Over Plan, Then Go With The Flow

I’m writing this post from the balcony of a condo in Siesta Key, Florida, where I”m on vacation to start off the New Year. Sorry, not sorry… I really needed a break…. and if you can’t remember the last time you took a real vacation, when you finish reading this, open your calendar and block out some time in the 1st quarter for your own break.

Now, back to the point of my post… yesterday, we decided to “island hop” and drove up to Anna Maria Island for the day. Naturally, being the organized person that I am, I had a plan in place before we pulled out of the parking lot. 😂 Which brings me to my travel motto, and the title of this post… Over plan, then go with the flow.

We’ve been traveling pretty regularly since my daughter was a baby, and while I used to have entire trips planned  out from touch down to take off, the summer she turned three is when I learned to let go of my agenda and just enjoy the ride instead. But, because I can’t help myself, I still have a list of “possibilities” ready for each new destination. And once we arrive and settle in, we decide each day what we feel like doing and then take it from there. The list has definitely come in handy in making sure we don’t miss any “must do’s” when in a place we may not be back to again (like Greece and the Door to Nowhere).

So for our trip to Anna Maria, I packed everything we could possibly need for the day, looked into what was happening on the island (we actually shifted the trip by a day because of my research and were able to stroll through the open air marketplace by the beach – see, it does pay to plan ahead), and checked out local restaurants for lunch. And we had a lovely day on a different beach, did a little shopping, and ate a delicious meal before heading back to Siesta Key.

So what does this have to do with your business? Much like taking a vacation to a new destination, every new year in business brings with it a plethora of unknowns. If you take my vacation motto, however, and apply it to your business, you’ll be prepared for just about anything that comes your way. So here it is again…

Over plan, then go with the flow.

And here’s what it might “look like” in real life:

  • Create a yearly plan, budget, and revenue goals
  • Break the plan down by quarter to stay focused on 90 days at a time (click here for a free template to help you get started)
  • Create a monthly to do list for execution across all areas of the business (there are 6)
  • Start thinking about the “what if’s” (both good and bad) before they happen – back up plans never hurt
  • Operate daily as if everything will go according to plan, BUT be prepared to shift and “go with the flow” if necessary.

Having a plan is a must, but holding on too tight can lead to failure instead of success. As the year unfolds, stay the course, but be willing to adjust as needed as the road ahead continues to unfold. And be sure to take a break every once in a while for some much needed time off and a chance to reset and come back fresh.

Big Changes & Little Adjustments

My daughter got her license a few months ago, and with a dad that’s a bonafide car guy (he buys them, rebuilds them and races them), together their working on “building” her very first dream car. It’s a (used) Jeep Wrangler – 4 door, hard top, all black – just as she requested. 🖤

Once she got the hang of driving it and passed her test (in a Mini Cooper 😂), the first big change was the tires. And when I say big, I mean big. She picked them out, dad swapped them out, and back out onto the road she went.

As she was driving around, turning left and right to navigate the roads and back out of parking spots, she noticed a rubbing sound she hadn’t heard before. So back to dad’s shop she went only to discover the new and much bigger tires were rubbing up against the fenders. So what’s the solution? Lift the car a bit. This was on her wish list as well, and was added sooner rather than later to eliminate the sound and the extra wear on the new tires.

What’s the point of my story you might ask?  If you’ve read more than one of my blogs so far, you’ll notice that I like to tell stories and then “connect the dots.”

When it comes to growing our businesses, it’s often easy to spot the big changes that need to be made to continue to grow and reach our goals. But in the midst of figuring it out, executing and getting everyone on board with the big change, we often forget that big changes almost always require small adjustments.

There are very few things in life that work perfectly out of the box, and we’ve all learned to tweak and adjust things as needed in our day to day life. Somehow though, we seem to forget that similar tweaks are often needed within our businesses. Like the old saying goes “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

So the next time you’re considering a big change in your business, be sure to give it time, pay attention to any hiccups you encounter, ask your team for input, and adjust as necessary to reach the best final version – which is very rarely achieved on the first attempt.

3 Questions To Ask Yourself As You Prepare For The New Year

For many service-based business owners, the holiday season and start of the New Year means a little less work 🙁 , but also a little less chaos 🙂 … and time to finally work ON your business. As you sit down to plan for your New Year, here are 3 questions I’d encourage you to ask yourself.

1.What do you LOVE to do?

As your company grows and changes, so do your responsibilities. However, you should spend part of everyday doing something you LOVE to do. Whether this means something truly IN the business (I know an owner who still loves doing touch ups) to a networking lunch once a week (don’t let anyone tell you “lunching” isn’t work), to digging into a spreadsheet and crunching the numbers, there’s no wrong answer. Just be sure to allot the appropriate amount of time to what you love (ie – not all day) so you can still get all of your other to do’s taken care of, which leads me to…

2. What do you HAVE to do?

As the owner, there are certain duties and responsibilities that only you can truly handle. Make a list of what you HAVE to do on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis and knock it out early in the day or week so you can get back to doing what you love. And for everything else….

3. What are you WILLING to do, for a little while longer?

As your company continues to grow, hiring some additional overhead help will become necessary. Make a list of all of the tasks that you’d love to hand off to someone else to execute and then, when it’s feasible, go find them. If you’re still running a solo operation, the “first hire” dilemma is usually between an office admin or a field ops person. Your list of what you love, have and are willing to do will help you determine which one makes more sense first for you. And if you already have that extra help, this is a good exercise to make sure the work they’re doing is truly lightening your load in the most helpful way.

Here’s to enjoying a little quiet time this holiday season and starting off the New Year with a plan to continue building the business you’ve always dreamed of.

#businessplanning #ONthebusiness #strategicplanning #newyear #newgoals #newopportunities

Have You Outgrown Your Bowl?

This is Denis. Well, not really – who thinks to take a picture of their goldfish? But you get the point. Denis came home with my daughter one Friday night in her middle school years after hanging out with a friend at the local St. Denis School Fair (hence the name and the uncommon spelling). She won him playing a carnival game. And while he arrived it that good old plastic bag half full of water and half full of air with a rubber band keeping him “secured”, she was smart enough to spend $3 on a teeny tiny bowl and a ziplock bag with about 3 days-worth of fish food in it.

So Denis went into the teeny tiny bowl and made his home on my kitchen counter. After about a week, I felt bad for him trying to swim around in such a tiny bowl, so off to the pet store we went for the whole package – a bigger fish bowl, gravel, a fake plant and a little rock to hide under. We got him all set up in his fancy new digs, and he was happy as a clam (ok maybe not a clam, but as happy a goldfish in a bowl could be).

In his new and bigger bowl, there was more eating and more swimming and Denis went and had the nerve to grow. And grow. And grow some more. Within a few months, he was once again a big fish in a little bowl. So back to the pet store we went for another new bowl, even more gravel, and bigger and better plants and a mini castle. Over the course of his life (over two years) we ended up replacing his bowl three times.

So what does this have to do with my service-based business you might ask?

For most small business owners, we start out on our own and it’s just “you in a little bowl” learning how to swim. Then you get settled in, and before you know it, your business has grown without you truly noticing how much. Eventually you start to feel like Denis – a bigger fish in a now too small bowl.

Most growth in the early stages of business are natural and organic, and more often than not somewhat unplanned. We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there”, and it’s true – growth is almost inevitable if you’re good at what you do. Planned growth, however, is a whole different animal. That’s where my motto – organic growth with a strategic mindset – comes in. Here are three suggestions to help you keep pace with your growth plan (and not find yourself stuck in a too small bowl for too long).

  1. Take a STEP BACK and evaluate where you are currently
    1. How many employees do you currently have in the field and the office?
    2. How many customers does that allow you to serve?
    3. Do you have the bandwidth to expand your customer base without increasing your company size?
  2. Take a LOOK AHEAD and decide where you’d like to be
    1. What is your ideal company size? Number of employees, revenue, etc.
    2. What infrastructure will you need to support this?
    3. What type of investment will this require? Time, money, personnel changes, etc.
  1. Take the time to MAP OUT your game plan on paper
    1. What needs to happen in the current year to start the planned growth process?
    2. What does your ideal company look like in 3-5-7 years?
    3. What step changes will be needed along the way to get there?

As we launch into a new year, and a new decade, now is a great time to think about your long term plans, and then set clear short term goals to help you get there. And I know it sounds old fashioned (especially given all of the technology at our fingertips) but I’d encourage you to start with a good old pen and pad of paper. It’s amazing how differently your thoughts flow when you’re physically writing things down as opposed to typing on a keyboard. Here’s to an amazing year and your best decade yet.

TFCB – Strategic Planning Checklist