One of the biggest arguments I hear from clients and readers is:
“What do I need a plan for anyway? ______(insert famous name here) did it and had no clue what they were doing. And look how successful they are...”
Usually, my answer to this is: “Well, is _____’s version of success and fame yours as well?”
Then things get quiet.
And then, my friends, we get to the heart of the planning issue. I know you hate the idea of planning...it’s scary, it’s intimidating, and it reeks of the business elements you like least - namely, numbers and analytics. I’d also venture to bet that in the back of your mind, you’re maybe a little afraid that planning might somehow kill your creativity. It will limit your ability to flow with your craft, your inspiration, and your intuition.
Know what else might kill your creativity? Freaking out over how to cover your monthly expenses. Wondering when your next sale will be. Having your latest product fail. (Are we on the same page yet?)
Let’s avoid this at all costs, shall we? The most important thing to learn about your strategy is that it should always be crafted to serve you. It isn’t there to limit you or put parameters on the way you run your business. Really, it’s there to provide you with a clear path to success. Your success.
There are only two things you absolutely need to know to craft a spectacular business strategy. Yep, that’s it. Only two.
First, Know Your End Game. That is to say: know what you want from your business. Your success is just that: Yours. You may want to have a biz that supports you so you can quit your day job. You may want to use your biz as a stepping stone to something bigger. You may want a part-time biz that allows you to make a little extra money & have a creative outlet. Whatever you want, state it. Then, quantify it. If you know you need to make $3,000 a month to support yourself and quit your job, a great goal might be:
- My business will make $3000 per month by this time next year, and I will quit my job on April 16, 2013.
Now, a few of you may already be freaking out by the strength of such a statement, and the accountability associated with it. You may be having a strong flight-or-fight reaction or hear those little voices of doubt, limitation, and resistance creeping into your mind.
Let’s shut those voices up by breaking down our second strategy element, Start With The Smallest, Easiest Goal.
Try to get to the end game too fast & it’s a recipe for disappointment. If the pressure doesn’t get to you, the (perceived) lack of positive results might. If you’re barely making $500 a month, the $3000 goal might seem very, very far away. What if you just tried to increase your sales by 50% (to $750) in one month? That’s just about $8 extra dollars per day. If you do it again the second month, you’ve cracked $1000. Now $3000 doesn’t seem quite as inconceivable, right? The point here is, whatever your goal, start small. Give yourself an opportunity to win. That feeling of accomplishment will carry you to the next goal.
You can totally do this!
If you need help getting started with your own strategy, check out my guide called Methodlite. I’m all about making strategy simple, sustainable, and easy to implement into your busy life.
Megan Gallagher is a small-business strategist working with creative indiepreneurs at Method & Madness. She talks business development, creative vision, and indie lifestyle through one-on-one strategy sessions, e-guides, and the Method & Madness blog.
Main image courtesy of conorwithonen