I can’t quite believe that the final month of 2013 is upon us – can you?
Well, it’s here, and while we’re all crazy-busy getting Christmas orders out the door (and dealing with Christmas in our personal lives, too), we also need to make sure we carve out a little time to plan for the year ahead.
This month on C&T we’ll be focussing on planning for 2014 – sharing ideas and tips on how we plan for a new year.
Today I’m talking whole-year planning – the big picture.
For the last few years I have been using a big whiteboard 12-month wall planner.
This wall calendar is the core of my planning. Everything goes on there, and it helps me see – at a glance – my entire year.
I use this Sasco one, which I get from Officeworks here in Australia (I believe they have them at Staples in the US, too).
I have this mounted on the wall next to my desk, and look at it every single day. I love being able to visually sweep over my whole year – it kinda helps to put time into perspective, and make you realise that you might not have as much time as you think you do…
It’s not the prettiest, but it’s efficient. AND because it’s whiteboard material, I can use lots of different colours for different categories of event (like holidays, launches, talks I have to give etc).
I like to use the ‘NOTES’ section to write a few big goals for the year so they’re always right there – I always write my income goal for the year there.
I usually sit down with my new year’s wall planner in December, and take the time to plan out the big events in the year to come.
What sort of events?
Here are 4 things I think every handmade business owner needs to think about and schedule in for the year ahead.
Are there any big national or local markets or shows that you really want to do next year?
If so, now’s the time to look up the dates for the shows AND the dates for registration, and put them on the calendar. That way, you don’t risk doing an application for a major market at 11pm the night it closes at midnight on your phone in a crowded, dark club while you sit watching a band play because you totally forgot about it, and only using crappy instagram photos in your submission because that’s all you have on your phone (yes, I’ve done this – no, I didn’t get in ;D).
If there are smaller more local markets that you know you want to do, and you know the dates, put them on the calendar now as well. Sure, you might not be able to apply for that December market until October, but you want to make sure you haven’t already double-booked yourself on that day, right?
National/International Sales Events
By this I mean things like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Christmas etc
Work out which events you want to market for, and plan your dates ahead of time.
Work out when customers will need to make their order by, and track back from that to see when you need to start talking about it.
If you’re predominately an online business like me, it’s probably disgustingly early (like a month beforehand) but with making and turnaround times, it’s just the way it is.
Decide when you want to launch new products, and write it on the calendar.
I know from personal experience that if I don’t schedule it in, it doesn’t happen (and sometimes, it doesn’t happen even when I DO schedule it in).
But, if you DON’T write it down it’s very likely that business and life will get in the way and you’ll reach the end of the year without launching a new line of products.
I usually aim for a Spring launch and an Autumn launch.
Honestly – this year, that didn’t happen for me. There are all sorts of reasons why – but I’m committed to making sure I get those launches done next year! So on the calendar they go.
Yep, this is where you take care of YOU.
Ideally, you should probably do this one first, and fit everything else in around it.
Everyone has different travel + break needs, so schedule in whatever works for you.
Me? I’ll be scheduling in 2-3 short breaks or sabbaticals next year (a week or two each – including a trip to Cambodia) plus scheduling in the month-long road trip Nick and I are planning to take up north (though this will be a working holiday, I need to make sure I don’t schedule in any other events during this time!).
This is a good start.
Once you’ve scheduled in your ‘rocks‘ for the year, you’ll be a bit more relaxed when it comes to saying yes or no to events and opportunities that come your way – because you’ll be confident that the important things are already scheduled in.