Friday, December 12, 2008

30-Day Biz Planning Challenge: Choose a Module, Any Module

Yesterday, Tim Berry shared some great advice. Let's hear it again:
Think of a plan as a collection of separate thoughts, bullet points, maybe a table of dates and dealines, and some projections, including a few key strategy points like what you're writing for whom and what target media, some goals and objectives, a definition of success, and a lot of specific concrete steps to be taken -- dates, deadlines, task responsibilities -- and then add some basic numbers, like sales and expenses.

You don't have to stop time and suspend life and business while you do the whole thing from start to finish. On the contrary, start anywhere, get going. Pick a module to do first, whether it's target market conceptually or specific sales forecast or whatever, and do that, start using that, and go on with your business.
But if you're new to business planning, what modules should you include? I can't answer definitively, but these are some of the modules I include. Check out the list, snatch one of them and get started on it. Then let me know how it's working for you.

I break it down by several types of modules. Today, I'll start with the big picture and in later posts, I'll break it down more specifically. Feel inspired? Get started today!

First is ideological:

I know, you're wondering what morals have to do with business. To which I say: A lot. Serenity in business is about focusing on what you can control and shifting your attention away from what you can't. But it's also about doing work that's in alignment with your highest aspirations. Ideally, work feeds both your soul and your bank account. But to do that, you have to know what they are.

Here's how you find out. Each of these are modules. Do one at a time. List your:
  • Loftiest professional values;
  • Personal and community values;
  • Responsibilities; and
  • Weaknesses.
Some of these will be professional. Two of my professional values are creativity and honesty. One of my personal values is spirituality. I also value health. And it's my responsibility to pay my bills. All these go into this.

When your client asks (or you wonder) what you have to offer, this list will tell you. Here, it's helpful to have saved emails of praise from clients and readers. They are better able to tell you what your skills are than you , because your clients are the ones to whom your services need to be of value. Skills can include:
  • Professional skills: ability to type while interviewing, writing evocatively, working collaboratively with editors, being good at short turn-around assignments, and being responsive to queries, among others.
  • Personal skills: If you're the head of your homeowners association, you better believe you have conflict resolution skills and leadership skills.
  • Personal expertise: If you used to make dolls of yarn and sell them at the swap meet, you have expertise in both crafting and haggling. If you've been going to the gym forever, you may have expertise on how not to use the equipment or how to care for injured knees or shoulders. If you started, as I did, this year visiting a body worker, you have experience using alternative methods to heal physical illnesses.
Everything in your life is grist for this mill. When we get to a later module on the types of things you want to cover, you'll be primed to discuss adding or changing coverage areas.

Mission Statement, AKA your elevator speech.
Everyone needs one. Now that you've assessed your values and skills, you know what you can include in it. It should be one or two sentences that describe what you love about your job, what you do well, and what you cover. And it should help guide your business decisions in the next year.

After all, you can ask yourself: Does this assignment fit into my mission?

Next, I'll share modules for evaluating your 2008 business.

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