Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Head in the sand vs Business Planning

I am a big believer in business planning and setting up systems that allow you to work more strategically. The thing is with so much advice out there, much of which is hard to scale back and relate specifically to your own business and life situation, business owners often become so overwhelmed, that instead of taking steps to improve their business, they stick their head in the sand and carry on as they did yesterday.

Planning can be challenging, exhausting and of course hard to find time for but it really does make the world of difference in a small business.

Many of my clients mention to that they feel overwhelmed when putting their 2013 busines plan together.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

Plan time to plan

It sounds silly but if you set aside time once a week, even if it is only 20 minuets which you dedicate to planning you can begin to see the benefits and hopefully create more space to get planning done.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the day to day of business, family and life; but if you want to create a sustainable, profitable business, planning is critical.

Just start.

At a conference I went to this year entrepreneur and world traveller Chris Guillebeau mentioned he is always asked, “When is the best time to start?” to which he replies;

“Without a doubt it is a year ago – but failing that, start today”

He was referring to blogging; but the same is true for business planning.

Put it to paper

Write it down, it doesn’t count if you think up great plans as you drive home but then never put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). The power of getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper is something I can’t even quite explain.

When I started writing down goals and plans for my business the speed at which I would then achieve them was nothing short of astounding.

Obviously you need to work hard as well; but once you commit something paper the tasks required to achieve those goals becomes much clearer and it is far easier to catch yourself when you veer off course.

Where to you start?

Write down five things you want to achieve in your business in 2013.

It may be a higher number of followers on social media or it might be increased sales. Perhaps it is to create a new product or to launch a collection.

The point is to take sometime out and decide 5 things that you would be proud of if you could tick them off by the end of 2013.

Then under each of these five goals write down 5 actions you can take to move you towards that goal.

When you have some time to come back and review these goals and action steps, think about it in a little more detail.

For each of your five goals commit to taking at least one action towards achieving them in January, write yourself a list of “To Do’s” for January that you know will be moving you towards your larger goals.

Enjoy the holidays and take some time out to consider what you want for your business in 2013 – but what ever you do don’t feel fearful of business planning. It is as fun and exciting as your wildest hopes dreams.

Elle, business and marketing strategist and co-director of Studio Exsto (, is passionate about helping small businesses thrive. Studio Exsto is THE workroom for creatives in business to engage in the design, development and drive of their business. Elle is also founder of the Artful Business Conference (

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