I highly recommend listening to this audio version of the post on SoundCloud! In the audio version, I go more in-depth on each topic to discuss and provide tons of guidance!
Today I'm talking about how you can do strategic planning for your business year with a business friend! If you're anything like me you might work solo. I don't have any employees, and my friend Jena is the exact same way. So last week, we went to her coworking space, and we helped each other map out things we want to do in our businesses in 2019. You guys... It was so helpful! We got so much done. It was awesome having a friend to talk through all of this with, instead of just doing it alone. You certainly can set these kinds of goals completely alone, and I've done that before, but it was just so unique to have someone who's a friend AND business owner to bounce ideas off of. Jena and I have been friends about a year now, and we've worked together too. I did her branding and website design earlier this year! It was so fun to get to work together on that. We technically have very different businesses in a lot of ways, but we're still both kind of in the online space. She is a career coach and does a lot of 1:1 coaching with clients and is also in the process of working on course creation, a podcast, and all kinds of things like that. She's a business friend who I trust, and who understands me well because we're real friends. Plus, we understand each other's businesses well since we've worked together.
I'm going to tell you guys about the exact questions we asked, what we talked about... all the nitty-gritty details, so that you guys can do the same kind of thing with your business BFF. Plus, enter your info below, to get a free Google Docs template you can download to guide your time together as you plan out your year!
The Schedule for the Day:
We went to Jena's coworking space in Nashville. We met there at 9 a.m. and did our planning until about 3:30, with an hour and a half lunch break in the middle. During our lunch break, we just hung out and ate some really good burgers and then got Jeni's ice cream after. The coworking space we went to is called Meet + Greet in Nashville — it's super cute. Since she was already a member at the coworking space we didn't have to pay any additional fees to have the room, which was great. We had a big room with a nice whiteboard and plenty of table space. It was a really great setup. I would highly suggest going somewhere similar to this where you can have a whiteboard of some sort and just away from the noise of everyday life. Another great option would be a home office or even a library or university room.
When we were focusing on one of our businesses, the other person would take notes. For example, I would take notes for Jena when she's talking so that she could just focus on brainstorming and not having to type anything. We created a Google Doc for each of us and shared it with the other person. (Scroll down just a tad to get your free Google Doc to guide your questions!) When it was time for using the whiteboard, we typically had the person who was talking about their business do the writing on the whiteboard.
Now, onto the nitty gritty of what to talk about!
1. Reflect back on 2018:
Ask the questions:
- What went well?
- What didn't go well?
- What did you love working on?
- What did you dislike working on?
It was good thinking back over the year. We both talked about the highlights of the year, and various accomplishments — whether financial or something like working with a dream client. We thought through things we really liked doing in our business, and things that were tough. This is so good to point out on the front end because you start to see patterns of what you need to do more of in 2019 and what you need to figure out a way to get rid of. With this question, it's good for you to answer it, while your friend takes notes on it for you.
2. Look at your metrics:
The next thing we talked about is our metrics.
Questions to ask:
- What did your metrics look like for 2018?
- What do you want them to look like in 2019?
- What was your biggest moneymaker for the year?
- What are your least profitable offerings?
- How much revenue did you bring in and how much profit?
- What is the financial change from the year before?
- How much did you spend in your business?
- Was that more or less than you want it to be?
- What's your income goal for 2019?
So, obviously, we talked about money, which Is something in our online business world you don't really hear people talk about that much. You hear people throw around things like"six figures". But, not really talking about "How much did you actually make month to month?", "What was the spending like to get you there?", and "How many clients did you have to take on to get to that amount?". I highly suggest having a friend who you can open up with about this because it will really be eye-opening to see someone else's business, how much they made, how much they spent, how much they had to work to get there, and that kind of thing. Jena and I are both in really similar places in our business, which is also helpful.
For this question, in particular, you'll probably want to do some work on it beforehand to get your numbers straight. The day before we met, I sat down with my spreadsheets from 2017 and 2018, and I looked at what percent increase that I have in revenue from the year before and what were some changes in how many clients I worked with from year to year, and things like that. So, I came into this conversation already having notes on this to talk about, which is really helpful.
3. Idea Brainstorming:
This one's all about your BIG ideas, and asking yourself “What do I want to create in 2019?” This is where we pulled out the whiteboard to take notes! We broke this down into 4 categories.
- Things I'm already offering to generate profits
- Things I might want to offer to generate a profit
- Marketing/content creation I'm already doing
- Marketing/content creation I might want to do
For example, in my business, I'm already generating profit with my website template store. I might want to offer an online course. With marketing, I already have a blog, and I might want to start a podcast.
We also looked at the nitty gritty numbers for these ideas. From the previous question, we knew our income goals for 2019. We tried, as closely as possible, to map out what needs to happen within these income generators to get to the goal number. Look at the things you're thinking about offering and be realistic with how much time/energy/work it will take to get there. And again, that's why it's helpful to have content from the previous year so you can know how much you had to do to get to your previous goal.
4. The Non-Negotiables
Ask: What are my non-negotiables for 2019?
These are things you either WANT to do or DON'T want to do in the new year that apply to any aspect of your business. This is where you might want to look back at number 1 at the things you didn't' enjoy. For example, some of my non-negotiables were that I don't want to overbook myself with too many clients. I did that at one point in 2018, and it was really hard! And then a thing I DO want to do was to give myself slow Monday mornings as a start to the week. Again, this is something you guys will take turns taking notes of each other on.
5. Map it all out.
First let me say, after those first 4 steps, we took a lunch break. I think we took a break probably at like 12:00 or so. Our brains were a little tired from steps 1-4, so you'll probably feel ready for a lunch break like we did! When we came back we were to map everything out. Originally when we started planning the strategy day, we were going to map out all 4 quarters of the year. Then we realized we actually can't figure out what we're going to do in third quarter and fourth quarter because we need to know what happens in the first quarter and second quarter to really figure it out. So instead, we focused on strategically mapping out the first two quarters when it came to what we're actually going to be offering, selling, and launching. I think we'll do this again, six months later to plan the rest of the year.
Questions to ask:
- What's already on the calendar?
- What Do I want to be launching?
- What new or current projects could I work on during this time?
- What specific dates do I need to set for these items?
For me, I'm able to literally write my clients names on there because I have their project dates already set. I wrote down the business conference I'm attending, my mastermind retreat dates, and things like that. Then we can ask "Looking at what you already have workload wise, what else can we add?" We didn't just think about what we would launch, but also marketing stuff that we might want to do that isn't revenue generating. We also mapped out action steps for some of the projects we were considering. It's so easy to have a big dream for your business, but then be held back by not knowing where to start. So, action steps are key!
That's it! We wrapped up after mapping everything out and called it a day. I highly suggest you do this with a business friend, even if it's with an online friend, via a Zoom meeting! I hope this was SO helpful to you! Let me know if you guys have any questions, and I would love to hear if you do this strategy day!
December 10, 2018