The New Year is fast approaching – under normal circumstances, 4th quarter is a time when most of us reflect personally and professionally on what we did and did not accomplish in the year, decide what our new goals will be for the year ahead, and sometimes build a plan of what an ideal year would look like. Here’s the timeline: October-December we plan, we hit it hard in January with a few action steps that reach for the stars, but by mid-February or early March we have abandoned all or most of our ideals and activities and go back to old habits. We quickly get overwhelmed and run into obstacles not planned for and end up only getting the minimum done because the amount of time and effort we put into our objectives at the beginning of the year was way too hard to keep up the momentum long-term.
Let’s dissect this phenomenon as it relates to your business (WARNING: these questions may sting). Do you still have a menagerie of items on your “get your business and marketing in order for 2020” list? Do you have tasks from this year’s planning that you started but still haven’t finished? Do you feel overwhelmed with what you need to do, what you should do, and what you want to do? Have you tried creating a new to-do list from this year’s list of items you still have not yet accomplished as means of helping you plan to reach your New Year marketing goals?
If you are still reading, you must have answered “yes” to one or more of the questions above. If you found yourself following that “yes” with a “but Mendy, you do realize that there was a pandemic, government forced shutdowns, social unrest, political warfare, and, and, and…” Yes, I realize 2020 has not been an easy year for anyone. However, in the wake of these unprecedented times you should be asking yourself, “Why has it been so hard to bounce back?” Here’s my opinion: 1. You may not have had a solid marketing plan for how to reach out to your public and 2. You may have been missing a meaningful purpose in your messaging.
Your purpose should be defined first. It should be unwavering, and your support staff should share in your passion and the mission of the organization to help the public you serve. Your plan comes next and should span across many channels. Start by reflecting on your To-Do list (remember, this is not your marketing or business plan for 2021, but these tasks must get done). Start by answering these simple questions: What is the reason you had those particular items on your current list — what is your REAL motivation for getting them done? If you have staff, why should they care to help you? Is this simply a task to get done or is this item a goal that will forward progress professionally? Once you have a defined plan of goals, then the question remains, “Why is this goal important?” I’ll give you a hint… the answer should be aligned with your purpose, or the plan will fall apart.
The key to accomplishing any goal is knowing why it’s even on your list. Not just a reason — a meaningful why. If you are only doing something because you know you have to, or because someone else told you that it was necessary, or even just because you want to, but you have no real meaningful “why”…then what is your motivation to do it, complete it, or care about the task? Your “WHY” is the most important ingredient to successfully accomplishing your goals (personal or professional). Without it, you’ll just look and feel busy with no clear purpose; therefore pushing tasks further and further out into the future or not accomplishing your goals at all.
In business, every activity you or your staff will do must coincide with the Purpose, Mission, and Vision of your company’s product and service. This is your “WHY.” If you don’t have these statements written out – stop now and do it! Map it out on a white board or a monster piece of paper on a conference table. Get your executives or consultants involved in this discovery process. This is vital! This exercise should answer these questions: What is your end-game? What do you want your clients, patients, or customers to experience when they choose you and your company? What do you really offer to the public and what makes you unique? What image do you want to show your public? What does your ideal public look like? This is where you START in planning. If you don’t have this first, no goal will succeed to its potential. Write it out, and make it known to your entire team. Everything else you do is built around this discovery process.
Now let’s talk about planning — written and organized goals and steps to support your “why.” Yes, I said it several times already — “write it down.” You’ve heard it before: Successful Planning = Written, Clear, Concise and Measurable Goals. Does that mean over complicate it? I’ve been there, done that! I’ll try and make it easier for you, so here’s what I suggest: after you have a clear idea of your Vision, Mission and Purpose — write down only two or three Strategic Big Ideas that you believe will help you achieve your Purpose in the next 12 months. Take each Strategic Big Idea and write out in paragraph form why you need to accomplish each goal. Start with what you have already done in that area, then continue to write out what needs to be done, changed or enhanced to accomplish your goal as it relates to your “why.” This may mean two to three paragraphs that really tell the story for each Strategic Big Idea. Once you have these strategies written, you’ll work on your Major Project List.
This is the tactical aspect of your plan design. Under each Strategic Big Idea that feeds and markets to your purpose, make a Major Project List of items that support achieving each main goal. For example: your Strategic Big Idea may be to re-brand your company and your Major Project List may consist of items like updating your logo, creating a new company brochure, building a new website, etc. You should have a Major Project List for each Strategic Big Idea. Don’t worry about how you are going get the projects done yet — we are almost there.
Once you have your Major Project List for each Strategic Big Idea, then you prioritize the projects under each goal, keeping in mind that some of them may have similar priorities to reaching immediate targets and may need to be started simultaneously. I find it helpful to go back to mapping on a white board and outline what should be done first in order to make the next project easier — you’ll start to see the whole plan come together as a unit. This priority list may change as you start to put the action steps in motion, but at least you have built a track to run on right out of the gate.
Now it’s time to create your Immediate
To-Do List. The key to maintaining stamina in the implementation of the plan is the idea you should be weaving new activities into your schedule gradually so they become part of the fabric of your current lifestyle or work ethic. Pick a project or two off the list and write down steps you believe are needed to take that project from start to finish. This is now your Immediate To-Do list. Don’t try and make a list of steps for every project on the board. This is where most people give up in the planning process and why most plans are not implemented. Only take the first step of the selected project(s) and put it on your Immediate To-Do list, give yourself a realistic deadline, and then do it. When it’s done, put the next item on your list, and repeat until the project is complete. Then start listing steps for the next prioritized project on the list until they are all done and you reach your goals.
As you begin the New Year with Big Ideas and goals, just know that with proper planning and a meaningful “why,” you can maintain your momentum by doing on-going planning using prioritized list of projects and tasks — with your “why” keeping you motivated all year long. When you have a solid plan, you can build momentum and easily shift and pivot if and when the economic environment changes. This will prevent you from having to start over and will help you maintain consistency with your target public and secure the space in their minds for when they need the vital service you provide.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that creating a market for your service is only half the battle. You must also systematize the delivery of your service to the highest degree of quality and care. However as an Owner, your loyalty does not actually lie with your business. Your loyalty should be devoted to your Household as a first priority. If you build this fabulous business on the foundation of only sustaining itself, you have failed as an Owner. Does that sound harsh? Maybe so. But it’s the TRUTH! Your planning must start at the Household level to achieve REAL financial success. This is an entirely different subject and should actually be your starting point! If you would like to know more about what I’m referring to, I dare you to contact me for more info. It’s vital to your business survival!