How to start planning for your business when it’s already too late

Where has the first two months of 2018 gone?! You swear you started the year with optimism, hope, and good intentions toward planning for your business this year…and now it’s almost March!! What if it’s too late?

Don’t panic, because although it might feel like you’re already hopelessly behind, it’s never too late to start. You can catch up and make 2018 awesome, if you check your mindset, plan efficiently, take action and track your progress. And, a lot of small business owners are in the same situation.

In this post, we’ll

  • Explore the areas of your business you should focus on first
  • Share our favourite online tools to make planning, project management, scheduling and more easy

Let’s get started!

1) Consider Your Clients

Your clients are the fuel to your business, so make sure you’re doing work that challenges, excites, and motivates you, for people you respect and offer value to! Pick five to ten projects you worked on last year, for whom, and for which industries. Put them in the following categories:

Loved Client & Loved Work

Loved Client & Disliked (or wasn’t well-suited to) Work

Disliked Client & Loved Work

Disliked Client & Disliked Work

This will help you to quickly identify patterns about the clients and projects you’re naturally drawn to. From there, you can start to build an ideal client profile. The key is to ask yourself why you felt so strongly, either way, and note the reasons. Knowing who your best clients are will guide your decisions for who to target this year and moving forward.

Related: Get to Know Your Clients: Why & How

Grab our free Goal Setting Guide

2) Call Your Bookkeeper

One of the best things you can do for your business is to outsource the tasks you dislike or don’t have the appropriate expertise to perform. Bookkeeping can become a time consuming and frustrating task. Though it’s necessary to maintain the health of your business, it doesn’t bring in profit. I strongly recommend that every entrepreneur hire a bookkeeper as their business begins to grow (and ideally soon after you launch the business). Hiring a professional bookkeeper to do your taxes and provide regular financial updates will be one of the best investments you’ll make.

Here are the key numbers you’ll want to pay attention to when planning for the future:

a) Review from Previous Year

  • Annual Revenue
  • Profit Margin
  • Losses
  • Expenses
  • Year-over-Year Earnings
  • Return on Investments

b) Outlook for Current Year

This can include your:

  • Sales Forecast
  • Projected Revenue
  • Projected Expenses

Your balance sheet  doesn’t lie, and will provide a much-needed reality check about where you’re doing well, what can be improved and where you should invest your time and money.

3) Hire Help

Getting caught in a position where you’re scrambling to plan with a month left in the first quarter of the year isn’t ideal, but you can treat this as a learning moment; this is probably a warning signal that it’s time to allocate resources and outsource the work that’s weighing you down.

There are highly qualified digital marketing teams, bookkeepers and accountants, virtual assistants, and others out there to take on any task you have.

Related: Planning Methods for Your Small Business and 4 Steps to Plan for a New Year in Business

4) Check Your Client On-Boarding Process and Contract

Have you evaluated your client on-boarding process lately to ensure it meets your needs, and those of the types of clients you want to take on? Building a process that takes you from that first discovery call, through signing a contract and kicking off your project will go a long way to keeping you organized when the work is rushing in. No need to build your own from scratch – we’ve got a few tips on doing this and an Ultimate Onboarding Bundle for you!

Note: Pay special attention to project management issues, payment, and project cancellation terms in your contract – you’ll be glad you did!

Related: Why You Need a Client On-Boarding Process

5) Set SMARTER Goals

To succeed, you need well-defined goals that excite and challenge you (and maybe even scare you a little bit!). Like every other task we’ve put on your list, this one isn’t as daunting once you break it down. We’re constantly recommending our clients use Michael Hyatt’s SMARTER goal setting methodology. SMARTER goals are:

Specific enough to focus and direct your energies

Measurable so you can keep track of your progress

Actionable with clear initiating verb that prompts specific activity

Risky enough to leverage your natural tendency to rise to challenges

Time-keyed so you’re prompted exactly when to act

Exciting enough to inspire and harness the power of your intrinsic motivation

Relevant within the overall context of your life and career

Pro Tip: Get yourself an accountability partner. Ask each other the tough questions and call each other out on ill-formed or unrealistic goals. You’ll exchange ideas that will be useful to both of you and keep each other on track.

Related: 6 Goal Setting Tips for Your Small Business

6) Know what tools you need and implement them

How do you work best? Are you a writer who needs to feel the exhilaration of scratching a completed task off your list, or do you prefer to have everything accessible in the cloud? Whether you use an old-fashioned notebook or digital online software, or a combination of both,  to track your goals, keep a running to-do list or organize  your time. choose the tools that work best for you. Many integrate with each other so they work seamlessly together. Some of our favourite tools include Teamwork, Slack, and Acuity Scheduling.

Related: My Favourite Tools

Wrapping Up

As entrepreneurs, we’re constantly setting new goals, rising to exciting challenges, and learning from our experiences. But the only way we’ll find success and realize our goals is if we build a solid foundation by planning them! Sitting down to review your previous year’s projects, organize your finances, hire the help you need, set your goals and implement the best tools for you will help you propel yourself forward.

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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Washup & Reset

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4D-90 Framework

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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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