There’s nothing as sexy as business planning, right? With the new year ticking over, it’s about time to start considering yours. That’s the way it works for me, anyway. It’s one of those things that can stay on the to-do list if you don’t just put aside the time and do it. But heading into a new year without a plan is like trying to find a pair of socks in the dark. Not impossible to achieve but not ideal.

My plans are for me. They aren’t the kind you’d use for a bank or investor, it’s a simple way to take a look at what I’m doing, what I’m offering and where I’m planning to go in the year ahead. I’ve outlined the few headers I use to prompt me as I go through this process below. At the end of the post, you’ll have a chance to download a PDF guide for getting your plan started.

Ready? Let’s get Business Planning.

Business + Branding Summary

If it’s been a while since you looked at your business in general, this is the time to do that. Why are you in business? What do you offer, and not just literally? What problems are you solving for your customer? If your business is new or you haven’t done this before, make sure you develop a simple, single line intro, that summarises what your business does and why. Some pros call this an elevator pitch. I call it the perfect Instagram bio.

Once you’ve done all that, take a look at that and make sure your branding is in line with the message you are trying to convey. Check out the prompts in the download for some key areas to review if it’s been a  while since you’ve considered this part of your business.

Research + Ideal Customer

To put yourself in the best position for the upcoming year, you need to do some work around who your competitors are and what your strengths, weaknesses and unique offerings are compared to them. Getting to know what is in your marketplace, where you sit and what makes YOU special, is really important. And if you’re competitive like me, it can motivate you {once you put it aside and start running your own race}.

The second part of the research section is to develop an ideal customer profile. This can be based on a real person or 100% made up. Whatever works for you. By imagining what the ideal transaction, with the ideal person, looks like for you, you can really clarify your offerings. Not to mention it makes creating content for social media and promotion SO much easier than trying to talk to everyone all the time.

Creating a Business Plan for the New Year _ Suger Coat It

Income + Growth Goals

I listened to the Jenna Kutcher podcast about setting your pricing and there was a great tip in there about working out what your income goals are. Goal Digger is a great podcast in general, make sure you add it to your list.

I’m going to paraphrase it, excuse me Ms. Kutcher, I’ll do my best. You need to work out what it costs you to live for a year. Your expenses including any holidays, superannuation, taxation or savings. Once you know that, it puts you in a strong position for knowing how many clients you need {or want} at what price to fulfil that goal.

Don’t go into another year blind, with a figure plucked from your backside, for what it is you want to generate in income this year. Do the work, you might be surprised at how achievable your goals are when you take the time to figure it out. I mean, who hasn’t decided they NEED $15k a month when really it’s more like $7k… Just me? Awkward.

Marketing + Growth

What’s your plan for growing your business for the coming year? This is the section where you consider what you will be doing to market your business. This is such an important part of your business planning, but it’s often done week by week or even day by day. In small business, we tend to hit the ground running and only consider marketing when times are slow.

Don’t let that be you. 

Where do you want to be at the end of the year? Do you have a customer/client number goal or a financial goal? Do you really know what you want the outcome to be at the end of the year? Hopefully you do, otherwise, you need to head back to that section and get clearer.

Content Strategy

Once you have a plan for marketing and promotion, then it’s time to decide what sort of content you’ll need and for where. If your strategy is Facebook and the local paper the content you will need will be very different to someone planning to source clients on Instagram or using YouTube to promote their business. Makes sense, right?

Make a plan for each ‘platform’ including what you’ll need, the timeframes and whether you’re going to produce it yourself or outsource it. If there’s one thing we need to get used to in modern business, it’s that our businesses are going to chew through content, without a plan, we are always going to be chasing our tails.

I’ve put together a simple business planning guide for you to use. Think of it less as a roadmap and more of a mud map. It’ll show you a few key markers so you can use the tips above and plan out your year in business. The file is in my Dropbox {you don’t have to sign up to download} just click the link to open the PDF and it’s all yours. Enjoy! Leave me a comment below if you’re business planning this week, I’d love to hear from you.

Download the Business Planning Guide!

Photos by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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