You’ve heard it a million times: ‘Failing to plan, is like planning to fail.’ As cliché as it is, it’s the truth. Planning prevents repetitive mistakes, minimizes chaos and uncertainty, and helps reduce stress levels. If you find yourself reviewing your books and realizing you aren’t making plan, or you aren’t crossing off major milestones each month, it’s time to improve your strategy. Planning may seem like a daunting task, but the key is finding what works for you. Here are three steps you can begin implementing today to make next month better than the last.
Step 1: REFLECT. As the month comes to a close, you’re studying the books, checking the to-do lists and you assess your progress. (If you aren’t doing this already then you need to start!) Ask yourself; What did I accomplish? What kept floating on my to-do list week after week, but was never completed? What strategies helped and hindered my progress? What prevented me from accomplishing everything? Was it poor planning? Procrastination? Unrealistic goals? Regardless of what held you back, instead of viewing at it as failure, consider it a learning opportunity. Discover the patterns and learn from them. If you can find the patterns that keep you from reaching your goals, you’ll be more equipped to fix them.
Step 2: LOOK. Now that you’ve taken a little time to reflect on the previous month, it’s time to get the next month off to a better start! Start with lingering to-do’s from the previous month. Are there projects that can carry over into the new month? Do I need to adjust my timeline to make my tasks more attainable? Remember to consider what factors hindered your progress last month, and make adjustments to avoid them this month. Now, look at areas with growth potential. Anything that has been at a standstill for more than 3-months needs reevaluating. If you’re income hasn’t increased, your website traffic hasn’t improved, or your business is not growing, these are the areas you need to focus on. If you’ve been making just enough money to get by every month, now is the time to raise the bar. You need to not just get by, but be able to contribute to your savings account on a regular basis. Setting a goal of a 20-30% increase is realistic and attainable. While it’s important to push yourself, setting unrealistic goals that you can’t achieve will make you feel like a failure.
Step 3: PLAN. You’re aware of where you let the ball drop, and you’re clear on areas you need to improve. The important step is determining how you’re going to get there. If you want to increase your revenue by 20% to 30%, what do you need to do to make that happen? Making follow-up calls and emails with potential customers who reached out, but haven’t moved forward, is a great way to gain new customers. Often times they’ve simply forgotten. Sending a simple “You Left Something in your Cart” e-mail is a simple reminder, that can lead to a purchase. Perhaps you haven’t invested enough in your marketing strategy. Consider purchasing sponsored ads through Facebook or using Google AdWords. Look for events in your area targeted toward your demographic, and find potential partnerships. If you’re a new and growing hair reseller, you should attend every hair show in your area for the next year. If you have an e-commerce store you need to attend hair shows within a 150-200 mile radius, and eventually across the country. Don’t limit your business by being stuck in one place!
The key to reaching your goals is to always remind yourself of what they are. Use apps like Listastic and Evernote to keep your to-do lists and ideas organized, while setting automatic reminders that notify you when a task hasn’t been completed. If you’re not a tech person buying a planner and creating daily to-do lists to break your monthly goals into daily tasks is the way to go. Any of these choices will help you stay organized and on track, while giving you a clear focus of the bigger picture. How do you plan for a better month? Share your thoughts below!