Wednesday, December 10, 2008

30-Day Biz Planning Challenge: Learning Your Way

What kind of business planner are you?

Not long ago, I wrote a package of stories on crisis management for Momentum Magazine, the Magazine of the National MS Society. And while business planning isn't the same as managing a chronic, degenerative disease, planning for changes and crisis is what business planning is all about.

One of the stories was about how to go about finding the information you need to plan successfully. For those of you who find business planning overwhelming, take note. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself, according to Dr. Rosalind Kalb, a clinical psychologist and vice president of the Professional Resource Center at the National MS Society:

How much information do you really need?
Some people can only plan when they have all the information they can possibly find--when they have made themselves into an expert. Others would be overwhelmed by so much information and need to learn in small, digestible chunks. Which are you?

How best do you learn?
Some people relate best to books, others are best educated by a five-minute podcast or by online forums like this blog. Still others need a teacher to take them by the hand and show them the way.

What information should you trust?
Not all business planning advice will work for you and not all suggestions apply. Find sources you trust--whether because you want what that professional has or their advice jibes with your sense of the world--and find out how they're doing it.

What I learned when I started considering a business plan was that I needed a class. I couldn't digest piecemeal information or really "get it" from reading a book. I kept asking, "How does this apply to me?" and "Am I doing this right?"

So I found a class, and it made all the difference. The support, the constant feedback and reassurance, and the cameraderie with the other students made it seem less scary. The structure of a class comforted me.

If you're like me, allow me to recommend the business planning class taught by successful freelancer Erik Sherman. His approach is both holistic (considering your whole life and how your business can support your personal goals) and specific (how many queries do you need to send, etc.).

He's offering the class again next month, and I can't recommend it enough. If you have some end-of-year spending to do and you want and require one-on-one guidance, consider it. Space is limited to check it out soon.

(And lest you worry that this is some kind of advertisement, let me reassure you: I'm not getting paid for this.)

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