Last year was a great year for my business.
One of the reasons it turned out so well is that I (mostly) maintained focus on a small number of goals/projects during the year – as opposed to “trying to do everything” – which is my default mode.
Like I do every year, I took the week between Christmas and the New Year to create my “Book of Schemes” – my overall goals, plans and intentions for the year.
I started with a specific revenue goal and a breakdown of exactly how many clients I’d need to work with in order to meet that goal. Then I mapped it out on a calendar to make sure that it was possible and that I’d still have time to
binge watch netflix have a life.
That, of course, was the easy part!
The more challenging part: How?
One of my intentions for last year was to “lead by example” – to eat my own dog food, take my own advice and to boldly “go first” and share what I’m doing.
I’m going to continue along that path this coming year – and in that spirit, this post provides an inside look at my process – including the details of my own plans.
In case you don’t want to read all 1,916 words – here’s the executive summary:
- My focus for the year: Visibility
- My guiding words: Fun, Easy, Sustainable
- My specific projects:
- Improve my coaching program and skills
- Grow my audience/community
- Write my book
(If you want to create a similar plan for yourself – get my free planning workshop here: planning workshop)
First off: a confession.
Usually I get really excited and enthusiastic about planning for the New Year. This year was an exception.
For the first time in a long long time, the New Year didn’t bring the usual burst of enthusiasm and excitement.
Instead…all I felt was “meh.”
I spent the time between Christmas and the New Year “scheming” – but at the end of it all, I wasn’t terribly excited by my plans. Meh.
All I wanted to do is crawl back into bed and sleep.
So I did.
I slept and I slept and I slept.
And what came out of all of this?
My guiding words.
Guiding words: what qualities, feelings, energy do I want to approach the year with?
I couldn’t face another year of pushing and intense effort.
Last year was a very good year. It checked a lot of the boxes: great clients, great work, met my financial goals. Yay!
And it was tiring. I worked hard at it and by the end of the year, I was feeling pretty spent.
When I looked toward 2017 – all I saw was another year of pushing a boulder up a hill. After all that hard work…yay! I get to do it again!
No wonder I felt “meh” about my plans.
In coaching class (more on that later) – we learned that the most important question to ask is: “What do you want?”
So what do I want instead?
I want “sustainability.” I want regular time off. I want a reasonable work load. (She says while spending all day Sunday writing a blog post!)
And I want it all to be fun and easy.
I was re-reading some of my old blog posts the other night. I used to have a sense of humour. Lately, I’ve been really intense and serious. While both of those are parts of my personality – I want to invite more humour and lightness into my days and my work.
So my guiding words are: fun, easy, sustainable. I wrote them into my Book of Schemes and at the top of my weekly recap/planning worksheet. A reminder to myself that whenever a challenge or stress arises, I need to ask:
“How can I make this fun and easy? What would be sustainable?”
And I used these questions as a guideline when determining my focus and projects for the year.
Focus: what’s my overall intention for the year?
Last year’s focus was on the foundation of my business: on revenue, on solidifying my offers and my sales processes.
This year it’s about visibility: growing my audience/community, showing up and being seen, joining the conversation, putting myself out there.
For a card carrying introvert and dedicated social media “lurker” who is used to living life from the sidelines, watching what everyone else is doing – listening and reading instead of talking and writing – this is a challenging and growth-oriented intention.
I am relying on my guiding words to see me through!
Keeping in mind the primary business goal (clients and revenue) and the intention (visibility) and the guiding words (fun, easy, sustainable)…
We come to projects.
Projects: what, specifically, am I going to do this year?
Projects are significant undertakings to work ON your business, instead of IN it.
My 3 projects for last year:
- Develop my coaching program and the systems to support it
- Implement the sales and marketing process I teach – including creating a new website
- Create an online program
Last year’s projects had clear endings. I could place a checkmark next to each one and declare it “done” (at least for the time being.)
This year, 2/3 of my projects have no end date.
They are marathons instead of sprints, ongoing improvements as opposed to new creations, daily and weekly practices instead of intense one-off efforts. And the one “checkmark” project I have has a 9 month deadline. In other words: sustainable.
- Improve my coaching program and skills
- Grow my audience/community
- Write my book
Project 1: Improve my coaching program and skills
For as long as I offer coaching/consulting/mentoring/training services – this will always be a project.
I am a huge believer in personal and professional development and making things better.
I want to continually provide more value to my clients by improving my programs, my customer service and my skills to deliver.
I also get the sense that the idea of “providing high quality service” has fallen by the wayside. Most of the business advice I see out there is about:
- Scaling – making your business bigger.
- Automating – making it less personal.
- Leveraging – running groups or providing digital products instead of coaching/consulting 1:1.
These are all great for the business owner: more money, less work.
What gets lost in all this is the client. All of the above downgrade the effectiveness of your services.
So I’m going in the opposite direction.
I’m doubling down on my business model of offering an intense amount of support to a small number of clients.
I’m adding more value, more support and more personal attention to my coaching programs.
- adding a 15 minute accountability check-in between regular coaching appointments
- adding a monthly clients-only “advanced skills training” webinar – with the intention of building a library of resources for my clients
- re-starting the Marketing Action Club – which includes a regular Monday Morning Motivation Meeting and a private Facebook group for community, networking and support.
(Psst: I’m offering the Marketing Action Club for free – you can find out more and join here: Marketing Action Club.)
I’m adding different options for working with me.
For Continuing Clients
In the past, when clients completed and asked “what now?” I simply suggested that we “do the full 6 month program again” to take what we’d done to the next level – and a good percentage of them took me up on that.
Now I’m recognizing that after running through the program once (or in some cases, twice) – they mostly don’t need the training/ideas/advice. Instead, they simply need to execute on a regular basis. So I’m creating some accountability focused continuation options.
For New Clients
Now that I’ve put my entire program into video format – along with the worksheets and questionnaires (last year’s project) – I can offer a lower cost mostly DIY coaching option.
For people who are just starting their businesses and/or who lack the funds to do my full coaching program – I will be offering a 3 session package that includes the online program for a fraction of the cost of my full program. (Full details on my Coaching Programs page.)
I’m getting coach training
Last year, I enrolled in Erickson’s Art and Science of Coaching Program.
First thing I learned? I haven’t been coaching! I’ve been mentoring, consulting and training.
This was not 100% a surprise for me – I mainly chose the title of “coach” for myself for marketing purposes (small businesses hire coaches; corporations hire consultants.)
I’m halfway through the program now with the intention of adding coaching skills to my toolkit.
Project 2: Grow my audience/community
This project relates directly to my focus of “visibility.”
It includes writing articles (like this one), creating videos and embracing social media.
I’m good with the articles. (Evidence: you’re reading this now!)
I’m going to make the videos fun + easy by recording them during the Marketing Action Club meetings. This means a single effort serves 2 purposes, making it all more sustainable. (See how this system works?)
Likewise, much of what I do in these videos (and here on the blog) will form part of my book. (I call this method of overlapping activities “Applied Laziness.”)
Which leaves social media.
I’ve managed to avoid this by using in-person events and networking as my primary means of marketing. While these methods are effective – they are also time consuming. With my client load, I find myself putting these activities off – which brings my lead generation to a standstill. Not sustainable.
To make this social media adventure easy, I hired Kelly Diels to help me sort it out.
I love what Kelly is doing with her social media presence. It’s powerful, it’s meaningful, it’s courageous – and it’s completely contrary to the stuff that makes me barf.
Working with Kelly also contributes to Project #1 – I’ll be picking up new ideas and techniques that I can share with my own clients.
Project 3: Write my Book
If you’ve been in my world for a while, you’ve seen this one pop up before. I’ve been trying to “write my book” since taking Barbara Sher‘s WriteSpeak program in 2009.
This time it comes with a hard deadline.
To make it fun and easy (or at least as close as I can get to those ideals) – I signed up for Barbara’s year long WriteSpeak coaching program and have committed to having the book done by September.
The lovely carrot here? Getting to be a guest on Barbara’s telesummit.
In terms of efficiency – I’ll be blogging or Marketing Action Clubbing the content. Sustainable!
3 major goals: Improve my programs, show up, write stuff.
And a whole year to do them in.