Beaumont Communications Lausanne planning tips

How to plan when you don’t have a plan

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

I’ve always been a planner. When revising for exams, much to my parents’ chagrin, most of my time was actually taken up by writing (and then colour coding) a revision plan. After I graduated and joined the real world, my love of planning became less of a method of procrastination and more of a professional asset.

As any fule kno (and it’s something I covered in my last post) planning is essential if you’re going to run a campaign (or a business) that is successful and effective. Through proper planning, you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.

My planning problem started when I set up my first business. Here I was, an entrepreneurial newbie, with very little idea on what I wanted to achieve aside from “make some money”.

How could I plan and set goals on where I needed to be in three, six, twelve months? What was realistic? What was achievable? What would increase my chances of achieving my objective to “make some money”?

How to get going when you don’t know where you’re going

1. Start small

What’s the smallest thing you can do to progress your business? Make a list of all these little things, these 15-minute jobs, these small steps. Maybe it’s “follow up on 3 people in my pipeline”, or “draft a post for Linkedin”, or even, “research useful articles on planning”.

Any time you find yourself staring at facebook or twitter, or lost in a Reddit vortex, look at your list, pick something, do it, tick it off. Well done, you’re now making progress.

That said, it’s important to concentrate on outcomes, and not just outputs. You could spend a week churning out stuff and still not be any closer to your overall objectives by Friday. Therefore, it’s important to…

2. Schedule thinking time

I know I sound like a broken record, but honestly, objectives are so important. Coming up with a robust long term plan won’t happen overnight, however. You’ve got to take the time to sit and think.

Taking our mantra of “start small” to heart, set a weekly objective first. When that’s achieved, move to setting a monthly objective. Then, when you’re a little steadier on your feet, you can start your long-range planning process.

Make planning a part of your daily routine. You spend a certain amount on emails a day, right? You set aside time for pipeline development? Why not put some time by for planning too?

You can’t work on the fly forever.

3. Be accountable

Accountability is a huge thing for me, and something I’ve struggled with working on my own. When you work in an office, you’re always accountable. Your boss wants to know how you’re getting on, their boss wants to know. When you work for yourself, you’re your boss.

I recently joined a group called the Producerati. This community of highly motivated, intelligent, and driven entrepreneurs all subscribe to the view that accountability helps you drive your business forward.

Every month, we define our goals, and each week we commit to completed a subgoal. If you don’t show proof of progress (in emails, screenshots, shared documents) then you’re out. Tough love from the creator of the Mimic Method, but it works. In the two weeks I’ve been fully integrated into the system, I’ve achieved more towards growing my business than I did in the previous two months.

Accountability works. If you don’t want to join an online group, why not find a friend or mentor who can help you keep on track. Even the act of having to write a monthly email to them explaining what you’ve achieved and why it furthers your business will really help.

What are your planning tips? How to you keep yourself on track?

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