We’ve been talking about getting clear on your why and writing a business plan over the last couple of weeks. But what if your head is so full of swirling ideas that you can’t see the forest for the trees and simply can’t focus on the big picture questions that I asked of you in preparing your business plan? The best course of action in that case is to do what we call a “brain dump” and to turn it into an Action Plan.
A lot of people will tell you to grab a big piece of butchers paper or even your journal and just write down all the ideas as they come to you, until your head feels literally empty and you can’t think of anything more to add. Then they will tell you to start ticking things off your list. This can be really tempting, but it’s not very strategic.
I have a better approach. An approach that will help you crystallise your thinking towards the big picture and get you closer to a Business Plan. Lets create an Action Plan instead.
- Grab some Post-It Notes and start writing your ideas, the thoughts in your brain, one by one, one on separate Post-It Note. Stick them down anywhere you please.
- Spread out your Post It Notes over a flat surface. This can be a large table, a wall or your floor.
- Group similar things together. For example you might have a bunch of things that relate to Social Media and another bunch of things that are all about Sales. Write out Post It Notes for the headings.
- Order your Post It Notes in order in which they must be done, if there is one, under each heading.
- Transfer the ideas/tasks from your Post It Notes to a single piece of paper, a journal or a document on your laptop/PC, using the group titles as headings.
- Order the headings in the order in which they must be done, if there is one.
- Add dates by which each task should be done. Make them achievable.
- Look over your Plan and see if there are any obvious gaps, for example, if you have an idea to run a workshop, make sure you have tasks that include creating content for the workshop and advertising it, as well as setting up the space and getting together any materials you need for it.
And that’s it! You’ve now created an Action Plan. Doesn’t that feel better? It’s all now out of your head and on paper, or a computer screen, in writing, in front of you. Does it make your ideas feel more real, more achievable?
Now you have a choice, you can go ahead and start implementing your Action Plan. Decide in which order you’re going to do things, are there some quick and easy things you can do right now that will make you feel like you have actually achieved something? Or you may decide that you are now ready to do some deep thinking and start working on those Business Plan questions. Why am doing this? Who is it for? What am I actually delivering/producing? How will I finance it? How will I market it?
Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to start doing things before decide on answers to those big questions, especially when you’re delivering services that don’t require a big financial investment. You can offer services on a trial basis, see what works, which clients are attracted to you and whether you even like it. That’s definitely what I did and I continue to adapt and adjust what I do, depending on what the market needs.
Neither your Business Plan, nor your Business Model need to be set in stone, as long as you keep meeting the changing needs of your clients and following your own interests.
So go ahead, give it a try and create an Action Plan today.