What has worked for me is to abandon traditional business planning in favour of Planning Expeditions or business planning days. Since 2004, these twice yearly, day long outings have helped me address the challenges of business planning as a soloist.
Here are some of the problems commonly faced by soloists, and how my style of business planning helps address them.
Running your own business can be lonely
One of the isolating aspects is the lack of people to bounce ideas around with. Planning thrives on ideas, so how do you generate them?
My Planning Expedition consists of a day long offsite to which I invite current staff, previous staff and Advisory Board members. This allows issues, ideas and outcomes to be raised from different perspectives. Everyone attending has an informed, but varied view of my business. If you don’t have staff or an Advisory Board, formally invite valued friends and family to your business planning day. You’d be surprised how many people in your network will be happy to take time out for a structured planning session.
Not taking the time to celebrate your successes
The business planning day starts and ends with a celebration of what we have achieved in the last six months and ends with where we want to be in six months time. For your staff and your close network of supporters, it’s a chance to reward their commitment to you and also a chance for everyone related to your business to gain confidence from your achievements.
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There’s never enough time to set goals, let alone review them
As a result, it’s easy to get lost in the “doing business” and ignore long-term strategies for the business.
Set a regular schedule for your business planning days and, if possible, schedule them for quieter times in your business’ calendar. We started to do our Planning Expeditions in December and June, but changed them to January and July as they are quieter periods for us.
You read business books but don’t have the opportunity to incorporate them into your business
Base the Planning Expedition on a business book and allow it to set a broad agenda for the day. Use the book to create a structure and framework for working through ideas on the day, but don’t be afraid to veer away from the book’s focus as you begin creating your own ideas and strategies for your business.
Has anyone used a similar technique to my Planning Expeditions? Or do you prefer to create your business plans alone? Tell us what works best for you.