Here’s some of my favorite questions to ask when we are doing strategic planning work – whether it’s with clients or within my own biz.
Q1 – Why?
This one word is my favorite question of all time and I use it often. You have some amazing ideas of what you want to accomplish – why? It’s so easy to go from “let’s do this thing” to “alright, let’s lay out a plan”… but is it the right thing to do? Why is this important? Why now? If you (or your client) can’t answer the why question in a deep, meaningful way then I would hesitate to move onto in depth planning yet.
Q2 – How will we know if we are successful?
When we aren’t clear on what success looks like, we will never be successful. It’s not enough to have goals like “more money” or “more clients”. Or to “work less”. Exactly how much money? How many clients? How many hours do you want to be working? Specifics are measurable and you can build your plan to work towards them. [This is also a great place to ask why as well – “I want to make $X next year… why is that important? what does more money allows you to create in your business & life?]
Q3 – What do I want my role to be in all of this?
If you are anything like me, you may default to doing way too much yourself. (yes… I am a recovering control freak. 😉 When you are planning it’s important to also plan for what you want your role to be. What do you want to do? Not want to do? What should come off your plate? (even though you could be doing it.) Give yourself permission to let go of the things you no longer enjoy and the places where you shouldn’t be involved anymore.
Q4 – Who can do this better than me?
This goes along with the previous question – as you clear your plate you will want to look for folks who can step in and bring their brilliance to the table. I like to look through the lens of “who can do this better than me?” vs. “who can I hire to do this” as it brings a different flavor/expectation to the table (and I promise you, there are always people out there who are better than we are at the things we should no longer be doing.)
Q5 – What if this doesn’t work out?
Yes, I’m all for big goals and having a positive attitude about it all. But I’m also a realist and like to spend some time considering the options if it doesn’t work out. What if we don’t reach our goals? What impact does that have on the business? On revenue? On me as a leader? What is our backup plan if we don’t reach our goals? [I’m a fan of having a list of ‘fastest path to cash’ strategies in my back pocket for these moments… as we all have them!]
I’m curious – what are your favorite strategic planning questions? Comment here and let me know.
PS: Heads up on a couple of things that you may be interested in…
1. I’m going to be having a ‘flash sale’ on 1-1 strategy sessions later this month – a 60-minute session for just $597 (I rarely offer standalone sessions and my coaching packages start at $3000 and up). If you are interested in getting some 1-1 time with me stay tuned…
2. I’ve got a monthly ‘mini retreat’ series planned for the new year, and am going to be offering a smoking hot deal if you sign up before the end of the year. These 3-hour virtual sessions are designed to be both affordable and highly impactful (I love when we can make meaningful change together in just 3 hours a month.) More details to come…
3. I have another round of the Certification Accelerator LIVE starting in the new year. If creating a certification is on your list for 2022 hit reply and I’ll put you on the early notification list.
We need both strategy & mindset to be successful in business:
- Strategy is the outer game of success – what is the best way to accomplish our business goals? How are we going to get from A to B to C? It’s the tactical, practical side of things.
- Mindset is the inner game of success – what goes on inside our minds and how does that affect our actions? Where do we stop ourselves?
It’s not hard to find good strategy these days. There are endless trainings, books and programs out there that can lay out the path to get from A to B to C. Doesn’t matter if you are wanting to learn how to hire better or create a strong marketing funnel – a quick search online will have many solutions right at your fingertips. Heck, we can even find all the strategy we need for free on YouTube.
Strategy matters, but it’s not the bigger challenge for most of us.
What matters more is what we tell ourselves. Our thoughts, beliefs and fears. Things like:
“I don’t know enough yet”
“Once I have more experience then I’ll be able to….”
“What if it doesn’t work out?”
“I’m scared I’ll mess this up!”
“What will they think of me?”
“Everyone else seems to have it all figure out – why am I struggling?”
“I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work”
“I know what I need to do, but I just can’t seem to get it done…”
I could go on – and I suspect you could add more of your own stuff to this list.
Any one of these things can stop us in our tracks. Stop us from taking action on the strategies we know are effective. Cause us to self-sabotage ourselves every step of the way.
And it’s totally normal to feel this way – to have worries, doubts and fears. I like to say mindset is 83% of the journey (not an official statistic, but certainly reflective of my personal experience as well as that of my clients.)
It can also be our biggest ally, when we are able to get our mindset on track and working with us (instead of against us.)
I’m curious – how important is mindset in your success journey? Hit reply and let me know.
I remember a mentor of mine saying this during a mastermind meeting years ago:
“Show me anyone’s calendar and I call tell you exactly how successful that person is”
It was a real HMMMM moment for me… what was my calendar saying about my success?
Put simply – what he was really saying is:
Where you are spending your time will determine how successful you are.
Do you want to find more clients? –> How many hours a week are you spending on client finding activities and having sales calls?
Do you want to delegate more? –> How many hours a week do you spend just ‘doing the work cause it’s easier in the moment’ vs. prepping to delegate? (creating SOPs, training folks, etc)
Do you want to become a stronger leader? –> How much time are you investing each week in expanding your leadership? (training, reading, working with a coach)
Likewise, your calendar will show you where your activities are at odds with what you really want.
You say you want to find more clients, but you just spent a week trying to figure out how to update your own website.
You want to get admin stuff off your plate, but you keep jumping into all the odds and ends that need to be done each day.
You want to get out of client facing work, but you keep setting the expectation with clients that you will be the one to do everything (even though you have a team on board to help.)
If you aren’t making progress towards your goals, take a moment to ask yourself:
Where is my calendar at odds with what I want?
Get real with yourself. Be honest about where your time is going each day. How often are you distracted or diving into the little things. Or going down a rabbit hole of TikTok videos for 2 hours (which I just did last night… is it just me? 😉
Ask yourself with everything on your plate, is this thing I’m doing taking me closer to my goals or further away? <– because it will always be one or the other
We only have so many hours a day to commit to our work. Let’s make sure we are making the most of that time, so we can move as quickly and gracefully as possible toward our goals.
If you take time off and still have to work… is it really a vacation?
I daresay it’s not!
And yet I get it… as business owners this is easier said than done. We have clients who rely on us. Stuff to be done. The business needs to keep on running even when we want to step away for a few days, a week or more. (We might even be just a *little* bit addicted to our work, but hey… that’s a convo for another time.)
So does this mean we never get to take time off? Heck no!
What it means is that we need to be PURPOSEFUL and PLAN for how we are going to take time off… unplugged, no checking in with clients or team kind of time.
It all starts with asking yourself one question:
“If I was to take this week off [INSERT DATE HERE], what could fall apart while I’m away?”
What is on my to-do list for the week? What are my ongoing tasks that need to be completed?
What could happen with clients? With team? With projects?
What could stall? Or fall apart?
Take a few minutes and make a list… go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.
Now let’s look at your list and run it through the following filters…
- Which of these things could I get done ahead of time?
- Which of these things could wait until I’m back?
- Which of these things could I ask someone else to take care of for me?
Mark each item on your list accordingly, and then it’s time to make some decisions.
- For those things that could be done ahead of time, set aside some extra time to do so (I get that this isn’t 100% ideal as it means working more before you take time off, but that can still be worth it to enjoy some for real unplugged time)
- For those things that could wait until you are back, go ahead and reschedule them (we often think things *need* to be done when in fact it could be OK to postpone them for a week or so)
- For those things that other folks can take care of in your absence, this is where we need to create solid, documented processes so that others can do the work while we are away (and that we work together to train and empower them to feel confident to take care of things during this time.)
This is exactly what we are doing in my business right now. Each of us on the team has chosen a week off this summer, and then each person is responsible to ask themselves this question and plan/prep accordingly (with a focus on updating/documenting our processes so that as a team we can take care of each others work.)
Whether it’s a stay-cation or a ‘travel again now that the world is opening up’ style vacation – my wish for you is to be able to fully unplug, rest and enjoy some time just for YOU. (Because we all need it!)
I’m curious – what are your plans for taking time off this summer? Pop a comment below and let me know…
I’m curious for your thoughts on this…
I got to thinking about something the other day while walking my dog. About how we represent ourselves in marketing, and are we doing a disservice by not being ‘real’ about things?
Ahhhh yes… summer. This is the last week of school for my girls so our summer ‘season’ officially starts this Friday.
There are 3 things I like to focus on during this time of year as I juggle family time and down time with the ongoing needs of the business.
1) Catch Up – this is a great time to year to catch up on all the little (and sometimes big!) things that have been hanging out on our to-do lists. I like to start with the oldest stuff on my list and work my way backwards…. I either get it done, or let it go. My goal is to start September with a clean slate so I am ready to rock the busy fall season.
2) Clean Up – every summer we choose one or two clean up projects. It could be updating an old website, or clearing out all of our old contacts out of Infusionsoft (which we just did this week and it feels SOOO nice!) Talk to your team about getting their help here – chances are they have a list of things that they want to tackle already!
3) Charge-Up – what are you doing to take care of YOU? To recharge your batteries this summer so you are able to dive into the fall busy season with a full tank? This could be as simple as a daily walk, or weekly dinner out with a friend. Or how about a legit ‘no work allowed’ vacation? Maybe even a ‘no kids allowed’ trip? (I’m going to Sedona in August WITHOUT my kids… can’t wait 😉
What is your favorite thing to do in the summer?