You put a lot of thought into your business- what solutions, goods, and services you want to offer customers and what value you bring to the marketplace. Having a general idea about what you want to offer and actually providing the service or creating the goods are two entirely different things. That’s where strategic business planning for entrepreneurs comes in. Taking your ideas from your mind and making them a reality requires planning and putting in the work. Having a solid project plan and scheduling your tasks helps.
Project planning and scheduling your tasks saves time and makes you money. Without them, you wouldn’t have a clear direction where to go and what to focus on which could delay getting your goods and services to market. Taking the time to formalize your plans and create a schedule to execute them will keep you moving forward and get your projects done.
Strategic planning is the foundation for your business
Once you know what you want to sell and why, it’s time to decide the overall plan to get your goods and services to market. Having a strategy is the clearest way to map out your goals, milestones, and plans so you stay on track and can measure if you are moving closer to or farther away from your goals.
Strategic plans map out the strategy for your business and help determine what resources will be needed, any division of tasks, and sets timelines and parameters for getting things done. Strategic plans can be made annually or project by project. They create an excellent reference point when making decisions or assessing progress.
Proper scheduling is the vehicle that drives strategic plans
Once a strategic plan is in place, scheduling drives the plan. Setting goals and timelines helps break down the plan into manageable pieces and proper scheduling of tasks and duties keeps the process moving forward.
Schedules can be customized to fit your unique work style but must be consistent in order to be effective. Schedules can be broken down into manageable pieces as well. A schedule could be created to reflect annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals or be looser. Additionally, having a schedule for daily tasks can fine tune the day and make it productive.
Having a strategic plan with a supporting schedule helps your business build a map of where it wants to go and drive itself to the destination. Once you determine what goals you want to accomplish and break them down, it’s much easier to focus your time, energy, and resources. Without the map, your business may simply stall.
Establish your goals and set time frames for them. Create a schedule that works for you and commit to following through and you’ll see progress and profits in no time!
Having a new idea for your business is exciting. Taking a concept and making it into an actual product or service is a lot like having a baby. There’s a ton of excitement during the planning stages and great anticipation for the new addition to the family…both literal and metaphorical.
You wouldn’t consider adding a new member to your family without proper planning. As the due date drew nearer, you’d likely take very specific steps along the way to get ready and make sure everything was in place for the baby’s arrival. It’s the same for your business projects. They need proper planning and action steps along the way to ensure everything is in place for your launch.
Annual plans give you an overview of the year
An annual project plan helps you define what projects you intend to complete in an annual cycle. An annual project plan helps you allocate time and other resources strategically. Knowing what time of year is best to focus on specific projects and mapping out a general plan helps you manage the year as a whole without getting overwhelmed or missing an important opportunity.
Quarterly plans help you stay on track
Quarterly planning helps break down an annual plan and drives tasks in three-month blocks of time. Quarterly reviews can help you determine if you are moving closer to or away from your goals. Making adjustments helps ensure your goals are met. Knowing you will be able to review your annual plan each quarter can help save time and money as you evaluate your progress on a regular basis.
Monthly planning helps with hyper-focus
Once you’ve made a goal for annual projects and determined which quarters they will be tackled, it’s time to hyper focus on the details needed to reach the goal. Monthly planning reduces the project into micro-tasks that need to be accomplished and sets them out for weekly scheduling.
Weekly planning gets the job done
Weekly planning is the laser-focused course of action for the annual plans. The tasks assigned during the week are very specific and designed to get the project done on time and inside your budget. The actions taken during the week are some of the most important and effective of all.
Planning is more than a to do list. It’s a series of plans that start out wide and funnel down over time. Having annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly plans ensures you stay goal oriented and focused on the most important money-making tasks for your business.
Building a Schedule
It’s no secret that having a schedule helps you with productivity. That being said, a schedule can feel confining and threatening if it goes against your natural and unique rhythm. It doesn’t make sense to adopt a schedule that causes frustration or resistance, especially if you are the boss. Your schedule should help you feel focused and productive without making you feel controlled and micro-managed.
Before diving into how to build a schedule, let’s take a look at what it means to have one. Even the most dependable people who self-regulate need a schedule. A schedule isn’t a task master who is there to rob you of the freedom you want most as an entrepreneur. Making peace with the idea of a schedule is an important part of building one that works with your unique rhythm.
A schedule is a guide and a method for you to complete tasks and stay focused while you work. Schedules mean productivity and time well spent so you have more of it for other things.
Here are some tips for building a schedule that works with your unique rhythm
Tip- Decide when you want to work. If you want to be motivated, making the decision about when you want to work is crucial. Having the power to choose what’s best for your rhythm will make all the difference in how willing and able you are to work. If you have the option to choose when you work, do it. If you are a morning person, set aside the beginning of the day for your most productive work time. Schedule your off-duty time when you are least productive. If you are a night owl, create a work schedule that allows you to do work later in the day.
Tip- Know yourself and take care of yourself. Knowing ourselves helps us better understand what motivates and discourages us. It also helps us take better care of ourselves. Knowing some key things about ourselves can help set work time up for success. Consider these things when making your schedule-
What things cause you distraction?
What schedule for meals and rest periods help you stay focused?
What helps you stay refreshed and energized during the day?
Knowing the answers to these questions can help you take care of yourself and keep you more productive. Build your schedule and include self-care so you can maximize your time on duty.
Tip- Protect your schedule. Once you’ve made the schedule that works best for your unique rhythm, it’s important to protect it. There are many ways your schedule can be disrupted and it’s up to you to set boundaries and limits that protect it. Learn to say no to things that are distracting or trying to force you into working in ways that aren’t best for you.
If you have the freedom to create your own schedule, you’re at an advantage. Being able to craft a schedule that works for your unique personality and rhythm is an excellent way to make your days productive and profitable.
When you first dream of a product or service for your customers it feels exciting! Then the work begins. Planning and creating and getting the product or service to market can easily become overwhelming and start to drag out. That’s why project planning is so important.
Breaking a project down into small tasks helps reduce overwhelm and get you ready to profit from your idea. What seems like a mountain of to-dos can become manageable and easier if you take the time to create small tasks. Here’s how-
Step 1. Look at the overall needs of your project. Your first task after committing to your project is to review it and look at the overall needs. Will you need a website? Do you need a new product or service to launch your product? Will you need staff? Looking at the overall needs of your project will determine which small steps are needed next.
Step 2. Hire and buy what you need. If you need to hire staff, schedule support or purchase anything to begin your project, get it handled. These small steps are the foundation for all the steps left to come that will launch your goods or services into the market.
Step 3. Break things down. There is a natural progression for all projects if you take the time to look. Break your project down annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, etc… depending on the size of your project and length of time for completion. From there, set small tasks that can be handled in a week or a day and check them off the list before adding more.
Step 4. Keep the main thing the main thing. When you are trying to see a project to completion, distractions are the enemy of progress. It’s up to you to be disciplined and determined to see things through. Don’t allow unnecessary distractions to stop your progress. Set boundaries for distractions and make sure you keep the main focus front of mind.
In the beginning, a new project idea is exhilarating and motivating. Keeping the spirit alive is easier if you don’t bog yourself down with overwhelming lists of things to do. Taking small steps every day will help you get your goods and services to market and make sure you get the profits you deserve for your effort. Keep your tasks small and do them consistently and you’ll be ready to launch in no time.
Some people work best with tools that help them laser focus. They love apps and platforms that help them stay productive and on task. Sometimes having an external application for planning, communicating, and scheduling helps everyone.
Here are a variety of tools that can help you schedule yourself or your team for better productivity
The Pomodoro method- Not everyone can run a marathon. Thankfully they don’t have to. It’s the same with work schedules. Some people can work for hours without a break and accomplish a lot of work. Others, like sprinters, are great for short bursts but need a break to refresh, regroup, and become more productive. That’s where the Pomodoro timer tool comes in. This method for productivity is well recognized as an effective way to generate high-quality work in intervals. The method uses intervals of 25 minutes for work with 5-minute breaks in between. After four cycles of work, a 15-minute break starts the process over again.
This tool can be helpful for some people who need to move about a bit between concentrated intervals of work or need to give their bodies or brains a quick rest before moving on.
Tools for teams- If you work with teams and want to keep everyone up to date, on the same page, and keep track of tasks and time, you may love tools like Trello, Monday.com, or Meister Task. These platforms are geared toward teams and can help keep communication clear and accountability high. They are a great resource for scheduling and helping staff stay on task and on time.
Communication tools- Whether you work in teams or solo, there are great apps that can help you stay connected and communicating with ease. Apps like Voxer, and Marco Polo are excellent ways to communicate with staff, clients, or your family. They are direct links to people on your contacts list and archive the contacts you make so you can easily go back and review what’s been shared. Voxer works a lot like a walkie talkie and Marco Polo includes video and has other features for adding images or attachments.
Everyone knows that tools help make projects better. Having the right tools to help with your schedule makes sense. Choosing the tools that are most beneficial for your personal work style and the needs of your business are easier than ever with the wide variety of resources out there. Choose the tool that works best for you and you’ll be managing your schedule with ease.