During January there’s a lot of talk about having a strategy for your business. And people always talk about how important it is to have a strategy. But when I asked people about strategies, they say the idea of putting together a strategy feels overwhelming. It seems like this massive thing.

I know a lot of people find it really hard to sit down and even start a strategy; but all you need to do is to reframe it. You need to think that really, all a business strategy is, is a plan. I like to use the term roadmap, because you need to get from where you are now to your destination (hitting your goals).

To start mapping out your strategy, you need to know what your goals are for the year. But in order to know this, you really need to know what you want from your business long term.  What do you want your life to look in 5 years time? Where do you want to work from? Home, an office, a shop? How many hours a week do you want to work?  If you don’t get clear on this from the start, you could end up creating a business that you end up hating.

I made this mistake in my business quite a few years ago. I used to make wedding stationery jewellery and sell it online. I also attended wedding fairs on weekends so people could see samples of my work.  It got to the point where a lot of customers where asking me why I didn’t have a shop, somewhere my designs were set up so people could come in and try items on without having to go to a wedding fair. And so, I thought, yeah, you know what, why don’t I do that? It sounds like a really good idea. So off I went looking into premises and within a couple of weeks I had found a gorgeous old chapel that had been converted into a shop and Just Perfect opened 6 weeks later.

Now what I didn’t do was think about the implications of having a shop. I didn’t think about the opening hours, I had to be there Tuesday to Saturday, every week. Whether there were 100 people or 1 coming through the doors. I could sit there for eight hours and could only see 2 or 3 people all day. Those days were great for getting on with online orders, but on the busy days, I couldn’t get anything made because I was so busy serving people and that meant that I had to sit and make orders at home after the shop closed. Planning my time was a nightmare.

I really wasn’t happy. When I actually sat down and thought about what I wanted from life I realised that I didn’t like the fact that I was having to drag myself in there for 10am 5 days a week. It felt like a job.  And another thing I hadn’t thought about was that my husband was off on Saturdays and Sundays, so it meant that we only had a Sunday off together. And a lot of the time I was still doing wedding fairs on a Sunday, so we never had any time together.

Because I didn’t take the time to think about what I wanted my life to look like, I ended up with a business that was everything I hated about being employed! The good thing is that I learned what I didn’t want, and it’s helped me to design a business that I love.

So, start with asking yourself what you really want your life to look like in five years’ time. Dream big!  Once you know your long-term goals, you can start planning shorter term. For a simple 12-month strategy, set yourself a money goal for the year. For example, do you want to earn £25,000 by the end of this year so that you can leave your day job? Then break your money goal down into monthly amounts.

Once you know your monthly income targets, you can then look at what you need to sell in order to hit those goals. Look at your services and write them down along with the price. Pick one service to promote per quarter (this doesn’t mean you can’t sell other services, just this is the one you are going to actively promote) and work out how many you need to sell each month to hit your goal.

Now you know what you need to sell and when, you know what you need to talk about in your content. Hint – it should all point back to the service you want to sell. You can also work out what other actions you need to take. Do you need to set up a sales funnel? Add a service to your website? Break everything down into small, actionable steps and decide when you are going to do them.

The best thing about having a plan is that you know what you need to do and when you are doing it. Having it all written down is going to stop you procrastinating. To be really productive, I spend time on a Sunday night planning the week ahead. This means that when I get up in the morning, I just come into my office, I look at what I’ve got to do, and I get on with it. I’m not sitting trying to make decisions and thinking about what I need to do next.

Our daily energy is like a battery. When you wake up in the morning your battery is full, but every decision you make through the day depletes that energy. So, if you’re using that energy to make daily decisions that you could avoid by planning, then you’re not using that energy to its best effect. By having a plan you’re going to be much more productive as you’re using your energy to its best effect.

Having a plan makes your marketing much clearer. When you know what you’re selling, you can talk to your audience about topics that link to your service. You can address your clients pain points that your service solves, which makes selling so much easier. If all your content is helping your clients with a certain problem, it grows their trust in you as an expert. Then when you come to sell your service, they already trust that you can help them. You can then offer your service without feeling like a sleazy salesperson.

If you don’t have a strategy and are finding it’s really, really overwhelming, follow these simple steps.

Step 1Write down your money goal for the year.

Step 2Split your goal over 12 months.

Step 3Then look at 3 months at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm you.

Step 4What do you need to sell to hit those money goals?

Step 5What do you need to do to sell those services?

Step 6On a Sunday night, or Monday morning – spend some time planning out your week ahead.

If you feel like you need help with getting a plan on paper, contact me to see how I can help you move forward.