Running an online business can seem overwhelming at times. As an entrepreneur, you wear many different hats. So it’s easy to get distracted from task to task. When that happens, chances are that you aren’t pushing your business forward as much as you could be.
So how do you stay focused? Well, one of the best things you can do for your business from the very outset is to have a clear plan ahead. Here, I’ll share with you the strategy that has been working brilliantly for me in my business, and I’ll also give you my own template I use to write and plan out my goals (scroll to the end for that).
Set Short, Medium and Long Term Goals
Decide on the most important tasks, determine their priority, and add them into your calendar. An effective way to get this done is to write out a 1 month, 3 month and 12 month action plan. The 1 month plan sets out your immediate high priority tasks. Your 3 month plan gives a broader list of things you must do in the next 3 months. And your 12 month plan concentrates on bigger tasks that are going to help you expand your business.
Focus On End Results
Many people make the mistake of writing plans that concentrate on everything they need to get done.
The problem with this is that you lose sight of the big picture. You lose sight of your goal.
Start with the end in mind, and focus on the results you want to achieve, rather than what you want to do.
This will have two benefits. First, It will help you stay focused, as you can keep checking back on that goal and looking at how you are going to achieve it. Second, it is measurable.
For example, if your goal over the next year is to build your email list, it is better to write this in your plan as:
I want to get 1000 subscribers,
That is a clear result-orientated goal that’s measurable, and is a far better goal to aim for than simply planning to “grow your email list”.
Before You Start
Before you put a plan like this together, here’s a few things to mention:
1) Your plan will naturally change. Things will crop up in the year that will need to take priority. That’s normal. But do make sure your overarching plan for the year stays broadly constant, even if minor things alter course.
2) Get every task in your calendar, or on your to-do list. It’s easy to write a plan and ignore it. But if you discipline yourself to working to a task list (or a calendar) then you will find your business progresses much faster.
3) Brainstorm with other business owners. I always recommend people join online networks or masterminds, and creating a short, medium and long term plan is something that you can often do together.
If It Was My Plan, Here Are Some Of The Things I Would Focus On
It’s your plan. Only you know what’s write for your business. However, if you’ve followed my blog for long enough, you’ll know I have an opinion on these things. From my own experience, I’ve found some things more important than others. So if it was me, these are the types of priorities I’d make sure are in my plan:
Email subscribers are still the #1 marketing tool, and until (if) that changes, I’d always put this high up on my priority list. And don’t forget: this isn’t just about the number of subscribers you achieve. It’s how you nurture those subscribers once they are on your list.
I could have written branding here, but to be honest when people hear the word brand, they immediately think I’m suggesting they spend tens of thousands on a fancy website. There is no need. Instead, focus on the core elements of a good brand: having a clear, consistent message that gets across to your target audience.
Clarity on products or services
Get clear on what you want to sell. Don’t follow the crowd, and don’t sell something because you think it might be profitable. Your heart has to be in it, because when it is, you’ll produce your best work. And your best work is always going to be your most rewarding (as long as it’s profitable too, of course).
Create content, consistently. Some gurus tell you nowadays you can skip that step, and that’s just not true (trust me, I tried and failed!). Good content is what will attract your audience and encourage them to come back to you time and time again. So whether your preferred medium is video, podcasts or blog posts, get creating.
A big presence on social media is essential, because it’s going to attract customers, and get you consistent traffic to your website. So I would personally always make sure social media is central to my planning. Focus on one or two platforms that align with your business and your target customer, rather than trying to master them all.
Finally, make sure you include some goals that will allow you to grow as a person and as a business owner. Businesses aren’t static, and they certainly don’t exist in a static universe. The online world changes so rapidly, so you need to make sure you are always open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Free Planning Template To Download
I hope this has given you a starting point for your own plan. And to help you out, I’ve also created a template you can download and print to put your own goals down in writing.
No opt-in necessary – just click the link below and download my 3 page planning template: