation you need to complete for that. Also, if you have any major expenses during the year some people like to mark these down as well, but if your calendar is getting too hectic save this for your monthly view.
Let me know how you go mapping out your 2015. And I hope this helps you understand the time you do have to work on your business this year, so you can use it effectively!