Like every other business owner I know, Tracey Warren of InSpark Coworking has exhilarating moments intermingled with times of anguish.
Ironically, as the Chief Connection Officer/Chief Sparkler for the InSpark Community, Tracey’s got no space she can call her own. You know…to get deep work done. She needs to be visible and available within InSpark’s suites to give tours, lead workshops and support existing members. And, she needs alone time so she can hear herself think, process each day’s events, plan and prioritize. When she settles in to complete “desk work,” she’s confronted with the thought, “Where in the world do I start today?!”
How do any of us reconcile opposing business-critical forces? Working extra hard does not guarantee progress. Lack of progress is frustrating.
Nothing says, “I need a written, for real Strategic Plan!” like a few straight months of trudging from one project to another without completing the ones you KNOW will make the biggest business impacts. You can’t control all the forces exerting pressure on you, but you can focus the time you have.
A user-friendly plan has just a few essential components.
- Write it down. Keep it in your line of sight—either as one document or by breaking it into time-related projects you chunk out.
- Use your brand promise as a decision-making filter for what’s valuable to your customers, what’s important for your business to accomplish to keep its brand promise and which things you can let go.
- Identify big-picture goals, one or more approaches (strategies) for reaching each goal and measurable steps for getting from your starting place to the finish line. Think long-term: what do you need to do this year for your business to be in position to reach its two-year (or five-year) potential?
- Prioritize by assigning project due dates based on a reasonable timeline for achieving each goal. Tackle the projects that meet urgent business needs first.
- Track progress. Use a checklist or an online project management app—whatever is most relevant.
It will take months or longer to reach some goals, of course. But that’s okay because when you track progress on priorities you get to celebrate little and big wins along the way. Do your happy dance for completing step x and then move to the next.
Tracey created her plan, which included assigning herself a desk. We’ll check in with her in a few months and see if she feels consistently more productive (with more happy-dancing).
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