10 Tips for Better Business Planning

 
 Louise Attenborough, Chocolate Collective

So many of us start the New Year with intentions of being better at something, whether that’s sticking with the gym, following a healthy eating plan or spending less time scrolling through Insta! For business owners, kicking off the New Year with the resolve to be better organised, to plan ahead and to be less reactive is a common resolution…especially for business owners!

Planning is one of those important tasks; to look forward, to set goals, to market the business, and to do all of this purposefully and proactively. As business owners ourselves, we know that finding the time to plan can be difficult, especially when there are so many pressing, urgent deadlines that need to be dealt with. However, once that planning process is done and you’ve mapped out six months of activity in an afternoon, it’s a far more efficient use of time than the daily guilt trips, monthly panics, scattergun approach or worse, complete silence.

Many people find getting started with the planning process overwhelming, so here are Queen Bee’s tips on how to take that first step and make the most of the planning time you have.

  1. Take yourself OUT of the business. Step away from the laptop. Set up camp in a coffee shop. Go for a LONG walk. Treat yourself to an overnight stay in a hotel (ooo, yes please!). Borrow someone’s meeting room. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but get out, set up your out of office and resolve to dedicate time to the singular task of planning, with no office-based distractions!

  2. Be realistic in the time you dedicate, you need at least half a day, ideally a day, or even more if you have the luxury, but make the commitment and don’t get distracted.

  3. Pack a box of tricks – a new notepad, post-its, marker pens, blu-tak, flip chart, props (see below) – anything to get the creative juices flowing and keep track of your thinking.

  4. Set yourself objectives – for example, what do you want your marketing activity to achieve? Type up and print these out and keep referring back to them. If you find your mind wandering or you’ve gone off on a tangent, it’s a great way to get you back on track.

  5. Go with your style. If you like a structure, write yourself an agenda for the session and allocate topics and time slots. If you’re a bit more of a freestyle thinker, arm yourself with post-its and spider graph templates to bring some of your random ideas into a more coherent plan. Going with your own style of planning will make it enjoyable and a process you’re more likely to repeat.

  6. Take advantage of free printables online– blog planners, goal setters, social media planners – there are so many. We recently presented a social media content planner  (link) to the ladies in our Women In Business Network group.

  7. Always start plotting the year ahead with known relevant events (e.g. music festivals), seasonality (e.g. Easter, autumn), national days/weeks (e.g. Mental Health Week) and events personal to your business (e.g. workshops, product launches) Overlay this with the mindset of your customer at various points in the year (e.g. back to school, spring cleaning, summer wind down) – this will also spark ideas for marketing your business and before you know it, your year will already start to look pretty full!

  8. Factor in breaks – whether that’s a flask of tea and a biscuit, a yummy lunch or a cheeky slice of cake – it’s important to reflect on what you’ve done, give your brain a rest, and refuel to keep your energy levels up.

  9. Leave yourself at least an hour to list out actions and responsibilities and set yourself some timescales to make them happen.

  10. Reward yourself for a job well done. Planning days are some of our happiest days, not just because we get loads of thinking done and leave with tons of ideas, but because we always factor in a treat at the end. It could be a lovely hot chocolate at the end of a walk, a cheeky cocktail in town or if you’ve splurged on time away, a trip to the spa – crucial for any hard-working brain!!

*BONUS TIP*

It happens to all of us! You’re creatively blocked. Our suggestion…use props! This may sound bonkers but some of our best ideas have come from staring at a clothes peg or a rubber duck and finding a way to relate them to our clients and their business.

Just by tackling a problem from another angle, you can get your creative juices flowing again. For example, the peg might get you thinking about pinning up clothes, which leads you to pinning on Pinterest, which opens your mind to the idea of trends and how a regular trend update could be the ideal way to inspire your customer. Or the rubber duck may get you thinking about duck races, which could lead to the thought of sponsoring an event. Not so bonkers now eh? Who knows what the source of your next, big idea could be!

So, there we have it. Some sure-fire tips to get you started and make the most out of your precious planning time.

We hope we’ve inspired you and enabled you to think about dedicating some planning time to your business, however, if it’s all just too overwhelming, you’re in need of a brainstorming buddy, or taking time out of the business is just impossible for you…Queen Bee are here to help. You can find out more about our services here.