Do you have a plan?
Every wannabe entrepreneur needs a plan. You need a plan for what you will do that will earn you income, how you will fit those things into your life, and how you’ll know when you’ve achieved your goals. There are many different ways to plan, both short term and long term.
What kind of planning do you need?
You need a long term plan. This is your business plan, or your life plan. These kinds of plans are set over years, often 3-5 years, but sometimes even longer.
You need a short term plan. This is your next-actions list, or your to-do list. This is the list of tasks, appointments and commitments you’ve got that need to be done in the next week or two. Or maybe just in the next day or so?
Most people stop here. They have the long term and the short term plans, but sometimes it’s hard to translate one to the other. How do you get from the big picture to the tiny details?
You need an Intermediate Goal!
Many experts advise setting goals and creating a yearly plan. And for some, this works well. But for others, we live seasonally, and so a year-long plan is too big. Things change too quickly, too much over the course of the year, for us to predict what will happen by Thanksgiving — in January.
Setting a goal monthly is too short for the intermediate goal. It’s too hard to build momentum and to actually see progress. Often, monthly goals are too small to be exciting, or too big to be achievable.
So what time period works? For me, the ideal is a 90-day quarter. Ninety days is enough time to build momentum, to set a goal that will give you noticeable progress towards my big goals, but isn’t so overwhelming that I get lost or forget what I’m doing. It’s also easy to plan around, because it fits inside the seasons of my life, with kids and their activities.
90 Day Planning Starts with Setting a Goal
To start your 90 day plan, begin by looking at your long term plans. What are your income goals, achievements, or accomplishments that you want to do in the next 3 or 5 years? Make sure you’re clear on what those are, because your 90 day goals will be the milestones that mark your progress towards them.
Once you have your chosen focus, drill down to the next milestone that pushes you towards that goal. If it’s an income goal, what needs to happen to achieve that income? Or what level of income do you need to get to this year in order to make progress to your long term goal? For example, if you have a long term goal of 6 figures annually, your short term goal might be to break the five figure mark.
Choose your goal the SMART way, by being Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. The more specific you are, the more likely you’ll be able to develop a plan to actually get there. Making sure you can measure your goal means that you’ll know if you’re there or getting close. Keeping it achievable and realistic will keep you from getting too caught up in fantasy or wishful thinking. And having a timeline will help you stay on track with your goals.
90 Day Planning Continues with Listing the Steps to the Goal
Break your goal down into 4-6 different tasks. What needs to happen to get to the goal? This is where making sure your goal is a SMART one helps. The SMART aspects of your goal will tell you what the steps are to get there.
If we go back to our income example, break your numbers down. To reach a five-figure mark, how many products, services or packages do you need to sell in order to get there. How many new clients do you need to sign or enroll? If your main product or package is a $500 product, to reach the 5-figure mark, you’d need to sell 20 of them in 90 days.
Reverse engineer your numbers to break it down further. How many contacts or leads do you need to have in order to sell 20? Go back over your past performance, and figure out the exact numbers. If your sale-closing percentage is 10%, that means you’d need to connect with 200 different leads in 90 days to achieve your 20 sales. Is that doable?
90 Day Planning Finishes by Assigning Due Dates
Grab a pen and paper, or a large calendar, and mark off the next 3 months. 90 days is approximately 13 weeks, give or take a few days. Lay out the next 12 weeks and assign your steps due dates. What needs to happen every week in order for you to meet your goal?
For our income example, 20 sales in 12 weeks works out to 3 sales every two weeks, or 1 and 2/3rds sales every week. So some weeks you need 2 sales, some you need 1 sale. You’d set your goal to 2 sales per week. That way, if you don’t make that 2nd sale every week, you’ve got some breathing room. But if you make your goal every single week, you’ll surpass your 90 day goal easily.
Why 12 weeks? 12 weeks makes for easy planning — it’s easy to subdivide into monthly, biweekly or weekly goals. And having that 13th week be extra allows for last-minute catch up in case something happens, like unexpected illness. Also, if everything does go smoothly and exactly as you’d planned, you get a 13th week as a break and a review week, giving you some well-earned vacation time as a reward for all your hard work. Plus, you’ll get that time to determine what worked, what didn’t, and to set your next 90 day goal planning easily.
Is 90 Day Planning Right for You?
Well, that depends. Maybe you’re an organized planner by nature, and even your sock drawer is color coded. You may not need the extra step in between your daily to-dos and your long term goals. Or maybe you’re the spontaneous, creative artist, and you’ve got an almost magic touch that turns every day into success, and you don’t have any long term goals. Then planning may only cramp your style.
90 Day Planning is for the rest of us. It’s for those of us who are trying to carve out a career and an income, Between the day job, the kids’ activities, and regular life in general, finding the time to focus on an independent business or at-home income can be tricky. Having a plan that helps us keep both the daily details and the big picture in mind will keep us focused on our goals.