5 Steps to Smarter Planning for Creative Business
Have you ever been excited by a dozen new ideas for business growth (create an opt-in offer!, try using a landing page!, blog for more Pinterest traffic!, etc.), yet accomplished none of them? Even worse than not accomplishing your big ideas is realizing that you haven’t even taken the necessary first steps!
It happens to us all. When we get down to brass tacks, most of us are doing a lot more considering + thinking than we are growing + achieving.
I’m Lisa Jacobs, author of Your Best Year 2016: Productivity Workbook and Creative Business Planner, and for years, I was doing what I call the “daily scramble” in business.
Sadly, this is how the majority of creative business owners operate. The daily scramble means you wake up today and ask yourself: What am I going to do today to get some sales already? And the scramble begins!
“Why, I’ll send an email! I’ll promote this post on Facebook! I’ll make four new products and list them in the shop, and then I’ll tweet each of them so everyone will come check them out!”
I, myself, scrambled for four years! And while I was making sales and turning a profit, I only knew how to create the results I was creating. In other words, I desperately wanted to triple my website traffic, double my income, and create career breakthroughs, but I didn’t know how to actually achieve any of it!
Thankfully, I’ve created a better system! I’m here to share 5 steps to smarter business planning with you today.
5 Steps to Smarter Planning
#1 Understand your business’ needs. I know you’ve been excited by a dozen new ideas to grow your business … and accomplished none of them. It’s happened to me, too.
I liken this excitement and intake of fresh ideas to starting a road trip. You want to reach several destinations: Pittsburgh, Orlando, Phoenix, and Seattle, and you’re trying to reach them all at the same time.
It’s not only impossible to achieve several destinations at once, doing so actually paralyzes your progress.
When you chase a dozen fresh ideas at once, it’s as if you’re metaphorically getting into your car for a road trip and driving a little toward Pittsburgh, a little toward Orlando, a little toward Phoenix, and a little toward Seattle in the same day. You’re getting nowhere fast!
The trick is to always know what you need to work on next for your business’ growth using 3 key metrics to measure it: website traffic, email opt-ins, and email conversion.
Start tracking your stats, figure out which of these areas is the weakest, and focus all of your efforts (and training investments) on improving THAT key metric specifically. Once you start to see results, decide which weak point you’ll work on next.
There’s ALWAYS more to learn, and there’s ALWAYS more to improve, so you have to prioritize your time by strengthening the weak points, and homing in on one key factor at a time.
#2 Move the needle. If you’re anything like I was, you’re showing up year after year in business, doing the same things and expecting different results. Let me save you the five years it took me to learn this lesson: That strategy doesn’t work! Yet almost every creative I encounter is stuck in that very rut.
I started this year determined to move the needle. I was committed to making changes in my life once and for all, in both life and business. Let me turn the tables on you the way I turn them on myself:
- What results were you expecting in 2015?
- For those goals you didn’t meet, why do you think you didn’t achieve them?
It’s funny how long we’ll repeat what’s not working in our lives, all the while truly, madly, deeply wishing for change. The goal-setting concepts I created for Your Best Year are the exact strategies that have helped me to identify what’s not working in my business and optimize what does work to its highest potential. In fact, it’s the reason I’m celebrating my most productive, most profitable, and biggest breakthrough year of all time.
#3 Create a flexible system. This may sound simple, but it was a game-changer for my career.
Typical life and business advice will tell you to make a 6-month, 1-year, 5-year and 10-year plan. That’s just never worked for me. At all. Why? Because I don’t have a traditional career with a foreseeable trajectory. I’ve chased big dreams because it seemed like what I was supposed to do next, only to find out that I hated the work! That throws most conventional 10-year plans out the window.
If you’re anything like me, you try to plan six months in advance, only to end up with a planner full of cross-outs, chicken scratch, and arrows to redirect it all. Your Best Year 2016 is uniquely inventive that way: it’s designed to get you OUT of the daily scramble (because we’re the only small businesses in the world that try to operate day-by-day), all the while allowing for your annual plans to shift and align with your interests as you go.
#4 Set lofty goals. I call it the “If I Knew I Could Not Fail, I Would …” exercise.
Words cannot express how powerful this exercise is, and it’s time for you to think up your wildest, most amazing dreams imaginable. Then, go make them happen! 2016 is as shapable as a fresh block of clay. Some prompts to get you started:
- What are some things you could be doing, but have been too afraid to try?
- How can you stretch your comfort zone in the coming year?
- What is the #1 thing you would do if you had unlimited resources and you knew you could not fail?
- What is the worst thing that could happen if you actually went for it in 2016?
#5 Protect your vision. Once you create a list of lofty goals, expect everyone besides the people who love and know you best to think you’re crazy (and get used to it).
I’m sure you can imagine the looks I get when friends and extended family come over to my house (which I never leave to “go to work”), and I tell them I plan to make $100,000 this year. HA!
My business lives online, as do my colleagues and dream clients and customers. None of that makes sense to my friends and extended family because they can’t see it, nor have they ever heard of such a thing before.
Disclaimer: If you aim to truly stretch yourself, you WILL face paralyzing fear, doubt, mental + emotional blocks along the way.
It’s guaranteed! And I want you to appreciate every time those insecurities appear. Anxieties around your business are there to show you what you’re afraid of so that you can unblock and overcome them.
Make 2016 Your Best Year Yet
If you loved this article, Your Best Year 2016 is a no-brainer investment for your business. It’s an absolute monster, hungry for your obstacles and starved for your achievement. It was made for you. Use this revolutionary system designed specifically for creatives to build a fluid, long-term plan and create the results you want!
Until next time and all the best, Lisa Jacobs