Inspiration and creativity are what your business is all about. They fuel your amazing work and make what you do so much more thrilling! But they are also in a constant flux. Unpredictable and unreliable as they are, depending upon them for your business may prove very unwise and potentially disastrous.
So, what every smart business lady out there needs, is a good solid plan.
Nope, I am not talking about a business plan, although that can help to, I'm talking about the three pillars of successful planning, as I call them. The why, the what and the how of every project you'll ever work on.
Here is what I mean:
THE THREE PILLARS OF PLANNING
The first three basic questions you should ask yourself when starting a project or a whole new business venture are:
- Why am I doing this?
- What should I do to achieve it?
- How should I do it?
And these are your three pillars — your strategies, your processes and your systems.
Every lady boss out there knows why she's doing what she's doing, I'm sure of it. You do, too. The only thing left, is to write everything down and draw clear lines in the sand.
Your why is usually your goal.
Let's explore mine:
I created Mindful Pixels so I can help creative bloggers have easier time and more fun designing and planning their business. I wanted to share my knowledge and give gals, who are just embarking on their adventures, encouragement, tips and know-how. I also wanted to make a living as a freelancer and graphic designer after working for a design agency for more than five years.
These are my goals.
My strategies include only actions that will lead to the fulfillment of these goals. Here are some examples:
- Publish helpful articles about small business planning.
- Create an online community for creative gals + share design resources (the Treasury)
- Release products that make self-branding easy and fun.
Your strategies are the paths on your goal map.
Each action you take should be pointed in the direction of your goal and it should take you one step closer to it.
You have your goal and you have your strategies towards it.
Now, here comes the what.
Let's take my first strategy example: Publishing helpful articles about small business planning. What is required to do that regularly? Answering this question will give me my process.
To publish a blog article I must go through the following steps:
- Do my research
- Outline the article
- Design graphics
- Add links & keywords
- Schedule / publish
This is one of my processes. Simple enough, right? Now imagine having a process in place for each of your strategies. This will mean, you no longer need to think of what to do next; no more guesswork — you have your itinerary.
A process is an itinerary for a specific path on your goal map.
Outline the process for each strategy and you'll know what to do to reach your goals.
So, you have your strategies and you have suitable processes to match them. Now, all you have to do is put your systems in place. You need your how.
Let's continue with my article publishing example. I have my process of nine steps and it's time to do the actual work.
How do I do it?
How do I do the research? Should I outline everything in Evernote or Google Docs? Is it better to write each day or bulk-write once a week? Should I use Photoshop or Illustrator to design my graphics? Which social media platform will work best for me?
Finding out how each step of your process should be done is what will give you your systems.
Your systems are the methods and the tools you use to do the work.
Establish simple systems for each process and you will be well equipped to walk the paths towards your goals.
MAKE IT YOURS
What do you think so far? Are you in love with planning already? I know I am! :)
So, here comes the real challenge.
If you are anything like me, you will have every single strategy, process and system written down, mindmapped and colour coded.
But that's just the beginning. Now, it comes the time to see if the incredible machine you've build actually works for you.
It's important to draw your goal map yourself.
Use every planner that works for you, try out every online tool that suits your business, take every advice that might help you on the way towards your goals, by all means, do it all!
But always always always follow your gut.
If it works — keep it. If it doesn't — get rid of it, no matter who swears on it or how trendy it might be. It's crucial to be honest with yourself and not squander your precious time and energy.
Also, keep in mind that your planning pillars will evolve — something that was a perfect fit six moths ago, might not be of use anymore. Be smart and let go when the time comes.
WHY PLANNING IS SO IMPORTANT
I'm the first to admit that over-planning and over-scheduling can suffocate your creativity. But, and this is a very important but, as romantic as working as a wild and free gypset girl might seem, it isn't very sustainable in the long run. Especially if you do almost everything yourself.
So, to set yourself up for success you need to plan and organize your business as thoroughly as possible. I hope my three pillars of planning will help you do just that!
HOW DO YOU STAY ORGANIZED?
Do you have your own pillars of planning? What is your business planning story? How do you keep your business organized?