Maintain and Create to Grow Your Business | Quarterly Planning Series
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When it comes to planning for your business, it is something that is essential for you to become comfortable with in order for your business to grow. Yes, you could not plan, and continually be creating, marketing, emailing, and posting to social media on the fly, but with that can easily come a lot more stress, a lot of unrest, and in general, a lot more of, well, simply put, an opportunity for chaos.
When you take the time to plan things out for your business and work from a place of rest, knowing what each day, week, and month will hopefully include as you move forward within your business, it will help you in so many ways.
You always want to make sure to have some flexibility built in, in order to be prepared for unknown circumstances that may come up when planning, but for the most part, you'll know what to work on when.
Also, although we won't be going deep into reviewing the previous quarter in this blog post specifically today, it is vital that you take the time to reflect and review upon the previous quarter before you move forward with your planning.
Think about what worked and what didn't, what you can put on "cruise control" in your business and what you need to make a main focus moving forward. Where do you need to ask for help, and what do you need to improve upon in order to help your business grow?
Specifically today, we're going to hone in on how to do quarterly planning for your business, in order to help you to focus in on three months at a time.
When it comes to quarterly planning, breaking it down into four different categories like these will help you to continually grow: what to maintain, what to create, what to promote, and what to learn.
What to Maintain | what can you put in "cruise control" for your business this quarter?
What to Create | What will you create, both behind the scenes and products and/or services?
What to Promote | What products and/or services will you be promoting for the next quarter?
What to Learn | What do you want to learn for continuing education as a business owner?
Although every quarter will be different for your business, thinking of how everything in your business continually ebbs and flows, if you could choose one of those four categories to focus in on the most for this quarter in particular, which one would it be?
Keep this in mind as we work through this series with you together.
Due to the amount of the content we included when creating this for you, we've set it up as a three part series.
Part One | Getting Started, What to Maintain, and What to Create (you are here!)
Part Two | What to Promote
Part Three | What to Learn
Want to know when the additional posts are live? Input your email address here to receive a link to them directly in your inbox when they're available, along with receiving a free download to pair with the post below!)
For this post today, we're going to specifically go into what to maintain and what to create. Ready? Let's go!
What to Maintain:
The first area we suggest to look at is what to maintain. What is working well in your business, that you can put into "cruise control" for the next three months (or only work on for a very small amount of time per month) so that you can focus more on other areas in your business?
If you have your business systems all worked out and sailing smooth, do you need to spend more time putting systems into place? Or, can you maintain these, knowing you've figured out systems that keep you moving forward continually?
If you know that logging in to Quickbooks every Friday at 8am and spending 30 minutes of focused time reviewing finances, balancing your books, and reviewing tax details, do you need to check in and casually glance through things, spending time on it every single day? Or, can you say to yourself "I have 30 minutes per week for this specific item within my business." The goal here is to think, what can you put into maintenance mode so that you can be more productive for that specific item during that specific time each day?
When it comes to social media, can you plan out all of your posts in one hour per week, pulling graphics, writing captions, etcetera, all in one sitting on a desktop computer, rather than doing a post from scratch every day from your phone? This way, when you're on social media outside of that time, you can spend your time posting and engaging and being social on social media, rather than using that time planning your content.
When it comes to business planning, do you do the best when you plan things out on a weekly basis in a paper planner, or do you prefer using a digital program like Trello or Asana? Is this working well, and something you don't need to "fix" or "mess with" anymore?
Think about maintenance mode like you do when you're driving your car on a highway and put it on cruise control.
As long as you keep doing what you're doing consistently, you can maintain the same speed and get where you need to go. The items you put in maintenance mode are ones you don't stop or start over and over again, but maintain at a consistent pace.
What to Create:
This category has two main components, and is vital to helping your business to grow.
What to Create - Behind the Scenes
What do you need to create in order for things to run like a well oiled machine? For example, these are specific items:
Do you need to write your mission statement for your business so that you can be more confident overall with everything you create for your business?
Do you need to create systems in your business so that you can know what to do or what happens when? This may look like workflows or writing out a customer's journey. Or, it may even be creating a schedule so that you know which days and times you're working on client work, and which days and times you're working on back-end business items.
What are your branding touchpoints for your customers? Do you need to create a promotional card that you'll tuck in to each order and mail out with your orders? Do you have a client experience set up, or your mission statement
Do you need to create a template for your Instagram stories, so that you can make them quicker each time?
Do you need to create a Trello board with a list to house all of your business classes you've purchased, so that you can keep track of which ones you've started, worked through, and completed?
What to Create - When will you be selling what you create?
This is what most of us think of when it comes time to create things for your business. Think about this from a monthly perspective, broken down into quarters.
Q1 - January, February, March
Q2 - April, May, June
Q3 - July, August, September
Q4 - October, November, December
You may need/want to start working on your Christmas Collections in June of Quarter 2 or July of Quarter 3, or begin working on a Quarter 2 Summer Collection in February of Quarter 1. This is different for every business and dependent on how long of time it will take you to create and finalize everything, but generally you want to give yourself more time than less when it comes to planning. We suggest to work backwards from your launch date, and make sure that you have time to work through things with the time needed so that you aren’t rushing.
Suggested Resource: Creating Cohesive Collections Class
What products do you want to develop?
Are you going to create a new collection? If so, do you need to spend this time creating the overall collection and what it will become, focus in on the design aesthetic, developing color palettes, ordering samples, or working through the style overall it will become in the weeks ahead?
Or, will you expand your products, creating additional pieces that compliment a collection you already have in your shop? Perhaps you've created mugs and prints, and you want to expand to offer pillows and canvases, or hats and shirts with drop-shipping capabilities through a company like Printful.
What services do you want to offer?
Is there something that people have been asking you for, that you are thinking about offering but need time to work through it for your business? If you're a branding designer, it might be that you want to create a page on your website to hold a place for potential clients to schedule a discovery call with you to see if you'll be a good fit for their logo and branding requests.
You may want to create a Facebook group as a way to connect more with your clients and customers, and give them a place where they can build community as well. This will be something you'll need to spend time developing and working through, in order to make sure you're serving those in your group well and adding things in that they will find valuable for being a part of it.
Or, you might be pretty good at one particular thing, and know that there is a "hole" in the industry for it, where you can meet people's needs specifically. Could you take the time to create a course, or an e-book, that will take time for you to develop, an item that will establish you as more of an expert in a specific, niche topic in your industry?
However, I also want to encourage you that the creation stage is not always time spent creating something new.
Are there products and services you offer currently that you can build time in to go back and refine, in order to make your business one whose products that speaks more to your ideal client, rather than offering every possible thing you can think of? It's not always about more, more, more. Sometimes, it's about doing less, and doing it well.
In order to give you a place to hold all of your thoughts, we've created a free download for you to jot down your thoughts on these four specific areas for your business. In addition, when the next post goes live, you'll be one of the first to know, with a link to it directly in your inbox!
Take a bit of time to work through these two things and think about what you could maintain and create in your business for the next quarter. We'll continue more with step two, what to promote, on Wednesday of this week, with determining a quarterly plan on what to promote for your business.
Sign up to receive the free download below, and we’ll email you when the post is live. We hope to see you back here on the blog on Wednesday!