This is a post about planning. Kind of. But not really. Read on.
It seems to be that time of year that everyone is frantically planning for the new year in their business. I’m seeing yearly planners popping up all over Facebook, business coaches are creating courses to help other businesses plan their year, and when I asked in my Facebook community what people want to read about in my next blog post, an alarming number wanted a post about how to plan their 2015.
So here it is. My blog post about planning. But be warned that this won’t be your typical planning post with timelines and worksheets and neat little tools to help you stay on track and get your business all ready to go so that you know exactly what you are doing and when in 2015.
Why won’t it be that?
Because I don’t really believe in planning.
And I don’t believe in planning ESPECIALLY for brand new business owners like you who are still finding your way, still taking the necessary time to carve out your niche, to define your packages, and to figure this whole “running your own business” thing out.
I mean think about it – if you’re just starting your business, you probably aren’t even sure yet if your current services will sell (in fact, you might still be terrified that you will be broke and client-less forever, and you might not even be sure whether you will still have a business in 2015 if things don’t pick up). You probably have no idea how many clients you want to take on at once (“As many as possible” is not a good answer). You’re in the dark about how much money it will actually cost to run your business, so planning finances is tricky. And you definitely don’t know where you will be even 3 months from now, let alone 6, let alone an entire year.
Sure, you can set goals and aim for certain benchmarks, but at the end of the day, until you have been running your business at a steady pace with consistent programs and income for at least 6 months, it is pretty damn hard to plan anything.
Planning doesn’t account for the fact that your business will change immensely in the course of a year.
You could sit down and make an entire editorial calendar for your blog and email marketing (if you’re into that kind of thing). You could decide on which months you will run each of your current programs (not a bad idea, actually, once you’re clear on what you are actually running). And what time each day you will check your emails (once a day only? Puh-lease! That has never worked for me! I check it about 100 times a day). And you can map out how much money you will be bringing in based on what you are selling (or want to sell) (definitely a good idea, but ONLY after you nail down your packages and services)
But all of that assumes that things in your business will stay the same. That your focus won’t shift. That your clients won’t want anything new, and that what you are selling now is perfect.
And how can you know any of that for sure if you are just getting started?
Your business will change more in the first year than probably any other time, and all your plans will go out the window.
You know what else planning doesn’t account for? Changing your mind. Getting creative ideas on a whim and banging them out in a week. Deciding that you absolutely MUST go on that last minute rendezvous to Nicaragua with that hot guy you started dating in early 2015 but didn’t know you would be dating when you did all your planning in late 2014.
I mean – I can’t even plan my life 5 months ahead, let alone 5 years.
I think it’s part of the Uncaged syndrome. We like movement. Change. Spontaneity.
It’s part of why we want to run our own businesses in the first place – to have the freedom to change our minds, whenever we need to, based on what LIFE is offering us.
When you’re just starting your business, having to sit down and hammer out numbers and details can be… overwhelming, to say the least.
So then – should you just NOT plan anything?
Well… I’m not necessarily advocating that. But if you’re just starting out and you’re still tinkering with your services, and still trying to work with enough people to get clear on EXACTLY what your expertise is – then maybe NO planning is actually the best option.
Give your business room to breathe. And grow. And change. Without all the added pressure.
Remember that everyone runs their business differently, and what works for one person won’t work for another.
Wanna see what my “plan” was for 2014? Keep in mind this was a time when my business was pretty solid and I was very clear on what I do, who I help, and what my signature packages are. Here it is:
Literally. That was it.
Wanna know what changed in it? Everything.
1. I planned and ran a whole other retreat in July, so had to slot that in.
2. I decided to take the summer off, so I skipped UYB in August and September and ran it in October instead.
3. I created Nailed It! (which wasn’t even made yet when I wrote this plan) and changed the name to Hey, Nice Package! and had such great feedback that I raised the price to double what I was expecting to charge (I also invested 5x more in creating it than I thought I would).
4. Ellen and I decided to hand over the reigns of Coaching Business Jumpstart to her so she would expand the program and combine it with her current services, so we never did a live version, and I stopped actively marketing it (though I still fully support and believe in the program – it is rad!)
5. I decided I LOVED doing my Message Sessions and that 2 a month weren’t enough slots as they were selling out quickly, so I upped it to 4 per month.
As you can see – even with a plan, things changed.
The gist is – not everyone works on a timeline and a plan. Not everyone operates best with a strict editorial calendar and launch schedule. Not everyone runs their business the same way.
And by trying to follow someone else’s formula all the time, you’re guaranteed to get squished into a box, feel overwhelmed, and constantly be searching for the “right” way to do things. Which is the opposite of creating your business the Uncaged way, right?
If you’re just at the beginning stages of your business, my vote is for you to throw planning out the window and just make sure that you are taking consistent action everyday.
Write blog posts. Work with as many clients as possible. Do your market research and really LISTEN to what people need you to create. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can to as many people as you can.
Keep doing it.
And then don’t stop. And then in a year, after you have played, and experimented, and failed, and scrapped ideas and programs, and started again (and maybe even again) – when you’ve gotten clear as cocaine about what you do and why and for whom, THEN you can think about putting a plan in place.
And even then – find YOUR way of doing it.
What’s your planning strategy? Do you feel like you need to plan down to the last detail, or do you fly by the seat of your pants? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!