Most business owners know the value of a developing a business and marketing plan before a business is launched. But once the proverbial open sign is lit, many neglect to focus on day to day operations, managing with little more than an over-loaded e-mail inbox and a to-do list scratched out on a sticky note.
If you aren’t meeting your goals, it could be due to the fact that you haven’t defined them. Creating a productivity plan gets you organized and allows you to accomplish more in less time.
A productivity plan is simply an outline of tasks that you intend to complete on either a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Tasks can range from basic operations to marketing and sales activities. Use your plan to get the most out of each work day.
Designing Your Plan
Design a plan that fits your individual goals. If there are specific tasks that you need to complete each week, designate a specific day of the week to accomplish each task. For example, you might review financial statements on Mondays, schedule one-on-one time with your staff on Tuesdays, focus on marketing activities on Wednesdays, and so on.
Assigning tasks to days of the week will help get you into a routine and minimize procrastination. In addition to specific daily tasks, you can also create a list of other goals to accomplish throughout the week. For example, a consulting business might include the following tasks: attend a networking function, update three pages of the website, make a new media contact, contact three potential alliance partners, develop one new worksheet for clients, and complete at least seven introductory calls.
The tasks for each business vary greatly. When developing your list, ask yourself these questions:
*What tasks will help me with my general organization?
*What do I need to do to make sure I am constantly marketing my business?
*How can I improve the company’s bottom line?
*What tasks should I be doing that I tend to avoid?
Here are some ideas to get you started:
*Perform X number of cold calls.
*Write and send a press release.
*Evaluate reports (website traffic, P&L statements, inventory, etc. ).
*Attend a business networking event.
*Read an industry-related book or e-book.
*Add new content to website.
*Write X number of words for book manuscript.
*Make contract with X number of potential alliance partners.
*Submit an article.
*Develop new marketing campaign.
*Give away X number of freebies.
Take it Seriously
Write your plan in either a word processing document or in a spreadsheet format and update it regularly. Print it out and post it near your desk so it’s always handy. In addition to a weekly plan, you can also define monthly and yearly goals. Once you begin to check off tasks, not only will you feel a sense of accomplishment, but your productivity will inevitably improve.
Your plan doesn’t have to stop with you. If you have employees or a virtual assistant, be sure to create plans for them too. Soon everyone in your business will be working smarter and your only regret will be that you didn’t create your plans sooner.
Sample Weekly Plan
*Review weekend sales reports
*Meet with staff to review weekly goals
*Place merchandise orders
*Work on newsletter
*Develop at least one new promotion idea
*Make six cold calls
*Write thank you notes to clients and vendors
*Spend two hours on new product development
*Clean up e-mail inbox (less than 30 messages)
Other Weekly Goals:
*Attend one networking function
*Lunch or dinner with a client
*Lunch or dinner with a business partner
*Investigate new advertising opportunity
*Read one trade book or report
Stephanie Chandler is the author of “The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!” and founder of http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. Subscribe to the newsletter for hot tips and small business tools by sending an e-mail to Newsletter@BusinessInfoGuide.com.