The thing with being a business owner is that there will always be more to do. You’ll never get to the bottom of that to-do list because your business is constantly moving and evolving.
If you don’t have a plan that will help you stay on track and prioritise the tasks that are worth your valuable time, you’re putting yourself at risk of burnout.
We’ve all been there at least once before, I’m sure. And for lots of us, burnout can, at times, feel like the norm.
By reflecting on our experiences and taking action to change the way we work, we can learn to overcome the pattern.
In this post, I’m going to introduce you to a 6-step process you can use to set a plan for your business. And the best bit? There’s a free workbook to go along with it, so you can take what you learn and put it straight into practice.
Ready to dive right in?
How to set a plan for your business
A business plan, in the traditional sense, can be a hefty and technical document that would leave most of us feeling overwhelmed before we even got started.
Don’t worry – that’s not the kind of plan we’re talking about here.
You can write this plan for your business in a day or even in a couple of hours, and you won’t need help from an accountant or business expert.
This is all about taking the jumble of thoughts and ideas that are in your head, and putting them down onto paper in a way that makes sense and gives you structure.
1. Reflect and review
Finding quiet time alone to reflect and review can be tough, but we all know it’s essential. If you’re able to carve out half a day to go through the planning workbook, this is where you should begin.
Start with the positives and celebrate your wins. It’ll put you in a better mindset for tackling the rest of your plan. Plus, thinking back over your highlights might give you a stronger sense of what really matters to you in your business.
Your idea of success might not match up to what you’ve been taught or what you’re seeing, but if it feels like a win to you, then it’s a win. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
And, of course, you’ll need to reflect on the things that haven’t gone so well. Be honest about the plans that didn’t come to fruition or the mistakes you’ve made.
We all fail at times and it can feel crushing in the moment. But it’s by learning from our failures that we’re able to grow and build resilience. Write them down and try to figure out what went wrong.
Next, write down everything that’s on your mind. All the ideas, plans, works-in-progress and opportunities that are filling your head.
It can feel overwhelming when it’s all swirling around in your busy brain. Once you start pulling things out bit by bit, you’re freeing up space.
If it all comes pouring out thick and fast and you’re filling a page faster than you ever thought you could, don’t panic. Just because it’s on the page, it doesn’t mean it all has to go straight onto your already-full to-do list. The next step is to…
Ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix?
It’s a simple tool that I use regularly to help me tackle my never-ending workload.
Once I’ve emptied my head and got everything down on paper, I look at each task or thing individually and fit into a grid just like this one.
What will we DO, DELEGATE, DELAY or DITCH?
It can often feel like everything needs doing now and that it must be done by us. But is that always really the case?
4. Set goals
After you’ve reflected, brainstormed and prioritised, what’s jumping out at you as the big must-dos?
It might be the dreams or ideas you’ve been mulling over for ages, but it could just as easily be the small steps you need to take to get yourself to the next level.
Take those things, whatever they are, and turn them into goals. Make them SMART if you think it’ll help you.
Do you struggle to set them? Or maybe you’re good at setting them, but following through is a different story?
If you’re using the free workbook to set a 90-day plan for your business, try breaking your goals up by month. Work backwards, if you need to, to figure out what needs to happen at each stage. Remember that even the tiniest bit of progress each day will add up.
5. Set targets
Next, get specific with targets.
Consider the things in your business that are easy to measure and track. Social media. Email subscribers. Sales. Finance.
What do the numbers look like now, and what do you want them to look like 3 months from now?
And remember, these things don’t happen overnight.
We might all start out with good intentions, but it’s easy to let them slide when the fear starts creeping in. Targets will help you stay focused.
6. Break it down
Finally, break it all down.
Take those goals and targets you’ve set yourself and split them up into bitesize pieces. There’s a template in the free workbook to help with this.
It can be tempting to save tasks that seem big or scary until we feel like we’re really ready. We might put them off until we have a full day or even a week to give them our attention, but so often that chunk of free time never arrives.
Instead, if we move the needle a little bit each day or week, putting in that time will start to become a habit.
Before you know it, you’ll be closer than you’ve been.
Get started now: Download your Free 90-Day Planner
Bonus tips for staying on track
Sometimes, even with the best intentions and a good long-term plan, we can all find ourselves falling behind.
Life doesn’t always go to plan, and no matter how hard you try to stay organised and productive, there will be times when your workload gets hard to manage. Follow these quick tips to help you stay or get back on track.
1. Set yourself a maximum of 3 tasks per day. Put your big to-do list out of sight and just focus on those 2 or 3 things. It’ll help you to keep the overwhelm at bay and move forward.
2. Turn off those notifications! Every little distraction can knock us out of the flow, and if your phone is beeping at you all day, you’ll be stopping and starting more than you’re getting going.
3. When you find yourself needing to reset and revisit your plans, try switching up your environment. I treat myself to a spa day when I need to plan, and it always leaves me feeling calm and ready to tackle the next phase.
4. Do you have an accountability buddy? It’s easy to make excuses or put things off when no one else knows what we had planned. Plan with someone, if you can, and arrange to check-in at a later date.
5. Finally, make sure you’re holding space and time for your own business. The work you do for clients is essential, but your business matters, too. Plan in time to move forward with your own business goals, and remember that even the littles bit of progress each day will add up.
Need a helping hand?
If you’ve tried all this before and you’re still feeling overwhelmed or stuck in a rut, maybe it’s time you asked for help.
We offer a range of business strategy sessions to help busy female founders like you take action.
Call Claire (that’s me) on 0208 064 1969, or book in for a discovery call to start a conversation.