January 7, 2020

Episode #220 // Plan Out Your Year with 20/20 Vision

Whether it’s once a quarter or once a year, there’s never a bad time to do some business planning. To get 2020 off to a great start, Emily and Kathleen discuss the different methods for creating a plan, what types of plans you can benefit from making, and how to commit to actually following through with them.

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"A plan is that first step towards proactive action in running your business."
- Emily

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The first steps for creating a plan
  • Creating a 6-12 month thoughtful plan for what you'll be creating, what you'll be selling, and what you'll be doing in your life
  • Getting comfortable with committing to the plan
  • Starting a plan with what you already have
  • How to physically make a plan

RESOURCES DISCUSSED IN THIS EPISODE

MORE FROM KATHLEEN

Braid Creative

MORE FROM EMILY

Almanac Supply Co.

Episode Transcript

Emily: I'm Emily Thompson

Kathleen: And I'm Kathleen Shannon.

Emily: And this is Being Boss. In this episode of Being Boss, Kathleen and I are talking about creating a six to 18 month plan in your business that will help you be more proactive in your business and get more done with intention and your bottom line in mind. As always, you can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

Kathleen: Whether you're building up your side hustle or working for yourself full time, you'll quickly learn that as a creative entrepreneur, the work you do isn't always well creative. FreshBooks cloud accounting is here to help. I personally use and love FreshBooks cloud accounting. It's easy and intuitive but robust enough to keep me organized. They have automated systems that helped me track my expenses and invoice my clients so I get paid faster without the headache of chasing down payment. FreshBooks is the number one accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks effortlessly. Send professional looking invoices, organize expenses, and track their billable time. Try FreshBooks cloud accounting for free by going to freshbooks.com/beingboss and enter being boss in the how did you hear about us section

Emily: Boss, I've got a question for you. When was the last time you invested in your business or professional development in a way that you actually enjoyed? I'm not talking about that course you paid for but never completed or finally hiring out your bookkeeping. I'm talking about investing in something that's enriching and fun that's filled with deep learning and lots of inspiration. I'm talking about a conference. The Being Boss Conference going down in April, 2020 was created with the intention of reminding you how to really enjoy your business while still being valuable for you to take action and grow too. Two and a half days of boss friends, engaging workshops, inspiring keynotes, chilling over cocktails and our favorite: celebrating your success, your hard work, and your sheer bossness. Learn more and grab your ticket while they last at beingboss.club/conference. I look forward to seeing you there.

Emily: All right, Kathleen, can I tell you my very favorite part about the new year? Actually, can you guess it? Do you know what it is?

Kathleen: Probably getting a brand new planner, filling it out, right?

Emily: It's planning. Just planning,

Kathleen: Planning. You love some planning,

Emily: Right? Spreadsheets, calendars, planners, notebooks. I'll put a plan in each.

Kathleen: So that's what we're talking about today, right? Creating a big picture plan.

Emily: Yes. This is one of those things I always find, well actually it's not like creatives are bad at it. I think some super creative people have a hard time doing big picture plans, but you either are good at it or you aren't like you either either have the capacity to do it or you really struggle with doing it. So I'm excited we're going to dive into that today because I love big picture planning. I don't usually get too big. I always find that I get a little, a little scared maybe is the right word.

Kathleen: I almost just said that. I think that a lot of creatives have a hard time with big picture planning because one, it's vulnerable. So it's really saying that you have big goals, you have big ideas, you have a big vision and you want to achieve it. And then two, there's a paralysis of not knowing where to begin. You know, that chasm, that gap between where you want to be and where you are is huge. And so that can be intimidating. Where do you even begin whenever you have such a huge goal for yourself or such a huge vision. And then the last thing, so vulnerable, um, there's a big gap is just there's so many variables. There's so many other things happening whenever it comes to running your own business. And then the world that we live in is always changing. And it's impossible now to even do like a five year plan because we don't even know where we're going to be in five years or what opportunities will be available or what kinds of challenges or life things happen. So there's a lot of overwhelming things that come with planning, but at the same time, whenever you can put a plan down on paper and start to bring that to life, Ooh, there is nothing more boss than that,

Emily: Right? If you are struggling with being super reactive in your business, so you feel like you're always putting out fires, you can never get ahead. All of those things, it's probably because you don't have a plan. A plan is that first step towards proactive action and running your business. And without it you're just reacting to every little thing that pops up and you will never be in control in your business if that's the case.

Kathleen: All right, so where do we begin with talking about creating a plan?

Emily: some deep breaths? I think especially for creatives, I'm going to start like, I think it starts with getting really centered in who you are, what it is that you're here doing, what your mission is, very specifically what your values are. Values are something we talk about a lot around here where you can, you know, check around our podcast for it. We wrote about it in the book. We have a page on our website dedicated to values and a quiz beingboss.club/values. Um, I think you have to get really, really centered before you go into making big picture plans or else you're going to map a course to an end point that you don't actually want to go to.

Kathleen: Yeah, I think that this is such a great point and it's one of the reasons why even at braid creative, we create brands. But first we do a vision. We do a brand and business vision guide because you have to have your vision on paper. And I will say earlier, whenever you were talking about being reactive, I'm actually pretty reactive in my business. I'm not as proactive as you are, Emily. My style is much more reactive. But what it means is that I need to have a vision and I need to have those values. And even that brand, you know, I need to know what it is that I want to be known for. I need to know what my brand is so that I can react to the right things. You know, I'm not wasting my time reacting to all the wrong things. I'm not saying yes to all the wrong things. So I have a vision which allows me to take one step at a time, one reactive step at a time toward what it is that I want to create, what it is that I want to do. And it, it really allows me to not have a plan. Like I can have a vision, I can have a really strong vision and not so much of a solid plan to get there because I can just react along the way. So there's a couple of ways to get there. A couple of ways to skin that cat, take that out. I don't even know what that phrase means.

Emily: Oh my God. The emails we're going to get about Kathleen saying skinning cats. Okay, where are we going with that now? I'm all of this distracted about skinning cats in the email.

Kathleen: Okay. But either way, whether you have a plan or you have a vision, it's really about figuring out what it is that you want to create. Really having that, that foundation is what you were talking about. So coming back to you have to have like a foundation and a strategy before you start creating and then it gives you that freedom and flexibility to be creative and responsive and reactive because you've laid the groundwork for first, you know where you're headed.

Emily: Yeah. And I really even see this as a, as a sort of dividing factor between, you know, someone who's just doing this thing as a hobby and someone who's really turning it into a business. Um, a plan is one of those things that I think and like a long term vision centered to plan is one of the things that differentiates those two. So if you don't have a plan and you're here thinking you're doing business, then make a plan. That's how you really start doing it. Um, okay. So let's start talking about some of these more like practical pieces of making a plan and what's involved. Cause we talked about why you want to be able to be more proactive or reactive in the way that you want to be. Um, and you want to be moving towards a specific goal or vision that you have for yourself and your business as well. For me, I like to sit down and then start thinking about what it is that I want to be creating. And also I'm going to back up just a little piece and say whenever I am creating a big vision plan for my business, like Kathleen said, it's not a five year plan. I mean in five years we may all be packing our bags to move to Mars. You know, like in goodness knows the Instagram rules are going to be completely different and who knows what like a website is going to look like in five years. Um, so it's not a five year plan. For me, a big picture plan is anywhere between six and 18 months. So six being like really like a medium picture. 12 is my good, like a good sweet spot. 18 starts looking a little fuzzy for me. But I like to sort of have like maybe one or two things 18 months out that I can sort of think of. And I will tell you too, the big project that I can think of that we've done that really required some like far off visioning and planning was writing the book. That was a project where it, it stretched our, our planning timeframes in a way that we had never really stretched them before. I remember whenever they were telling us, whenever you and I were talking to our publishers about, about the date for publishing the book, it was about 18 months out. We were like, well, even be relevant then. Like are you sure this is a good idea? Can we not do it sooner than that? Um, because it can be really difficult to think that far out, but it is nice to be able to work towards big things that are that far out. But for me, six to 12 months is, is ideal.

Kathleen: Hmm. That's interesting. I'm, I like to zoom way out and find myself on my death bed, thinking about what is the life that I have wanted to create for myself. And then I kind of zoom back in from there. So starting on my death bed,

Emily: She's not kidding guys, she's not.

Kathleen: And then I go back to, I think a lot about, remember Tara Moore's inner mentor exercise.

Emily: Thinking about that just now too,

Kathleen: so I'm not sure which episode that was, but we'll be sure to link it in the show notes. But Tara, Maura has this exercise where you visualize your older self and what does she look like? What do they sound like, what have they accomplish? And so I really think about myself probably in my sixties so what's that like 20 plus years out. I don't plan on dying until I'm like in my nineties to a hundreds so then I'm coming back. Yeah, totally planning it out. And I will also mention I want it to be peaceful. I just want to fall asleep, fully functional and with it. And then I'm just gone. But, um, until then I really want to think about the life that I want to create for myself and what does that look and feel like? So I started to think about, okay, where is Braid Creative in 20 years? Is it still agency? What does it look and feel like? And I'm like, okay, that's a little too far out. So then I zoom in a little bit more and I'm like, okay, in 10 years, where would I like to be? Okay. Does that feel a little far out too? Maybe. My sweet spot is actually five years, which is funny because we always talk about the five year plan because time is moving so fast. As I get older, five years seems a little bit more achievable now. So for example, whenever we brought on a third partner at Braid, we all committed to giving it five more years. We were like, okay, let's at least be in this together for five years. We can say that. And then from there we are planning together, do we want to grow our team? Do we want to be double the size we are? What are our plans for revenue or client load. And then from there we break it down into one and two year chunks. So now I'm getting to where you are Emily, where we can say, okay, let's plan what events we'll be attending, what conferences we'll be speaking at, how many clients do we need per quarter? Do we want to get a couple more six figure clients? Like what do we really want that to look like? And that's, that's how I like to, I like to zoom way out and then bring it down so that again, I have that longterm vision of what I'm working toward in the meantime. And then I can, I can break it down from there.

Emily: Perfect. There's a beautiful illustration of how you go from that longterm vision down to six to 18 months. Um, so let's talk about this six, 18 months. Like what it is that you're actually planning, cause it new year, new you, new year, new business, whatever it may be. Um, creating a little plan for yourself is really important for moving you forward. So you think about the next six to 18 months and you start answering these sorts of questions. Um, what do you want to be creating and when do you want to create those things? Um, what are you marketing and selling and when, and you can even think about, you know, if you're a product business, think about your holiday seasons. If you are a service based business, thinking about, you know, the highs and lows in your business they are, or any sort of regular launches that you have.

Emily: Um, and what does it all mean for your bottom line? And this is a piece that I often think is missing and especially creative business owners, is you're all about planning out all the creativity, but you're not thinking about what it means for the bottom line of your business. So what does that mean for revenue? And so we're going to be talking about all of those things a little more as we continue through this episode. Um, but those are the biggest components for creating a big picture plan for your business. Um, and then we do this though because it's important. It's important for having things on paper. It's important for creating a plan. Um, and it's important to think of creating this plan in a way that is very holistic. So it's about looking at your work as well as your life. It's about looking at your entire business model, not just the piece that makes you money or not just the piece that is like the social media marketing is not piecing it together. It's about looking at your entire work life flow and all the pieces of your business at once to create a holistic plan for how it is that you're moving forward.

Kathleen: Well, and you know, now I'm feeling a little embarrassed about my death bed talk and you know, do I want to be when I'm 60 but honestly, it's that work life piece of it though. Yeah, it is. It really does bring it back down to the more micro, everyday level where we see people who feel like they're too busy to be making the things that they want to be making or too busy to overwhelmed, to be enjoying the creative thing or the business that they've created for themselves because they're overwhelmed. And I do feel like this more holistic, longterm vision of who is the person that you want to be and will help you make these choices in your every day that direct you where you want to go. So I just wanted to like justify my deathbed talk a little bit. Um, I also see a lot of people not, not being able to wear all the hats in the way that they need to wear them, especially if you're working for yourself and you don't have a big team yet or even a small team yet. Um, or maybe if you do have a small team and you're learning how to go from being the creative to being a manager, being able to put a plan down on paper is going to help you. It's just going to create space around some of the things that are overwhelming so that you can be more creative. So I know that a lot of times a plan doesn't feel super creative but it allows me for a lot of creativity.

Emily: Yes. And I will tell you, do I'm telling you all of this or we are telling you all of this, we're presenting this episode to you because we find this to be imperative for moving forward as a business owner. Um, and we run into it all the time where creatives or business owners or entrepreneurs will come to us and they feel like all they're doing is marketing and selling. There is marketing and selling all the time or putting out fires or, or just like trying to manage the team or whatever it may be. And you never have time to actually create what it is that you're here to create. And this is because you are piecing your business together as opposed to proactively planning and being the boss of your business by creating a plan you put on your boss hat and you can actually move forward and making it do.

Kathleen: And I'm excited to talk about this in this episode because I think that we both have very different approaches to planning. I am very much in my feelings about it and in the kind of vision of it. And I think that you're much more into the spreadsheets and I'm in logistics so and in Asana, tasking things out. So I think that the two of us, I mean this is why we make such great business partners, right? And I think that we're going to offer a couple of different perspectives on how you can go about it.

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Emily: All right, so what we want you to do here is to be consistently working off of a six to 12 month plan and whether that's like a very just sort of vision feeling base or for me it's very like a sauna based.

Kathleen: I think it's both. I think the six to 12 months is definitely both.

Emily: for sure because, and even, you know, opening this, I am very like spreadsheets, Asana, but even opening this is the first thing you do is brief. You know, the first thing you do is really get into their feelings. Um, so that you can, you can move forward. Someone came on the podcast once and maybe you can remember who it was. It was like, and they said how you spend every day is how you spend the rest of your life.

Kathleen: Yeah. And I think that that's like a pretty, you know, Pinterest-y quote that goes around, but it was Katie Lee who said it.

Emily: That is correct. That is correct. Um, so you know, for this purpose, think of like how you spend every month in your business is how you're going to spend every month in your business. I mean, thoughtful about it.

Kathleen: Do you hear people say, Oh, I'm in a crazy, crazy busy time like this, this week or this month is crazy, but next, next month is going to be easier and spoiler alert, it never gets easier. It's always going to be crazy. Especially if you're being super reactive or over committing yourself or not creating boundaries because you don't have a plan.

Emily: Yeah, for sure. I saw a funny meme about that recently is like adulting or like adulting used to be paying your bills and now it's simply saying I'm in a crazy busy time and it never getting any less busy. Um, right. So what we want to do here is make you a thoughtful plan for moving forward by creating a six to 12 month plan in your business as to what it is that you're going to be creating, what it is that you're going to be marketing and selling, what it is that you will be doing in your life.

Emily: Um, and how you can use that to move forward. Because I, I have been using this tool for years. I think it was one of those like interesting little like intuitive business practices that I caught onto very early in my business. And I still do it pretty constantly. Every couple pages in my notebook has one of, has a little calendar in it. Um, so we're going to be looking at, or I think you should be looking at every 12 months, at least once a year. Beginning of the year is always a perfect time for doing this. Um, so sit down now, tomorrow, next week and create a 12 month plan for yourself. Um, once I have a 12 month plan mapped out, and it always is that, you know, the first six months of that plan are always like chalk filled with all kinds of things who know exactly what's happening.

Emily: And towards the end of that 12 month plan, I'm a little less sure about what's going to happen, but there's always things there, um, that I can be moving towards. I like to do a six month plan every quarter, so all year long, every six months or every quarter, I'm sitting down to create a six month plan. So I always have a very clear vision of what's happening in the next six months. And I also go into every one of these plans knowing that things will shift and we're going to talk about that a little more soon. Um, but if you're one of those people that's going, Oh my God, I could never create a six to 12 month plan, you're not carving it in stone. You're just writing it on a piece of paper.

Kathleen: Well, in some parts of your plan you are carving in stone, you know, and so then you know what your non-negotiables are. You know what you need to accomplish in order to pay your bills. You know which vacations you might be taking and sure, yes, things change, things shift, but I think that at least a six month plan up to 12 months is very doable. I think that it's reasonable to have a plan for 12 months out.

Emily: Three months for me is in stone more or less like the next three months. Like I know exactly what's happening. Things are already in place. We're already moving towards it. Three months for me is, is pretty much in stone. Anything beyond that I think has a little, is a little more moveable as needed.

Kathleen: One thing that I think about whenever it comes to creating plans, especially if you're in your first couple of years of starting your business or if you haven't even started, you know maybe you're a side hustler and you haven't quit your full time job yet and you're still just piecing things together or you're doing lots of different little jobs and you don't have your one big plan together yet is really start by tracking data. I think if you can track data, if you can at least commit to tracking what's happening and keeping note of it, it's going to help inform your plans moving forward. So this especially relates to things like conferences that you want to attend and how to conferences then affect your sales or opportunities that might shift your revenue or even things like just busy times and slow times of the year. Emily, even whenever you were designing websites, you found this natural rhythm of busy times and slow times.

Kathleen: And you know, now at Being Boss, we have a rhythm here after four or five years of doing this where we know when the vacation is happening or you know, when people are thinking about planning. I mean definitely creating content is a huge part of our plan and um, I really think just tracking what it is that you're doing, what periods of time feel slow, how your marketing efforts pay off. This is going to be huge in creating your plans moving forward. So this is just to say if, if creating a plan feels like you're throwing, you know, darts at a dartboard in the dark, then maybe you just keep track for a while. Keep track of what's happening.

Emily: I will say that throwing dartboards in at the board in the dark. Wait, wait, wait.

Kathleen: Throwing darts at the dartboard dark boards in the dark.

Kathleen: Oh that is something you would do.

Emily: Probably, probably. Okay. Starting that one over. I do think that throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark, um, is still a good practice. If we're sitting down and creating plans, I think if you're just starting out, try three months, just, just do three months and start working your way up. But absolutely yes to be tracking data. So at Almanac we are two years in two years. I'm at about the time that this episode comes out, we will be, it will be our two year anniversary, which is super exciting. Um, and we're just now able to sit down and actually create a plan. We've been sitting down and creating these like three month plans of like, okay, we know we didn't need to do these things to continue moving things forward, but we have been tracking data and two years into it we have two years worth of sales and marketing to see those ebbs and flows in business to see which holidays are going to be our biggest, which ones are going to be duds and we should just be taking our vacations during that time or whatever it may be.

Emily: I'm two years into it. We're just now able to sit down and create a solid six month plan, which is really nice and still kind of visioning beyond that six months. Um, but it, it does require a couple of, at least two years I think of just looking at data, but still sitting down to practice what it's like to take that proactive action towards planning the pieces of your business that you can, well, and what I will say is that if you're new to planning, start with fewer variables, right? So for Almanac, for example, you're two years in, maybe in your first year it's just, okay, we're launching with candles. You have one product that you're launching with, and then you slowly add in product and then events you have just a couple of popups and then the next year you can say, okay, I think we have the capacity to do a holiday market or a more full season market.

Kathleen: Right? So I think that if you can start with a smaller amount of offerings or events or launches, don't try and do all the things that's going to help you plan. For sure. For sure. Okay. Let's talk about some like problem areas. It's like, okay, so I was just coaching or meeting up with a client, a braid method client, and we did her braid method. So her brand platform and everything probably over a year ago. And she has a fully developed and beautiful website that she has not gone live on because she didn't have a plan for what was next. This website's probably been done for like I'm guessing three to six months, man. And she hasn't gone live because she didn't know what to do after that. So this is where I will say don't let, not having a plan hold you back from taking the next steps. And this is why it's so important to have a vision and trust your vision. Even if you don't have a plan. And sometimes plans can look different for different people and taking the next step might spark what your plan becomes. It might help you decide where you're going. And from there you can start to map it out. So that's my big thing I want to say about problem areas is don't let not having a plan hold you back.

Emily: Well, my thing about problem areas is that I often find that people who struggle with creating plans have problems doing it because they're scared of committing to a plan or they're great at making plans, but don't stick with them. And I think that if you're going to run a business and make a plan, get comfortable with committing to that plan and don't get two months into it and decide to decide to pivot every time you get two months into a plan, you're never going to build a business that way. Commit to it for me, that three months committed totally six months committed totally. Year? There's some moveable-ness, but I'm gonna be here doing this thing for the next 12 months. That's not in question. And you mentioned even, you know, at Braid, you guys giving yourselves five years. Um, I did the same thing as I have taken on Being Boss. I have committed myself to five years, five years to being here doing this thing. So I'm just a year at a time over here, right? Kathleen is just 12 monthing it. It's fine. Um, but I think that that is an important piece of the puzzle. And again, one that I see creatives struggling with more than most business owners, um, but as one that is completely important for you, building a great sustainable business. Um, so if you struggle creating.

Kathleen: this kind of interesting because I feel like I struggle with planning and maybe it's the kind of thing where I'm holding myself to planning at your level Emily, like the spreadsheets and the numbers and all of that. Like maybe I'm holding myself to different kind of plan, but I don't because I don't like doing that kind of planning. But I do feel very committed and maybe it's because I only have one offering at Braid Creative. I mean for the most part, you know, for a new entry level clients. And then from there we're kind of repeating our cycles. Like we're in this good rhythm and we can just, the plan is the rhythm that we've established for ourselves, you know, and the plan is kind of the chalkboard, which we'll get into later and just filling up the spaces that we know we need to fill. So maybe I do have more of a plan than I think I do.

Emily: Yeah, it's just your business plan is just like, it's just the business plan that's rolling for sure. You haven't had to create a new plan in a long time, which is maybe the thing you feel is missing, but that's because you've committed to building a business with a plan that works. And this is state. So I made the plan 10 years ago and I'm still just rolling. Rolling with it. Right. Doing it, doing it. All right, so whenever it comes to creating a plan, we sorta hit on some questions a minute ago, but we're going to dive a little bit more into what this plan can look like or what sort of things should go in this plan. And I always like to start not with the things that you want to create, which most people are like, Oh my God, I'm going to plan so many things. No, don't do it. First, start your plan with what it is that you already have. Remember those things?

Kathleen: Is that rhetorical? Is that a rhetorical question?

Emily: That was me being passive aggressive?

Kathleen: I was like, wait, am I supposed to answer? [inaudible] all right. Start with the things that you already have. So you're talking about if you already have an offering, which this is another thing, you have to have something to sell in order to have a business. Yeah. Right. Fat reminder there.

Emily: That is a fact. So what offerings do you already have? Um, you can think about what of those offerings sell best. So we actually have a worksheet, um, called What's Working, What's Kind of Working, What's Not Working. You can access it in the show notes for this episode at beingboss.club. But this is a really great worksheet for looking at the offerings you already have and see what is selling best, what is kind of only selling what's not really selling or was working kind or not working. And so you can think about anything that needs to be improved upon.

Emily: So in that six to 12 month plan, maybe you think about improving that digital product that you haven't touched a long time or bettering your onboarding system for that service offering that you have or doing the next iteration of, you know, that physical product that you have, whatever it may be, think about how it is that you can improve upon or maybe even completely scratch some offerings that you already have.

Kathleen: I really liked that you're talking about internal iteration and improving upon your offerings that you have. And then also pairing that with thinking about how you're selling it, right? So what's working there? Is Instagram working for you or your market's working for you? Is Facebook working for you? I hear so many people planning out tactics that are currently not working and it's like, okay, let's look at what's working and maybe double down on that.

Kathleen: I mean, even just the other day I had a client saying, I'm only getting my business by referrals and I want to have a plan so that I'm getting business elsewhere. I'm like, well, what's wrong with the referrals? If the referrals keep coming, those people are only going to refer you to more people and then those new clients are gonna refer you to more people. It's clear that your work is good and solid and I felt like she was disappointed that I wasn't telling her to go out and buy some Facebook ads.

Emily: Way to waste some money when you don't need it, right. I do feel like that's how we feel about Facebook. No, I think referrals are always seen as like the old school way of doing business or like those are, that's like that's not real because you didn't sell it or whatever it may be.

Emily: But that is the golden egg of, of selling, of being able to easily sell. Other people are selling for you and you don't even having to pay them to sell for you like that is, or that is what you should be working for.

Kathleen: The quality of your work is selling itself. So I feel like my theme for the past year at being boss has been just do really good work. Like just plan to do really good work. And this is where, you know, even with my planning and whenever I think about planning, if I can just plan to do the best I can do any given day, I trust that it's going to pay off. That's a little bit of a tangent though.

Emily: I, I think it's a good tangent. I want to go on this tangent with you for a minute. Can I hop on this tangent?

Emily: Yes. And you keep talking about that because that's the piece that people have forgotten. People have traded, doing great work for Instagram or for talking about how other people can make money doing the exact same thing that they're doing or whatever. Like people have forgotten the importance of just being great at what it is that you do and letting your work speak for itself instead of you sitting there speaking about your work that you're not even doing because you're spending all of your work or all of your time speaking about your work. Right. Which was a lot, but like I, this is important guys. It is so important. Now I'm getting off that tangent.

Kathleen: Well, I'm going to see on that tangent for a second because I feel like it actually articulates something that I maybe wasn't explicit about in our last episode about the Being Boss buyout and me stepping out a little bit is I love talking about the work, but the amount of work that was going into us having the privilege to talk about it became a full time job.

Kathleen: Right. And I missed doing the work. I miss like getting in there and building things out with my hands. And you've missed that too. I mean it's why you launched Almanac and basically you just have two full time jobs now, but always you've planned for it. Yes. So back to the plan.

Emily: Right? Off bus, back to the plan. Okay. So you're going to be thinking about the offerings you already have because don't forget about those. How can you improve them? What can you scratch? Like how can you make the business that you already have working work better. Then after you've thought about those things, you can start thinking about the things actually know before you start thinking about those things. So first what you already have. Second, think about the things on your calendar that are unmovable. So things like holiday. So if you're a product business, especially, you know the holidays are going to be all about marketing and selling and just surviving for the most part.

Emily: So like block off those areas is times when you're not going to be creating new things. You don't have time there. Think about other busy times. Whether that's a regular launch that you're all always doing or maybe it's like big travel time. Think about vacations, think about other family stuff like the month that your kid goes back to school is probably going to be a little too busy for you to sit down and write that book that you were really wanting to write. So thinking about the unmovable things on your calendar that need space on that calendar as well. And I always like to think about this is whenever you put those things into your business plan, you are then planning your business around your life, not the other way around.

Kathleen: Yes. This is the thing that I'm planning the most for moving into 2020 is really looking at my calendar and the demands on my time. So I'm putting in vacations and travel first and the things that either I've already booked or will want to book and looking at when I have time to do those things and looking at different launches next. But really just that travel piece for me is huge and making space and getting intentional around, okay, here's an example. I want to go to Oklahoma a couple more times maybe next year than I did this year. So when can that actually happen? Where would it fit in, in between everything else that's happening. If someone wants to come visit me, when would the best time be for that? So I really want to start to map those things out so that I'm creating space for them. And then also leaving space for things like if we're invited to speak at a conference or if we are get like a last minute travel opportunity for a different client.

Kathleen: It, things like that. I want to make sure to not overbook my calendar, but then that's really creating that vision for what do I want to make space for.

Emily: I love it. That's how you do it. That's how you do it. So you're going to look at those two things, the unmovable things in your calendar as well as the things in your business that you already have that you want to improve upon one way or the other. And then you get down to what it is that you want to create next. So whether that is a book that you want to write or a new offering that you want to create or a new product line that you want to produce or whatever it may be, then go into that calendar and think, which months can you put those things in.

Emily: I also like to maybe back up just a little bit. I also like to designate a month as either more work heavy or more life heavy. So like even by the name of the month I'll put work or life, because either that's like a vacation or me doing a hardcore creative product or whatever it may be.

Kathleen: How many work months do you have and how many life?

Emily: I try to keep them pretty even. Oh wow. I tried to. It usually ends up being probably like eight to four. So eight work to four life's.

Kathleen: So this is where creating a plan would be very helpful for me in thinking about what you want to create because I've had this idea to just do a small six episode series, kind of like how you do Making a Business on branding a business. And it's an idea I've been mulling on for a year and I've liked having it on the shelf, but I'm ready to take it down from the shelf.

Kathleen: And that's where I would start to create a plan, you know? And so getting down on paper, what do I want to create? When could we record this? Are we recording in person? And it really is just a series of questions. Just thinking through the logistics and the time frame. And plotting it out in Asana or on your paper calendar, on your Google calendar and just taking the next steps. And then beyond that, I don't have to have a plan necessarily for launching it. I don't have to have a plan beyond just let's make a plan for recording it and then we're good. So that's another thing that you might think about whenever it comes to that three month to six month plan is that three month plan can just be phase one of a project and then the next three months can be phase two. But if I don't write a plan for this, it's going to be another year before it happens. Yeah.

Emily: Or it may never happen or maybe never, unless your inner mentor is like, yo Kathleen. Right.

Kathleen: My inner mentor just wants me to like be painting and [inaudible] and being like some sort of hippie that eats a bunch of seeds. See, that's my inner mentor right now.

Emily: Um, what if you were to plan out, is that like killing the creativity? You plan out painting or you create a plant? Like, let's say you have a goal of creating three new paintings this year.

Kathleen: Yeah. Uh, no, that's actually really good point because this is actually a blind spot for me probably and probably a lot of our listeners too, as I have this vision of being a painter. But that means buying a canvas, mixing together paint, sticking a paintbrush in the paint and applying it to the canvas. This painting is not going to paint itself. So for me it's um, that's less planning and more getting into a habit. So actually I've gotten into the habit of playing piano and learning how to play piano. So again, I'm like in this artsy phase of my life and it's just committing to the habit of practicing for 10 minutes a day. So with painting, I do feel like this art begets more art. And so I might be playing piano for 10 minutes and then I want to procrastinate from playing piano. And so I'll procrastinate by picking up a paintbrush and then painting. But then that thing, that means I need to have supplies on hand. So my plan is to have supplies on hand. And that's, that's the best I can do there. I love it. It usually ends up being that I've painted one or two great paintings a year and I'm good with that for now.

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Emily: Okay. I want to hit really quickly on this idea of creating new things because like I was talking earlier about making sure you are committing to your plan. I also think you just need to commit to your business. And so when you're thinking about creating, I challenge you to think about what it is that you can offer clients or customers that you already have. So your existing clients and customers as well as experimenting with new offerings, whatever that may be as opposed to launching new brands and new business plans.

Kathleen: I feel very strongly about this. So I really like offering my existing clients new offerings before I launch it as something that I'm offering. Just anybody because I'm able to understand how it's working for my existing clients and how it fits into the holistic vision of my business. And then like, so for example, you know, at Braid Creative, we do brand platforms, but we also do have an in house media team and we could get into maybe digital advertising for our clients. So scratch what I said earlier about Facebook ads. They're great. You can see as I give a big thumbs up actually they are great if you have a very specific target and if you have a budget, if you don't have those things, keep working toward it. But anyway, so it's not something I want to offer just anybody out the gate. I want to offer it to someone that I know it would be a good fit for or things like I'm getting back into coaching some of my Braid Method clients. I'm not coaching people who have not been through the Braid Method, you know, so really just leveraging where I already am and what I've already accomplished versus launching something new. Right? Leveraging versus launching

Emily: And nurturing the people you already have. People too often forget that you already have customers and clients. Nurture those people. Um, and then I also want to pull in this idea of, you know, making this a holistic plan. How does everything work together? So whenever you have this plan, you probably have several different sides of your businesses that you're looking at a couple of different offerings, you know, marketing versus creating whatever it may be. But the beauty of creating a plan in this way of creating a, a sort of a long term plan is being able to look at how it all works together. So think, you know, does the launch of one thing lead into the launch of another thing? Did you know things easily tie together. Does a marketing section need to move to create space, to create art, to create space, to create basically, um, how did these things work together so that you're not just like, you know, plugging away and really like, you know, building a house without a plan. I feel it's what this, imagine you building walls and forgetting to build a roof or whatever it may be. Like make sure you put all of the pieces in place and that they all play well together.

Kathleen: You know, this actually made me think about the chapter in our book about creating your different plot points and imagining it as a garden. Like what is it that you're wanting to make space for it and how does this whole garden work together? So that's actually a whole section on boundaries, which is funny because boundaries, habits, routines, mindset, all of this too plays into making a plan. But I really think about what it is that I want to make space for and how does it all look together and how does it, how do I become a farmer, you know, and plant seeds that might not come to fruition for another 12 months, but then what seeds are going to grow really fast and what did I plant last year that I can just water and give some sunshine and harvest this year? So for me it's, whenever I think about the holistic piece of it, it really is thinking about more of the timing and seeing what's coming to fruition of my previous labor.

Emily: For sure. Hmm. I love that. Make pretty gardens.

Kathleen: Okay. How do you literally make your plan? And this is where I get very visual and I think this is where a lot of people get a little blocked up. Like how are you literally doing this?

Emily: Very easily? It's so basic, so basic. So I take, I have a little, what is this like a eight and a half by five, five by eight and a half, five star notebook on my desk at all times. Unless I move it and then I get really distraught cause then I can't find it. And I sit down to meet with my little note notebook with a pen and I block out three months sections going down a piece of paper. So, you know, we'll start January at the top and put January, February, March. Quarter one. Moved down a little bit. April, may, June quarter to move down a little bit. And so on that whole page, um, it's the entire month and these little sections divided by quarter. And then underneath each of those months I write down whatever I'm planning to do. Am I launching something? Am I creating something? Am I, am I just doing like a marketing push for this thing that I've already created?

Emily: Am I updating my email funnels? Am I, you know, am I hosting a conference? Am I planning a vacation? Am I doing whatever it may be? Each, each of those things goes underneath the applicable month. And then I use that to go further into something like Asana or you know, a Google doc to plan it out further or whatever it may be. But every few pages in my notebook has a six to 12 month little calendar in it so I can go back and see how well I committed to a plan. If things got scratched, if you know, if a month got totally derailed and none of the things happened, whatever it may be, I can go back and see what my plans have been, how they all came into fruition and continuously move forward with a new six or 12 month plan. What about you, Kathleen?

Kathleen: Yeah, so for me, whenever it comes to planning, this is where it's good to have a business bestie or a team or business partners. If you're solo, I recommend finding a business bestie or someone that you can start to hash out a plan with because planning is very fluid. It can be fluid, it can be, everyone can do it in a different way. And so if you're doing it with someone else, they might see things that you're missing. You might see things that they're missing and it can help you put things to paper, right? So I really do like the putting things to paper and I do like thinking about a whole year at a time and then breaking it down into quarters. So for me, this looks like I'm having a big planning session with my team and we have white pieces of paper taped all over the office walls.

Kathleen: And we're looking at what are our goals, who are some of our best clients right now? So all the things that we've been discussing, what's really working, what, how many clients do we need to have in order to hit this financial goal? And what do we want to do about continuing education? Or what conferences do we want to attend? What are we speaking at? What conferences are we speaking at and what do we imagine we could do to really leverage those speaking events into getting clients? And so it really is looking at a bunch of different things like that. And then from there we start to put together a plan and the plan for us is usually just do more of the same, like work the plan, keep it working, but how can we tweak it to create goals for ourselves to hit milestones and things like that.

Kathleen: And then for sure the Chalkboard Method. So making space for what it is that we want. If the Chalkboard Method is a new term, if you've never heard that word before, go to beingboss.club/chalkboard and you will find a ton of resources. We've done entire dedicated episodes about it. We have worksheets on it and it is the thing that we've been using at Braid Creative since day one to make space for our plan. So that's me. And then Asana, which we both use and love. And that's really taking the quarterly plan and then breaking it down into tasks that are delegated to specific people and making sure that people are being held accountable to their part of the plan.

Emily: For sure. And I will also say here, I use a sauna for personal projects. So if it's something where no one on my team is doing it but me, it still goes in Asana because I can go in and say, okay, I have this one month section that I am doing this one task and it's going to take me four weeks to do it and here are the 20 tasks that I need to do to get it complete.

Emily: And I can map it out over the next month so that I can show up in every day, check off the things that by the time deadline gets there, it's complete. And it wasn't just this thing that I procrastinated or never decided to flesh out or whatever it may be.

Kathleen: I have the smallest personal project, which is basically taking a series from my blog and putting it into like a printed book. I own it. Take it. Yeah, from like digital to physical. And I just, I've gotten like halfway through it, but I bet if I plotted it out in Asana, you know, I think I don't have time. Well I have time to scroll Instagram, like I definitely have time.

Emily: Amen to that. Amen to that. Yes. Put it in a sauna. I put so many personal things into a sauna because Asana keeps me accountable to showing up and doing the work that I need to do. So all that to say, that's how we sort of map out as six to 12, 18 month, the section of business in terms of what it is that we're creating, uh, iterating, marketing, selling, vacationing, chilling out, whatever it may be.

Kathleen: And I want to say just about the logistics of creating a plan. They exist all over the place. So like you said, Emily, they're in our notebooks. They're in our planners, they're in our Google calendars, they're in Asana, they're on our chalkboard. Your plan can exist in a lot of places. And I actually think that's really great because you're hitting it from all angles and it's constantly in your face. You're being reminded that you have this plan. You have all these different places that you can become accountable to it. And then there are places where you can automate your plan. That's a whole other podcast episode, guys.

Emily: Whole other episode right there. It can go. It should go everywhere because as it goes in other places, it becomes a little more real every single time and that's that's how you, that's how you make it all do.

Kathleen: Okay. But I want to plug my favorite resource and shameless plug, really, I mean this our CEO Day Kit, I cannot recommend it enough when it comes to, if you need a framework for getting your plan on paper, it's such a good framework. It's taking all the different pieces of planning that we've used from setting our values to creating a marketing and revenue plan to crunching our numbers and how does that fit into your plan. It really is taking all the different bits and pieces of planning that we've been doing for the past decade in our own businesses and bundling it together into worksheets. I mean are you still going to be offering the CEO Day Kit, Emily? Am I plugging something that doesn't exist anymore?

Emily: No, it definitely does. I've been spending a lot of time in CEO day kit actually over the past two months sort of. I've got it switched over into the new online community, which is very exciting. So if you want a community as well as CEO day kit, it is in that place which is a ton of fun. We're going to be doing some live Q and A's but I've been going through their content and it was like it was reignited in me how awesome and amazing this product is. But yes, everything that we've talked about today, this sort of six to 12 month planning. Um, if you want to see what it looks like, there is a section in CEO day kit that walks you through this very specifically called a revenue in marketing. We even have like a printable worksheet where I take pretty much the template of what I do in my notebook and we made a worksheet for it so that you can plan everything out including the revenue piece of this, which we barely touched in this conversation, but is much deeper in CEO Day Kit.

Emily: It is the last and final section of that kit. And it is a product of working through all of the parts of your business to get to this concise holistic 12 month plan for your business. Um, I love CEO Day Kit. I mean again, I've fallen back in love with, it's awesome. This and this piece, um, is one that, you know, you do it at the beginning of the year for your like annual CEO Day. But again, every month or so I'm getting out my notebook and I'm using the concepts again and again and again to keep me on track towards moving towards my goals.

Emily: And with that we move into 2020 with a plan. I'm super excited.

Kathleen: I am too. So now you can go into 2020 with a plan and 20/20 vision.

Emily: Snap. I love it. See you on the other side.

Kathleen: I'm going to go buy a planner, get out my chalkboard,

Emily: right? It's, it's time, it's time to do all the things. Let's make it do.

Emily: Thanks for listening. And Hey, if you want more resources, we're talking worksheets, free trainings in person meetups and vacations. And more. Go to our website at www.beingboss.club. Do the work. Be boss.

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