Thirty-one percent of people who glance at the headline of this article don’t need it. You can move on.
Here is how I know. I have been honored to be named a “Thought Leader for Financial Advisors” by BrightTALK, a worldwide, very high-end webinar platform. One way they develop their business is to select “thought leaders” who are invited to deliver a webinar which is, of course, presented on their state-of-the-art platform.
Presenters like the honor. I get introduced to people I would not otherwise meet, and my clients are introduced to the BrightTALK platform. It’s totally win-win. On Jan. 30, I presented “Business Planning 2013.” I have posted this webinar as well as “Business Planning 2012” at www.billgood.com/2yearplan.
During the presentation, I asked a question, “Do you have a business plan?” One feature of the BrightTALK platform is a “voting” capability. The answers were:
- Yes, but it’s all in my head. (34%)
- Yes, but I don’t refer to it. (3%)
- Yes, but it needs some improvement. (31%)
- Yes, and it’s in pretty good shape. (17%)
- Yes, and I refer to it frequently, updating it as necessary. (14%)
If you are one of these last two categories, go read something else. I probably cannot help you. But if your plan “needs some improvement,” or worse, stick with me. I’ll show you how to improve your planning process.
Yogi Berra gave the obvious answer. “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.” But there are several other answers. They include: “Sleep better.” “Think better.” “Trigger creative ideas.” “Get more done in less time.”
Think I’m kidding? Spend a few hours following the procedure I am outlining here and enjoy these and other benefits.
At the foundation of my planning discipline are these steps: (1) Write it down. (2) Categorize it. (3) Prioritize it. (4) Based on priority, get it done sooner or later.
Here is an example. I recently figured out how to use a particular feature of Amazon.com to help people write better seminar invitations. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it’s quite magic. I decided to call an online article I’ll soon write about it, “Amazon Magic Tricks.”
So let’s apply the planning process.
(1) Write it down. I did that.
(2) Categorize: To do this, you have to have a framework consisting of objectives, sub-objectives and tasks. The objectives and sub-objectives are your categories. In this case, I decided this belonged in the category, “Research Magazine Folder.”
(3) Prioritize: Here’s a tip. For me, prioritizing is a two-step process.
I prioritize within a category, such as ideas for blog articles. “High priority” is a task I want to accomplish in the next week. “Highest priority” needs to be done in the next day or so.
Then, once a week, generally Saturday morning, I can review all my categorized items, upgrading some to high priority and downgrading others. From my “high priority” list, I select my “highest priority” items. That’s what I will get done in the next week.
(4) Get it done. “Amazon Magic Tricks” is a “high priority.” But you can be assured it will become highest before this article is published.
To go through the four planning steps I just outlined, you need a planning framework.
If your plan includes lots of tasks, you need some software help. Doing this on paper or even in a Microsoft Word document is messy at best. At worst, stuff gets lost. As of right now, I have 144 tasks I’m managing. For me, task management software is a life saver.
I have checked out countless programs to help me keep track of my plan. The best I have found is Swift To-Do List. I have posted a link to it over on my 2-year-plan page, where you will also find links to the two business planning webinars I did for BrightTALK.
This screen shot from Swift demonstrates what I mean by “planning framework.”
You write it down. You categorize it. It’s obviously related to your objective “Develop invitation different from competition.”
In prioritizing, you consider many factors. As you study it, you remember you need to turn in your invitation to compliance in two weeks. It earns a high priority. On Saturday, when reviewing your tasks, you move it to “highest.”