Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

August 2013

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An overarching 3-5 year strategic plan for your small business, although essential for business growth, can be cumbersome. As entrepreneurs performing in a “distraction economy”, it’s easy to lose focus of what needs to be accomplished “now” to reach the strategic milestones of the long-range strategic plan. That’s why small business planning conducted quarterly is essential to keep you focused and on track.

Small business planning conducted quarterly accomplishes two critical objectives for small business entrepreneurs:

  • it establishes focus for the upcoming three months, and
  • gives you the opportunity to realign or readjust your planning practices.

Without routine check-ins and check-ups on your progress, good business planning habits quickly spiral out of control.

Are you ready to focus your efforts? Here are the 7 fundamental steps to small business planning conducted quarterly:

1. Allocate sufficient time. Given the vision range of 3 months, you want to allow adequate time to analyze and plan for your next steps. Although the time needed for the business planning process varies from business to business, it’s common to assign 6-8 hours for proper review and planning. This can be accomplished during one sitting or by scheduling an hour each morning. Some small business owners find it helpful to get away from their regular work environment for business planning conducted quarterly for uninterrupted strategic thinking.

2. Evaluate results from previous quarter. To avoid repeating strategic errors, conduct an audit of your previous quarter goals and results. This provides insight into what’s working and what’s not working. If you don’t know your metrics, you can’t grow them.

3. Refine tactics. Based on your breakdown of the previous quarter results, hone procedures or approaches to generate greater productivity and results over the next 3 months.

4. Identify personal and business commitments. To achieve balance between your personal and business life, evaluate both personal and professional commitments for the upcoming quarter. This provides a template for ongoing business planning that occurs monthly & weekly.

I add “projected hours” to each commitment. It may sound over the top but it gives me a clear sense of what can realistically be achieved given the time available to meet my commitments.

5. Evaluate, refine, and upgrade commitments. Small business planning conducted quarterly provides an opportunity to audit ongoing commitments. Are there obligations that need to be renegotiated to free your time for more productive, goal-achievement work?

For instance, a regularly attended networking event does not produce what you intend. The quarterly business planning process is your opportunity to decide if you’ll continue to attend the event using refined tactics to improve results or to cancel completely.

To those entrepreneurs that shrink from what seems a radical idea as “canceling” a regular scheduled networking event under the premise of “what if”, let me say that when we are not selective and strategic about our time, energy, and money commitments, our business stagnates.

6. Identify and allocate resources. With a clear understanding of your goals and promises for the upcoming quarter, ascertain the time, money, people, and knowledge, including new information or skills needed, to fulfill your commitments.

7. Set approximate time frames. Determine the estimated time frame for launching the initiatives identified for achievement during the next three months. Be sure to enter them into your calendar so they don’t get lost in the flurry of day-to-day business. You will refer to them when conducting monthly business planning.

Although it’s challenging to do what’s best rather than what’s convenient or comfortable, the resources required to get you back on course once you’ve lost your focus are far greater. The strategy of small business planning conducted quarterly is critical for your business growth. It keeps you focused and on track.

Are you ready to get a jump start on your quarterly planning? Schedule your complimentary strategy consultation today! The first 30 minutes is on us!

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BTW, if you’ve not yet completed a strategic plan for your business and need a place to start, download our free 46 page workbook, The Solopreneurs Guide to Strategic Planning, here.

Someone once said, “People don’t plan to fail—they fail to plan.” Undoubtedly, none of us plan to fail but without an ongoing business planning process in position, we certainly are planning to be overwhelmed, distracted, and pulled off course on a regular basis.

As small business entrepreneurs who willingly adopt an ongoing business planning process, we can enjoy that “pot of gold” of greater efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, clients, and revenue…no matter how much business planning makes your stomach turn.

To support your planning and performance efforts, we created the Daily Goal Planner.

Its purpose is twofold: keep you focused on the most critical activities to move your business forward and shift you from “doing your business” to “growing your business”. You can download it here for free. With your weekly plan for success in place, you’re ready to properly plan each day to make sure your primary focus is on actions directly linked to achieving your goals.

Using the Daily Goal Planner, follow these five steps to move toward your goals each and every day:

1. Enter your Long Term Goals.

The primary importance of setting goals is to provide direction and purpose. Clear, concise goals keep you focused and precede success. When setting your goals, be sure they are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The duration of a long-term goal varies from business-to-business; however, most experts recommend a period of 3-5 years

2. Record your Short Term Goals.

The period of effectiveness for a short term goal, much like the long-term goal, is business-dependant. When establishing the time duration for your business, select that which gives you the greatest degree of clarity and focus. For most, this is one month. Make sure your short-term goal(s), aligns with your long-term goal(s)

Although the Daily Goal Planner allows you to enter and save data, we strongly recommend you re-enter your long and short-term goals each day to reinforce your direction and strengthen your goals.

3. Determine your Top Priority.

Although it seems like everything takes precedence, when it comes to achieving goals, your top priority consist of the most important project and/or action that advance your short and long-term goals.

4. Design your day.

Equipped with the top priority needed to further your short and long-term goals, you’re ready to plan your day. Considering all previous commitments, set aside the time required to accomplish your top priority.

5. Catalog your To Do.

This is where you list other actions in need of your attention for the day. Be careful not to list more than what realistically can be completed given your known time availability.

With your goals clearly defined and focused on your top priorities, you are ready to launch a high performance day. Here’s to planning for success! It’s magically delicious!

Small business entrepreneurs have one thing in common – the desire for more clients – especially those who align with the strategic goals of your business. Acquiring the perfect client – and growing your business – doesn’t happen randomly. Obtaining new clients requires planning for success.

For most entrepreneurs, each week begins with a lengthy list of incomplete tasks from last week, an enormous inventory of tasks to complete this week, and several brightly burning fires demanding attention.  Before coming up for air from your inbox, the time intended for client acquisition has vanished. Your capacity to acquire clients and grow your business disappears.

Achieve Differently? Learn to Plan Differently

To build your capacity for more clients, begin each week with a step-by-step business planning process. Planning for success on a weekly basis is primarily tactical. It uncovers nonproductive time and brings formerly unidentified resources, such as time, to light.

1. Schedule strategic thinking and planning time weekly. My ideal business growth planning time is Monday morning. This is scheduled before reading email. Once my inbox is cracked open, all bets are off for planning! Friday afternoon can also be a good time for planning.

No matter what day or time you select, make sure it’s scheduled in your calendar each week. You’ll want to allocate a minimum of one hour to planning for success.

2. Recap, celebrate, analyze, and learn. To avoid making repeated tactical errors week after week, spend the first 15 minutes of your business planning process by taking note of your previous week’s activities and results. This aspect of business growth planning allows you to more thoughtful and self-aware about what you need to succeed in business.

  • What goals and plans were achieved?
  • What’s worked well?
  • What am I doing to celebrate my achievement?  (Celebrating your victories is a nice reminder of the process you’re making.)
  • What goal(s) or plan(s) went unaccomplished?
  • What caused my plan to go off course?
  • What tactics will I implement this week to ensure I stay on course?
  • What insights and/or learning did I experience that will be carried forward?

Journaling your responses helps anchor your learning.

3. Plan your upcoming week. From the analysis conducted in step two, apply your conclusions to your upcoming week.

  • What are my goals for the upcoming week?  (Refer to your ongoing monthly business growth planning to keep you focused.)
  • Restate your goals in the form of questions to begin the process of action planning.
  • What tasks are required for goal achievement?
  • What resources are needed to achieve my plans, including time, money, and people?
  • What day and time will my plans be executed? (Scheduling actions in your calendar ensures the tasks are completed.)

Challenges/Conflicts: There’s often conflict when various projects  and commitments  vie for the same resources. Evaluate your plan. Check for potential conflicts. Prune activities and renegotiate where possible.

The business planning process – whether conducted annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly – is not the most favorite activity for most small business entrepreneurs. For that reason, I’m renaming “business planning” to “success planning”! It certainly would make it a more compelling activity.  You in?

Related blog posts:

Unzip Your Success! 5 Types of Planning Every Small Business Needs

Betting on Business Growth? Don’t Snub the Importance of Planning

Let Monthly Business Growth Planning Keep You Focused 

Rising Above Roadblock to Strategic Planning: The Mind Space

Strategic Planning Workbook – Free Download 

Do you hear the familiar sound of overwhelm that is a constant companion to entrepreneurs? It swirls around creating this horrible gulping noise as it drains growth out of our business. And, as one of my smart, gifted clients so aptly pointed out, a swirl always goes down – never up.

Swirling happens when entrepreneurs grow and run their business – randomly. With no clear goal or plan in place, priceless resources get whirled down the drain. Sound familiar? Want to stop the swirl?

An ongoing business planning process actually helps you plan for your business growth – rather than hope for business growth. Here are 5 steps to a monthly planning process for business growth including discovery questions to lead you to some vital conclusions:

1. Goal. The best place to start is to know your goal. Ask this simple question:

    • What is/are my goal(s) for the month?

If you’re uncertain or lost focus of your goal, the Goal Workbook is an important resource. Be sure to align your monthly goal with your larger strategic business goals

2. Resources. Make sure you have the time, money, people, knowledge, & skill set to make your goals a reality. Ask yourself:

    • What resources are at my disposal this month to budget toward my goals?

3. Commitment. Like most entrepreneurs, you likely make commitments months in advance. Be sure to take these into consideration when planning for business growth. To ensure the necessary resources to honor previous and current commitments, these are questions to raise:

    • What promises have been made for this month?
    • What resources need to be allocated to these obligations?
    • What commitments no longer align with my goals and need to be renegotiated?

4. Plan. You’ve heard it said, “People don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan”. Planning for business growth is essential  for your business. These questions unearth the strategic actions needed to achieve your goals.

    • What actionable items make my goal a reality?
    • What resources are needed to implement my plan?
    • Are there sufficient resources to put  my plan in operation? If not, what needs to be adjusted and/or scaled to align my resources with my plan and goals?
    • What plan ensures goal achievement this month?

5. Challenges. No business is without its occasional problem.  And, who would think to include challenges or difficulties into your business growth planning? You would! When  integrated with business growth planning, their impact on your business is reduced. Use these questions to uncover potential “flies gumming up the works” .

    • What challenges do I anticipate?
    • What can possibly go wrong?
    • What can be done to minimize their occurrence and/or impact on my goals?

An active, ongoing business planning process is essential to stay focused on your goals in this “distraction economy”. Monthly planning for business growth guarantees your business continues to move forward. Make it a regular event in your calendar knowing this is a critical piece of your ongoing business planning process.

Planning – like focus – is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

end of year business planning

Small business entrepreneurs are familiar with start-up planning, exit strategy planning, and strategic planning. And, entrepreneurs who excel at planning often find themselves victims of their own planning process. As planning pays off, and business grows, many entrepreneurs ditch the business planning process that set off their business growth.

end of year business planning

The Business Planning Dilemma 

Absent an ongoing, active planning process, it’s easy to become disorganized and unfocused. Distractions, interruptions, and unplanned requests of others create competing priorities for your time. Sadly, this misaligned approach leaves the most critical business growth activities unfinished.

Your business gets stuck in neutral while precious time is spent on lesser valued activities. Even though you’re getting things done, you want to make sure you’re doing the right things to ensure your small business growth. Are you ready to shift gears?

The Importance of Business Planning 

To succeed in an “interruption economy”, an active, ongoing planning process is essential for small businesses. Active ongoing planning is the kind of planning that allows you to focus on the critical activities that move your business forward.

An ongoing planning process is known to save time, reduce stress, incite happiness, and spark greater satisfaction. Plus, you’ll worry less about having time to address the important business growth initiatives.

Spoiler alert! Discipline and leadership required to implement!

Frequency of Business Planning

An active, ongoing planning process consists of five (5) phases: 

  1. Annual Strategic Planning
  2. Quarterly Planning
  3. Monthly Planning
  4. Weekly Planning
  5. Daily Planning

Planning is the most important activity for your business. It keeps your focus razor-sharp. Plus, it helps to use your time wisely to complete the initiatives that move your business forward.

Are you ready to unzip your success and grow your business? If so, we invite you to join Eureka, our online business community where the ongoing conversations unravel the complexity and chaos of business planning. 

time management tips for small business

Do you feel as though time is like a Twinkie? With no expiration date, time is frittered away on useless, non-income producing activities. No wonder many business owners are underearning and overworked.

Best Used Before…time management tips for small business

Each minute that tics off your clock is gone forever, especially if you’re a service provider where time is money. As a service professional, you can’t produce more time to replace that which is squandered on non-goal achieving business activities.

You can, however, use your time strategically and transform your business.

Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners 

1. Set clear goals. Goals that are crystal clear inspire, motivate, and direct your behavior to those activities that continually move your business forward. Set your sails to make sure your small business is heading in the right direction.

2. Plan your moments. Time easily slips away without a plan. As a small business owner, you want to experience steady, sustainable growth within each moment of time. Download the Core Business Assessment and discover the activities that grow your small business.

3. Focus each day on high priority activities. Have you noticed you have more to-dos than time in your day? When priority activities — those that contribute directly to your small business goals — are first on your to-achieve list, they get done.

4. Set boundaries. Do you let others stealing your high-valued time? It’s easy to do. Yes, when non-essential, non-priority distractions and interruptions are allowed, critical goal-achieving time expires. You can actually achieve your goals with greater ease and less stress when you create parameters that support your goal-achieving time.

5. Respect commitments made to yourself. How well do you honor promises to yourself? Did you commit to 2 hours of strategic thinking this week yet never got to it? Did a more fun offer come along? Did you poke around on Facebook until it was too late to start? It happens, doesn’t it. Yet, you wouldn’t disregard a promise made to a client. Run your business without regret. Keep your word to yourself. 

Think about it. Milk has a longer expiration date than time. So, put a value on your time. Learn to use your precious time to your greatest benefit for your business.

After all, time is not a Twinkie!

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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