The Easiest Way To Create An Annual or Mid Year Plan For Digital Creators (takes an hour or less!)
Do you have a plan for your business for the next six months or year?
Is it something you've been meaning to do, but not quite got there yet?
Or, do you have a plan, but it's in your head?
If you don't yet have a plan for the next six months at least down on paper, this blog post is for YOU!
I'm sure you know the importance of planning and you likely do it in other aspects of your life but you may be forgoing it in your business, as it feels like just another thing for the to-do list.
Just like you wouldn't head to the airport for a two week vacation without an airline ticket or accommodation booking (unless you're pretending you're on Race Around The World - aka my dream type of trip 😍), planning out what you're doing in your business can save you a lot of stress and headaches.
Knowing what you're aiming for and how you're going to get there is key.
Even though I'm generally not so much of a planner, I always love to do a mid-year check-in planning session around this time, to get important dates on the calendar. The rest of the year can fly by in a blink and goals can go unmet without it (especially if you're about to go on Summer chill time or a Winter hibernation).
If you'd like to get your goals mapped out and your calendar planned for the rest of the year, this is my super quick process for mapping everything out.
It takes around an hour, sometimes less and there are 4 main steps I go through.
I use a 12 month wall planner that I can use whiteboard markers on for maximum flexibility, but any digital calendar or diary/calendar of your preference will work.
Step 1. Lock in Important Dates
The first thing I do is write important dates and commitments on the calendar.
This includes things like:
- family events or important activities (don’t forget school holidays/vacations)
- birthdays (I have a no working on my birthday rule 🥳)
- current commitments (for example I have my #GSD implementation weekends for the rest of the year planned out already, so I put those on, as well as important dates for affiliate partners) and
- any existing launch plans I’ve committed to for my own products.
Step 2. Determine goals for the rest of the year (and beyond)
Picture yourself on new year's eve with a bottle of champagne. What do you want to be celebrating that you’ve achieved?
- Is it that you’ve finally left your job and you’re working on your digital business full time?
- Is it reducing your hours so you're only working 20 hours a week on your business instead of 60?
- Do you want to cut your client roster in half and create half your income from digital products and affiliates?
- Do you just want $2-3k a month to splurge on fun stuff you couldn’t otherwise do?
Then, work out what you’d need to do to make that happen. For example, if you want to leave your job and work on your business full time, you need to be bringing in at least $5,000 every month.
Then, consider what projects you’d need to complete to make that happen.
- Create a digital course
- Start selling your client process templates
- Offer coaching or 1:1 consults
- Publish a weekly blog/youtube video/podcast episode
- Get your email list started
- Create a lead magnet
- Do a challenge launch for the program you already have
- Create a resources page for products you’re an affiliate for
- Launch a membership
- Get your evergreen funnel created
Write down all your ideas.
Step 3. Get picky! Choose the 4 most important projects
I kinda suck at annual planning - a year in advance feels like a lifetime and every time I’ve created an annual (or even six-month) plan, I’ve changed it before it’s barely in play.
To counter this, I break my time into what I call a six-week smash. Long enough to make great progress, short enough that my squirrel syndrome doesn’t derail me. My suggestion is to stick to just ONE project during each six weeks (then have a rest week and do another six-week smash).
Having ONE goal or project to focus on at one time, makes it much more likely you'll finish it.
But - what do you choose when you have 15 projects on your wish list from step 2?
You’ve got to pick 4 of them.
Either choose the ones you think will be the most likely to help you achieve your goals, or give them some additional ranking factors to help you work it out.
On a scale of 1-10 in terms of:
- Biggest impact - how much will this project help me hit my NYE goal? 1 for not much, 10 for abso-freakin-lutely!
- Biggest cost (in time or money) - rank 1 for a big cost/time impact and 10 for low cost/time impact
- The most fun - will you enjoy doing this? The critically important, but often overlooked factor… rank 1 for this kinda sucks, 10 for hell YES!
Then add up the score and see which projects float to the top. Then shelve the rest until next year (or if you manage to get these ones done in less than six weeks).
Part 4. Time to smash it out
Work out a rough plan of which smash will go where (this is where knowing your important dates will help!)
Give each six-week smash an allocation of six weeks time on your calendar, with a week in between for rest.
If your first project has dates that will clash with something already on your calendar, you’ll have to either juggle things around or pick a different project first. It’s SO much easier to do that now, rather than realise two weeks before you’re launching that you’re also going away for a girls weekend, then having your wisdom tooth out and it’s your son’s birthday.
Make your annual calendar the single source of information!
Once you’ve chosen your first six week smash (aka SWS), brainstorm all the steps you’ll need to take, to achieve the end goal. Ideally your project will be a smart goal:
Making a vague goal that isn't related to your main business purpose is going to be really hard to achieve (and if you don't make it specific and measurable, it's hard to know if you've actually achieved it)
“I’m going to launch a course and make $500k (which may or may not be achievable depending on your current circumstances)
a SMART goal might be:
“I’m going to launch a digital course for $197 with a pre-sale challenge launch by the end of September. I am aiming to get 10 sales to validate my idea and if so, I will then have the course created by the end of October. I'd like to then re-launch in early November for $397 and get 25 sales to hit my revenue goal of $12,000 by the end of the year”
Then once you're super clear about what your goal is, it will be easier to work out what you need to do to achieve that goal.
Fun tip to track your progress
If you like post it notes and have some spare wall space in your office, write out everything you need to do for your six-week smash and put them on post-it notes, organised on the wall.
Then, each day, choose the 3 most important things from the wall and work on them before you do anything else. Block that time for project work out in your calendar and make it a non-negotiable. Whether it’s an hour a day or 6 hours on a Sunday - make that appointment with yourself to get it done.
As you finish each task, put the notes in a clear jar or container that you keep on your desk and you'll have an ongoing reminder of just how much you've done! Watching the jar filling up and the notes coming off the wall can be really motivating!
Also, do a quick check-in at the end of each week to see if you're on track and how you're progressing towards your six week smash project goal. If you're not on track, it may be a good idea to work out what you can take out of your task list or simplify/outsource, in order to reach the goal.
That's all there is to the simple mid-year check-in planning process I like to go over for my digital product business.
1. Note Important Dates
2. Note Your Goals
3. Prioritise Your Goals
4. Turn Them Into Action via a Six-Week Smash
Happy planning! Sue x
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