It may seem a daunting task, especially when your time is so precious, but with the right person and the right method, strategic planning can be efficient, fun and incredibly effective. (Yes, I just used the word ‘fun’ in the same sentence as ‘strategic planning’).
If you’re your own boss and you work from home, then you’d know how easy it is to get swamped in to do lists. There may be days and days of administration tasks, email management and follow up to do. At times, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
That’s why it’s worth taking stock. Worth taking time out to work out whether all this work is actually working towards something!
I recently sat down with a dear friend of mine who is familiar with me and my situation, my product and my goals. Armed with an iPad, butcher’s paper, cups of tea and a giant bowl of jellybeans, we brainstormed and set out a 2-year plan for ‘Bethany Simons’. (I use inverted commas for my name, because it’s not just my name anymore, it’s my brand and business.) Whatever your business, I can guarantee that it, and you, will benefit from setting aside time to think about the future.
Let’s break the strategic planning process down:
What do you want?
Brainstorm all of your weird and wonderful ideas in order to see at a glance what it is that you’re after. Don’t sensor, don’t edit. This is your chance to dream big, boldly and beautifully.
What do you need?
The dreaming is over, now it’s time to look at some practical elements such as money, staff, time and resources. Which of these are lacking and which of these are crucial to you achieving what you want?
What steps must you take?
Action stations! Prioritise your task list and work out what you need to do to get the ball rolling.
I needed help to nut out my ideas, to bounce off someone and to write a plan of action. You may need that too. We’re good at being creative, but maybe not the best at being organised. So, make sure you do the dreaming and brainstorming while someone else types or scribbles on paper and whiteboards. You may even like to hit the record button on your iPhone or cassette player (does anyone else still use theirs?) in order to reflect on your ideas at a later date. Recording the planning session is also a good idea for people who speak quickly. I’m yet to find a touch typist who can keep up with this motor mouth…
So, what are you thinking? I hope that the year ahead is full of big ideas and goals, and I hope that you find the time to sit down and explore how you are going to make those dreams a reality.
My strategic planning session helped me to step outside of the work and realise my goals. I now feel excited about the future, rather than overwhelmed by it. I now have a clear direction, a calendar that is being filled with deadlines and a list of key steps to achieve my vision. That’s the plan!