Ask the Makers – Planning the Year
This month we’re asking the makers about how they planned out 2014.
Some of us have walls filled up with yellow sticky notes. Others prefer the biggest calendars we can buy. Whatever the method, today we’re sharing how each of us planned out 2014 for our businesses. No one way is the right way and that’s what I loved best about reading the answers from the makers.
I talked about this very thing in this post at the end of last year. I use both a whole-year wall planner and a monthly desk planner. In the past I’ve combined my wall planner with a week-to-a-page diary, but I’m finding the monthly desk planner even better because it limits what I can schedule for each day (because really, there’s only so much we can get done in one day) and it allows me to see what I’ve done every day during the month at a glance. You can see my studio (including my wall calendar and desk planner) in this post, too.
One of my favorite topics! I use an annual planner, but I only schedule in three-month blocks. I find 3 months to be a timeframe that I can plan ahead for, yet it doesn’t overwhelm.
I’m an absolute geek for review and resolution-setting. I dedicate a 7-day series to it on my blog every year! I typically find a word that fits my goals for the New Year, but this year I had to choose a phrase: Trim the fat. It’s a phrase that feels true for all five pillars of a healthy wellbeing: physical, relational, mental, financial and spiritual. I intend to cut out the fatty time-wasters and valueless junk, and do more of what matters!
Wishing you all the best for 2014!
Well, it starts in the late summer when I think about my goals. From my goals I start to formulate a series of projects/activities that will hep with the goals and by December/January I’m in the nitty gritty of yearly planning. I like to do JIT (Just In Time) planning. Basically that means not planning in too much detail far out into the future. I create a set of milestones for the year so I have a kind of roadmap or blue print. Then I do a slightly more detailed plan for the fist month of the year (January) and then I use this mid-level plan each week of the month in detail. I do this last bit of detailed on Fridays before I shut down and enjoy the weekend; that way I’m ready to go on Monday. I use paper for yearly and monthly planning, then I go digital for weekly planning, with my Entourage synched to my iPhone.
I usually look at the calendar at the beginning of the year and pencil in the important holidays like Mother’s day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas etc. It’s good to check the date of Easter first as it moves every year and I need to make sure my shop is stocked in advance. I chose the holidays I want to cater for this year (I am giving the Valentine’s day a miss but will make sure Mother’s day and Easter are covered). Thus, I schedule the launches so I can easily see in my calendar when I should have the items in stock and work backwards scheduling the first preview, the newsletter special before the collection is in store etc. Planning all this out keeps me on track and helps me not to get overwhelmed with the ideas. It’s also a good idea to focus on the schedule when the sales are slow, during the first few months of the year, when it’s easy to get panicky and start thinking short turn when it’s better to focus on the future.
To motivate myself, I make a list of all the items from last year I would like to make, choose the new colours that I would like to try this year and make up an inspiration board. I don’t exactly follow the colours/patterns that are in trend in the new year as my creations are not wearables. However, I keep them in mind as my toys are used for decorating nurseries so I if I see a new fabric pattern/colour that I like and it fits into the trends (like chevron pattern last year) then I add it to the range.
I don’t usually choose the word for the year but if I were to pick one, I would go with Prioritise. As we are expecting a new addition to our family, focus on what’s important is vital for me this year. Tidy up all the unfinished projects and make stock for the store in advance, while having more down time and making necessary changing to the way we live, is what I am going for.
This year I was determined to change my system and create a more efficient planning method so that I wasn’t constantly flying by the seat of my pants. I printed out monthly calendar pages for 2014 and plotted out major holidays, vacations, and cut-off dates. Then I looked over which months had been slower in 2013 and scheduled those times to be big creation months. That helped me see when I would launch the items I’d created during those periods. I’m not the sort that can go full-steam all year long so having a month to push it hard and then a month to take it easier is going to be a lot nicer this year. I also bought a huge white board and started to break down all the steps for my big launches. This year, I’m making sure I give myself at least a month to market a new line or product. I want to make sure it has enough oomph behind it when it makes its debut.
This year I also picked one big focal point for all of my efforts. This will ensure that all the guest posts I do, all the products I launch, and all of my marketing efforts lead me in one main direction. For 2014, it’s wholesale. So I’m researching trade shows for the start of 2015, streamlining my line, looking at how to cut costs and improve packaging, and reaching out to all the shops I want to carry my line. I feel more focused than ever and this way I can easily see just how far I come over the next 12 months.