Today on the podcast I’m introducing you to my quarterly planner! I know, I know, you’ve been getting emails and Facebook posts about planning for weeks now haven’t you? Bear with me – this planner geek has a super useful, easy tool to help turn your goals into focused action, 90 days at a time!
I have 2 planners I’m using this year, one is Tash Corbin’s who has a great planner for entrepreneurs to map out their goals and turn those into specific plans for newsletters, opt-ins, products and services and so on. And I also am trying out the Bliss Inventive Dream Creator journal which is a gorgeous daily diary. I have been paperless with my diaries for around 8 months, so I’m interested to see how I go with doubling up this year. I think it will work for me, cause even though my calendar is online, I find that I get so much value from writing my daily priorities as part of my morning ritual.
But once I’ve done all the planning and sketched out where I want my business to go in the year, for me all the planners are missing a component that takes the 1-year big picture plan to the daily task level.
And for me, that’s my Quarterly Planner.
I’m going to explain how I build it and use it and I’m also going to give it to you as a template so that you can build out your own.
So, there are a few inputs required for this plan and that is for you to have done some thinking about your business priorities for the year, and then drilled those down to what you want to focus on for quarter 1.
If you haven’t done that, here are a few tips for you:
1. Start by looking backwards.
This is the bit that’s easy to avoid. But if you don’t do it you risk not taking all the lessons of the year into the new year.
And it’s actually fun! And worthwhile.
And you deserve a celebration.
One thing I learned from Tash is to do an activity to list 50 things that you’ve done that you’re proud of in 2015. I totally skipped this activity and then forced myself to go back to it. The first time, I came up with 12 things. The next time I came back to it I got to 27. It took me 4 goes and I had to flick back through my diary to actually remember all this stuff I’d done so that I could list 50 things I was proud of or grateful for. And what a fab exercise that is to do, that I never would have done if I wasn’t such a compliant homework doer!
2. Go big picture
Next it’s important to reconnect with your big why, your purpose, why you’re in business in the first place. In the early years of business, it can feel like you’re constantly exploring your why because you’re trying to figure out how to best communicate it within your marketing strategy but this exercise is bigger than that. Coming back to your why reminds you why you do what you do, and that is the thing that will sustain you when times are particularly low or slow or tough in your business. It will also spark new ideas and cause you to question whether your strategies within your business are really the best things to focus on in order to live your why.
3. Map out your business fundamentals
When you think about your year, you should be thinking about all the aspects of business.
What is your dream client’s biggest challenge in 2016 that you aim to solve?
What are your goals for your website?
What are your goals for your opt-ins or lead magnets?
What products and services will you add in 2016?
After doing these steps you should have a good idea of all of the things you want to achieve in 2016. Perhaps you want to rebrand, or launch a new program or build you list.
As an example, my goals for 2016 are to do less but have more impact. 2015 was a lot of experimentation for me, as I tried different things, worked with a whole lot of people and got to know my ideal customer really really well.
In 2016, I want to strip back and focus on less but have bigger success with the things I do focus on.
4. Think about what you’re going to focus on in the first quarter of 2016.
My biggest goal is to launch PodWell again and I currently plan to run it in mid to late February.
But when I break down what I need to do to achieve that goal and the goals I have set around numbers I want in the program and the list growth I want to achieve during the launch, there’s a number of mini goals which make up that big goal.
I have a big stretch goal for the next round of PodWell, around the numbers I want in the program.
In my pilot round, more than 10% of my email list bought PodWell. This is a really really high conversion rate for anyone selling a course or program online, so I definitely don’t expect it to stay that high. A more typical % conversion would be 2% or less. So I need to assume my conversion rate will drop but I want my total numbers to grow and therefore, I need to grow my list with peeps who are kind of interested in hearing more about podcasting. And I have a number of strategies to do that, including;
- Posting relevant, valuable content on my blog and talking on my podcast with a targeted opt-in call to action
- Guest posting on other people’s blogs and talking on their podcasts
- Doing webinars: I’m planning 2 for this launch.
- And this launch I’m also using FB ads to build my list which I have not really done before.
So you can start to see this list forming of all of the work that makes up my first quarter. It might be launch-related for you, or it might be stuff around list building, or blogging, or delivering a pre-existing program. Whatever your focus for the quarter is, there will be a range of process activities and key tasks that you need to do at the right time in the quarter for the quarter goals to be achieved.
And that’s where my planner comes in.
The Quarterly Planner
So the planner is simply an Excel spreadsheet at the moment. It’s not pretty, it’s functional! And that’s because I love Excel, I like things I can see easily on one page, add rows and columns to quickly if I need to. Once I’ve used this for a few quarters, I may decide to change it up a bit, but for now, excel rocks my world!
Grab it here:
Across the top row of the Excel I map out the first 3 months of the year, or the 3 months that are in the quarter you are planning for. I then give a column to each week so for January to March 2016 I end up with 12 columns, one for each of the 12 weeks that make up the three month period.
Then in the first column I have the following sub-headings or line items:
- Promoting – primary
- Promoting – secondary
- Content Strategy
And now for each of these line items, I can now plot what I am doing in my business from week to week.
And that’s it!
So it may sound really simple, but there’s something quite amazing about being able to look at one page and see 3 months of my business and in one glance I know what I’m working on to create, what I’m delivering, what I’m attending and what I’m promoting. And I can see it in the context of a 3 month period, which is just long enough that I’m not being reactionary and non-strategic, but it’s short enough that I can feel the immediate impact my activities are having.
It also has the benefit of I can make sure things don’t overlap and that I don’t end up with a week where I need to promote 4 or 5 things!
It’s about ticking off all of the little goals that lead up to the achievement of the big goals.
So that’s the secret to my quarterly planner lovelies. I really hope that it’s been useful and remember to grab your free template!