Tuesday, December 16, 2008

30-Day Biz Planning Challenge: How Kim Does It

There are as many ways to do business plans as there are creative professionals. But you wouldn't know that looking at the business planning section of your local library. So in this challenge, I've enlisted some friends and colleagues to describe the way they found their business plans and what works for them. I'm hoping one of them will inspire you.

Today's post comes from freelancer Kimberly Olson , who has covered many topics, including architecture and design, health, business and technology, for 15 years. How does she do it? It turns out she asks herself some simple questions. Here, she shares them with you.

Some say January 1 is a day like any other. Nothing to get excited about. I couldn’t disagree more. The New Year—as arbitrary as the date may be—offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not. For me, it’s a time filled with the hope of new possibilities.

So as 2009 approaches, I’ve been immersed in what has become an annual ritual—setting my business goals for the upcoming year.

Whether you want to raise your income or take a longer vacation this year, you need a game plan. Developing a clear strategy with small, doable steps will help keep you on track. So plop down with paper and pen and answer the following questions:

What do you want to achieve in 2009?
Would you like to bring in ten new clients? Create a Web site for your business? Get more media attention? Write down your goals—and be specific.

What action steps will you take to get there?
Think about the steps you’ll need to take to achieve each goal. If you dream of getting your Web site up, you’ll need to write your Web content (or hire someone to do it). Find a Web designer. Research Web hosting companies. Jot down the tasks involved and estimate how long each step will take.

Bonus points: Develop a task schedule to help you stick with your program. If your goal is to bring in more clients, for example, make a commitment to reach out to a specific number of prospective clients each month. Then, beginning in January, keep a log of your accomplishments to track your progress and stay motivated.

What barriers might prevent you from taking your action steps?
Think about what has prevented you from achieving your goal in the past and come up with some strategies for overcoming barriers. If you still haven’t taken that evening marketing class, why not ask a friend to join you? We’re more likely to follow through if we know someone else is counting on us.

Who will be your support person?
No matter how committed you are to achieving your goal, there will be days when you’ll wonder what you were thinking when you decided to boost your profile by doing a public speaking engagement for 500 people. On days like these, it’s important to have someone to turn to who can cheer you on. Support people may also have helpful ideas for overcoming barriers to success.

How will you reward yourself?
Setting up a reward system for yourself can help keep you motivated throughout the year. You released your first e-newsletter? Treat yourself to a movie. You just scored that blue-chip client? Schedule a massage. Of course, as you achieve these mini-steps, the greatest reward will be forthcoming—as your business booms!

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