How to Plan for your Business to Scale (Step One)

Happy New Year! I hope your December was restful and, if you celebrate, festive and full of wonder.

How are you feeling about the beginning of a new year? Full of pressure to choose your “one word” or an arbitrary revenue goal? A little guilty about the projects you didn’t quite finish last year? Or are you full of energy and ready to make your next moves?

Personally, ready to hit the ground running with our quarterly plans, even after all that eggnog and fruit cake. 

It’s not because I’m innately motivated or abide by hustle culture (I soooo don’t); it’s because I regularly take time to think about, ask questions, and seek answers about my business. Then, I use that information to plan our next moves.

If, as a business owner, you’re not regularly scheduling time to think about your business and ask questions about your business, you’re letting your business run on autopilot. You end up working in a reactionary mode. If your goal is to have a business that offers you more profit and freedom, being as proactive as possible is key to getting you there.

The Importance of Thinking About Your Business

Henry Mintzberg, Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, described strategy as “emergent,” which means that strategy comes in response to opportunities, not just in the planning phase.

When you ask questions, you open yourself up to new possibilities. This is especially helpful if you’re facing the panic of an urgent problem or the low hum of an ongoing challenge. Instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, asking questions about what’s actually happening can illuminate solutions you didn’t see before.

(By the way: if you’re wondering what questions you should be asking, we cover that below!)

If you start asking questions and don’t immediately see the answers, that’s okay. It’s just about the act of identifying a problem or an area of exploration, and then setting about to find an answer or, even better, someone who already knows the answer. This is how “emergence” happens, and it will help you move forward in your business.

How Often Should I Think About My Business

You don’t have to reflect on your business 24/7 (though some of us business owners do!), but I do recommend scheduling at least an hour of uninterrupted time every month where you can reflect on and think about your business.

Maybe you’ll take a Friday afternoon off and give yourself an hour to decompress from client work and reflect on what’s going on in your business. You can do this alone or with your team. You might even consider doing both. Sometimes your team, even subcontractors, have insight into your business that you do not. It’s worth asking their input once in a while to help spark your own thoughts.

Don’t have a team to ask for input yet? Learn how to hire and train your first Virtual Assistant here.

What Business Questions To Ask

At first, you may not know which questions to ask about your business. The Harvard Business Review has some good suggestions:

  1. Of the various activities and offers inside your business, what doesn’t fit? Why do they work well together?
  2. What would an outsider do? (or, what would you tell someone else to do?) Sometimes things stop making sense as your business grows. If someone external were suddenly in charge, what do you think they’d do?
  3. Is my organization consistent with my strategy? Keeping your end goal in mind, think about what your team would look like if you could design it from scratch.
  4. Do I understand why we do it this way? Because “It’s always been done this way,” doesn’t make for a proactive business.
  5. What might be the long-term consequences? Sometimes, short-term consequences and long-term consequences don’t always align.

Other Business Questions I Like To Ask

  1. Why do you do what you do? 
  2. Why do you do things the way that you do them? 
  3. How are other people in your industry handling it? 
  4. How are other people in other industries handling it?
  5. What skills do you wish your team had? Does your team have any skills that are being underutilized? 

Of course, you don’t have to ask all of these exact questions. For example, you might spend these monthly meetings looking at metrics (that a team member ran for you ????). Think about what they mean. What questions could you ask about those metrics? In situations like these it’s okay to be a bit more narrowly focused.

As you explore these things you may not start out with a clear structure or process, but it will emerge as you continue to ask questions and allow it to.

Are you ready to find the right questions to ask and create a system for answering them in your specific business? Get on the waitlist for Scale Society, my 6-month, small group experience for soul-centered entrepreneurs that will help you scale your creative business from 5 to 6 (even 7!) figures your own way. 

If you do set aside regular time to think about your business, how do you structure it? How is making time to think about your business when there isn’t a metaphorical fire to put out different from reacting to urgent situations?

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

The Great Big List of KPI's

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Dip your toes into transformation with these resources that pack a punch, all on the house.

Get started with KPIs with this free guide that will show you what KPIs you need to track, how many is too many, how to identify trends, examples of KPIs for every area of your business.

Washup & Reset

An annual business review to get you off the “set goal, miss goal, try-same-thing-again” merry-go-round, The Wash-up shows you haw to use the lessons from this year to get the most out of next year.

4D-90 Framework

This process is designed to be completed every quarter so you always know exactly what to do to hit your goals without putting in more time, create a new offer, or adding yet another launch to your calendar.

Budget Template

Struggling to know where you're money's going and whether you can afford that new course you've been eyeing? You need a budget and this template will help.

KPI Business Dashboard

Your easy answer to "What the heck do I track?"  You'll have all of your numbers in one place, and have at-a-glance information so you always know whether you're on track to meet your goals.

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