A lot of small business owners get stuck in the idea that all businesses should run the exact same way! No way!
Here’s the thing about small business owners: we are all different! Our reasons for becoming entrepreneurs vary from always wanting to run our own business to wanting to spend more time at home with our families (or both). But when it comes to things like business planning, most coaches and programs treat every small business owner the same. And if you don’t fit into that narrow preconception, you’re going to be out of luck.
I’ll give you a perfect example when it comes to creating a business plan. Some small business owners are all about the numbers. They have spreadsheets galore, absolutely packed full of information.
Others want everything in writing. They create smart, tightly-written business plans that lay out everything in words.
But what if you’re not a numbers person OR a writing person? What if you are a more visual person who thinks in graphics and images? Well, then I have the perfect solution for you! Create your business plan… as a vision board!
Keep It In Your Office
My personal strategy is to use both a business planner AND a vision board. Studies have shown that Vision Boards can work wonders at helping to keep you on track at visualizing your long-term plans.
For my business planner, I use Powersheets Goal Planner. This beautiful little book might be a bit different than most boring old business planners you’ve used in the past. Using it, I can write out many of my business goals regularly to keep me on top of things. But my planner isn’t the end-all, be-all of my business plan. One of the most critical parts is right on my wall!
By putting my business plan vision board up on the wall of my office, I can take a single glance at it to be reminded of my goals. I find this method to be way quicker than flipping through an entire written-out business plan.
Having it on my wall works wonderfully for decorating as well. It gives my entire office a central feature that I can arrange my entire workflow around!
Have a Personal Section
Many people believe that a business plan should only be full of dry numbers and detailed notes about their business. I couldn’t disagree with this approach more.
Over time, your business and life can become inseparable. That’s what happens when you’re a small business owner! Therefore, I make sure that I have a section in my business plan for my personal goals and priorities.
To give you an example, I work from home. When you do this, making dedicated plans for exercise is a must. Otherwise, you’ll just sit inside all day! In my business plan, I make sure that I have things like yoga, meditation, and other forms of exercise listed so I will do them. I also have stuff like ALWAYS accept invitations from friends and family to go out to lunch and other events since working from a home office can sometimes feel isolating.
Then there are major life events that will directly impact your business. For example, my husband Jayson and I recently bought a piece of land to build a vacation home. This has been on our dream to-do list for years, but we wanted to bring it into reality this year. And one of the key ways of doing this was to build it into my business plan. So, thanks to my business plan, we now own a piece of property and an in-progress house. Once completed, it will be a vacation rental to cover the cost of the purchase!
If you have kids, making sure that they are also featured prominently in your business plan and vision board is smart. 2019 was going to be a massive year for my son Eben, so I made sure that I had all of the significant milestones listed in the business plan. He was a) graduating from high school, b) getting his AA (he dual enrolled in high school and college), and c) starting his bachelor’s. We got through everything with flying colors, partially thanks to my business plan and vision board!
Have a Business Section
Mind you; this is supposed to be a BUSINESS plan. So let’s focus on the professional side of things for a while.
I am a big believer in years having a theme. This is why I always choose a “Word of the Year.” This word provides me with the direction that I want to head in through the next 12 months. You may have gotten a copy of my “Word of the Year” in your inbox recently. If not, I have a printable version of it you can download right here!
An essential part of my business plan is to have down all of the numbers that I want to hit for the upcoming year. This doesn’t necessarily mean putting a detailed budget in your business plan (though you should have one of those too). These numbers, much like the “Word of the Year,” help set me in the right direction.
I also put up many of the things I want to focus on next year on the board. I’m going to be doing some revamping of my blog, so that’s definitely on there. There will likely be website tweaks as well. And I can’t forget about doing my yearly social media audit to make sure my digital marketing game is up to snuff!
Finally, something I’m always sure to include in my vision board are some of my favorite projects I’ve worked on in the last year. While the projects of every single one of my clients are important, I have a significant soft spot for those that I get a physical copy of! This year we worked on several catalog, ad campaigns and packaging design. Sometimes I am lucky enough for the client to send me a copy, so those definitely go on the vision board!
Don’t Be Married to Your Plan
When you’re creating your business plan and putting together your vision board for the upcoming year, you mustn’t be married to everything you put in it.
You never know what’s going to happen in the next year, life happens, so you have to be ready to pivot when necessary. Maybe you land a big new client and your numbers are suddenly way rosier than you expected! Or perhaps there will be a downturn in your industry and you need to add new services to balance the equation. Either way, don’t be afraid to go into your business plan and change things around. Same with your vision board. If your vision for the year changes, your board should too!
Whether you are going with a fully-written-out business plan or want to incorporate a vision board into your business planning, it can be tough to know where to start. If you’ve never created a business plan before, or you’re feeling stuck on this year’s version, I can give you a hand! I’ve written the Write Your Own Business Plan: Workbook to help you pull together a comprehensive business plan for the upcoming year. And best of all, it’s completely free!
And if you’ve gone through the workbook and want to get a headstart in creating a business plan to provide you with some direction for your business, contact me today. I can coach you in creating a comprehensive business plan, or I can put one together for you, based on your notes and ideas. It doesn’t matter if you want a numbers-based plan, a written one, or a vision board, I can give you a hand in putting it together!