ask the expert | how do i create a biz plan for 2012?

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we have the ulitmate guest post today on creating a plan for your little biz in 2012 in just 5 easy steps, from our expert partner megan gallagher of method & madness

The end of 2011 is coming up fast; the holiday rush will soon be over, and 2012 will start brimming with possibility.  Are you and your business ready to take full advantage of it?  Planning for a new year is always a little daunting & stressful—especially since you’re coming off of your busiest time of year. 

So, the first thing you’re going to do after the holiday rush is spend a couple days relaxing with your family & friends, putting your feet up, and drinking a few glasses of wine.   You’ve earned it.

Once you’re feeling rejuvenated & ready to tackle your 2012 business plan, we’re going to jump right in with both feet.  The first step of setting up your 2012 strategy is actually not about projecting sales, or constructing marketing plans, or designing new products.  Really—it’s all about reflection.

Taking the time to reflect on the past year’s achievements and opportunities forces you to recognize and acknowledge where you need to work, and celebrate your major wins.  Do it.

Give yourself a solid 3 hours of time—no interruptions, no distractions, no other tasks to take care of.  Just you & your journal (or laptop, or just a pen/paper…)—let’s get to work.

step one:

First, we’re going to list 10 things (big, small, or in-between) that your businessaccomplished in 2011.  Here are a few questions to get you thinking:

  • Did you meet your sales goals? Marketing goals?
  • Were there any specific launches during the year?
  • Did you add/remove any products, income streams, etc. that enhanced your business?
  • Did you get any major press or publicity for your business?

step two:

Next, list 10 things that were a challenge or opportunity for your business in 2011. They can be as big as a catastrophic product launch or as small as a dispute with an unhappy customer.

step three:

Then, let’s talk about you.  (I know.  Just do it.) What were your major wins of 2011?  Did you launch an awesome product, have an awesome entrepreneurial development, or do something that made you feel really awesome about yourself?  Let’s hear it. 

  • Did you take any classes, read any books, or attend any events that broadened your entrepreneurial horizons?
  • Did you change any of your business processes for the better?
  • Were there any initiatives (like a social media campaign or product design) that you really knocked out of the park?
  • What are the specific areas of your business that you really excel in?
  • Did you end the year feeling satisfied & proud or anxious & stressed out?

step four:

Now, where do you feel like you could’ve done better?  Knowing your own limitations is a sign of a truly successful entrepreneur—we can’t be perfect at everything.  There is always something to revise, improve, cut out, and add in.  We couldn’t call ourselves creatives if we didn’t think that way!

step five:

Walk away from the exercise for a few hours—you just did a lot of work.  See if anything pops up when you come back to it. Once you feel like you’ve got the full picture of 2011 written down, we can get started on building your strategy.  In truth, all of the information you just pulled together IS your 2012 business plan—you just need to formulate it into action steps.  I’m going to get you started with 2 big questions:

  • Look at your major accomplishments of 2011—can you use the same approach for other sides of your business.  No need to reinvent the wheel—if you’ve discovered something that really works for you, keep on using it. 
  • Rank the top 5 opportunities (for either your business or yourself) by how they impact your bottom line financials or how they might inhibit the growth of your brand—two things that can quickly kill your business if you don’t tackle them quickly.  What can you do fix them in both the short & long term?

These two questions can root all your actions, plans, and development for 2012.

Ready, set, go.

Get set up for success in 2012! Megan has a sweet new e-course launching January 2, 2012 called Leap: 2012--create awesome alignment for you, your business, and your mission in the coming year.  Check out the details on her website: