It’s time for a fresh, modern twist on business planning. The new entrepreneur builds a business based on passion, creative expression and meaningful work. Her business supports a lifestyle that enhances her well-being and those prized relationships around her. All this passion and creative energy gives a lot of fuel for ideas but how do you actually get organized and get things done? This type of business owner needs innovative new tools to turn her ideas into action. Here are seven modern business planning tools for the successful creative entrepreneur that support a new way of being in business:
1. Start with Your Vision
Use your creativity to create a vivid vision story of your business and your lifestyle. Let yourself dream and tap into your desires for the type of business success you really want – your way – supporting a lifestyle you love. Make it juicy and filled with details about what your average week is like three years from now. Then when you are faced with big decisions about the direction of your business, check in with your vision story and see if you are in alignment with where you want to go. This keeps you from reacting to every idea that comes your way, and into taking actions that move you toward what you really want while supporting a life you love.
2. Create A Vision Board For Your Ideal Client
Develop a vision board to get really clear about your ideal clients. Collect photos, words and pictures that depict qualities of your ideal client. Make her come to life! Include pictures of her in action, her different moods, and her lifestyle. Add photos of real potential clients too. This will help you get clear when you are creating products and services for her and when you are marketing. Imagine writing to the women on your vision board as you write articles!
3. Capture Your Ideas for Peace of Mind
One of the reasons creative business owners are so successful is because you have a lot of terrific ideas and yet the downside is that you sometimes feel overwhelmed because you have so many. Making a simple list can feel overwhelming because creative people don’t think in a linear process. Use a mind map (either hand drawn or through a software company such as MindJet) to quickly brainstorm ideas and projects, thoughts and random ideas in no particular order. You’ll be able to breathe easier knowing you’ve captured them and have a “container”. Then you can start to sort and decide which ones to start with now.
4. Map Out Your Ideas on a FlowLine
Do you tend to resist goals and deadlines? Use a Sticky Note Flowline™ instead. Use big pieces of flip chart paper or a large white board. Draw a line across the middle of the paper and create hash marks to indicate the next twelve months across the line. Using different colors and styles of sticky notes to chart out your vision story for the next year makes it fun, creative and practical. Yellow stars for collaborations throughout the year, arrow notes for consistent marketing strategies, and green notes for sales potentials. By charting out the flow of the next year you can quickly see what’s missing, where your growth points are, or even how the idea of launching that big promotion when you are also spending the month in Tuscany isn’t the right time. No worries just move the notes around to the right timing. This method allows you to p-l-a-n (often a 4 letter word) without feeling rigid, and instead to commit while working with the natural flow.
5. Schedule Focus and Reflection Time Every Day
It’s so easy for creative types to charge into their ideas first thing in the morning, finding themselves getting lots of little things done and never getting to the important bigger impact ideas. The surprising secret to getting the right things done is to slow down. Try it for a week. Block out one hour at the start of your day each day to get grounded, inspired and focused. Read something inspirational, journal and feed your creative flame in a way that also grounds you. You may have to block this time out with a black permanent marker at first so that you don’t start giving this time away. Look at it as “business time” not fluff time. Notice how your day flows with more intention and creative progress in the areas you want to grow.
6. Create Daily Giggle Goals™
The yellow legal pad to-do list is famous. Famous for being overwhelming and making you feel less than productive because you never get it all done. (And honestly, you never will do all the ideas you think up!). Use your vision story and your own energy as a guide to create your daily to-do list. Select three things – only three- that are bite-sized steps that will get you closer to your vision. These three things are ones that will have you giggling with delight at the end of the day when they are done. When you use your joy energy you are more likely to get them done, especially when they are small steps. For example, outlining your bio page instead of saying you are going to redo your whole website, would be a bite-sized do-able step. You’ll be amazed at how this little shift in how you manage your day will give you big leaps in joy-filled action. The momentum usually will lead to more things getting done – or you can take the rest of the day off and enjoy feeling so productive on what matters!
7. Work with a Mentor or Coach for Accountability
Save time, money and frustration by working with an expert who has already walked the path you want to take. It’s a powerful relationship when you have a dedicated champion who you can turn to for resources, support, clear thinking, and busting those limiting beliefs that hold you back.
Laura West, SpiritRICH™ Success and Business Coach, specializes in supporting coaches, consultants, speakers and heart-centered entrepreneurs in creating a successful business that is “holistically joyful” – it’s meaningful, makes money, and allows you to enjoy a life you love. You can find out more at www.CenterforJoyfulBusiness.com.