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The Paper + Craft Pantry blog is home to our latest DIY projects, current inspiration sources, and small business advice. 

Filtering by Tag: Small Business

Small Business School: How To Plan for Your Next Year in Business

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Small Business School Blog: Planning for 2018.

Happy New Year, everyone! This is always an exciting time of year when the holidays are behind us, maybe we have a little bit more time to rest before the holidays are officially over, and we’re feeling hopeful about what will be different this year. While change is healthy, it can be detrimental in business if we either: 1) make too many changes all at once, or 2) make changes in the wrong areas.

To help us consider where we can have the most impact on our business it’s important to take a look back at the previous year to see what was already working well.

Making small improvements to those services that have performed well from the previous year, can yield some really great returns in the new year. Also, as you go through this exercise, it’s helpful to remember these two things:

 

  1. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In business speak, this translates to a general rule of thumb that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your services/clients/marketing efforts.

  2. It is 5x more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

With the Pareto Principle, it yet again reminds us that it’s better for us to focus on what we do best; we cannot be everything to everyone. So with that, it’s helpful to take a look at which one of our services is bringing in the most revenue, and that’s what we want to focus more of our energy on this next year.

Similarly, where are we finding most of our clients? We have to consider what marketing activity is most beneficial in that it is directly corresponding to bringing in clients. Whatever that activity is, we want to focus on more of that in 2018. Before we dive into 2018 planning, I find it crucial to spend time evaluating what worked in 2017. On that note, I’ve created a tool to help you do this 2017 Retrospective.

Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of doing this 2017 Retrospective, let’s first get into the right headspace to tackle this work. What you’ll need:

  • Set aside 2-3 hours on your calendar so that you can get through all of this in one sitting without distraction.

  • Pull a report from your online invoicing software so that you can see all of the transactions from this past year.

  • Create an inspiring atmosphere, whether that be to light a candle or turn on your diffuser––this work can be tedious, so set yourself up to have some fun while you’re at it.

  • Put on your favorite playlist.

  • Answer these questions first, and then let’s get to it.

Take a few minutes to reflect back on 2017, and answer these questions.

  • What are your top 5 business highlights from the past year?

  • Who were your top 5 favorite clients?

  • What marketing activities bring you the most joy?

  • What was the biggest surprise for you this year?

  • What do you want to be known for?

From there, it’s time to open up this Google Sheet and input all of the information for your business. Yes, this can be a monotonous task, but I promise you that the insights gleaned from this exercise are powerful! (NOTE: Check the tabs at the bottom for both exercises!)

Once you’ve had a chance to work through the 2017  Retrospective Tool and review what has been working well, hopefully, the path forward for 2018 becomes a little bit more clear.

At this stage it’s important to remember that you don’t yet have to know exactly how you’ll get there, as long as you’re clear on where you want to be going, the path will reveal itself along the way, as long as you’re committed to doing the work and staying open to the possibilities.

My Top 5 Tips for Planning for the Year Ahead

  1. Make note of any major plans, deadlines, or projects. Are you thinking about taking a summer vacation? Write that down so that you create the space to take that time off! Do you want to launch a new service or product? Think about how long it’s going to take you to create everything, add at least two weeks for ample cushion, and then work backwards to think about when you need to get started.

  2. Break up your year into quarters, and within each quarter, choose no more than three projects to work on. Right now when you’re staring at the great expanse of 2018, it can feel paralyzing. Charles Duhigg in The Power of Habit states, “Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.” One way we can engineer small wins into our working style is to break up our year into quarters, allowing for us to stay on track with smaller, shorter-term goals that ultimately help us get to where we want to go.

  3. Take time once a month to dig in even deeper. Things change quickly, so it’s helpful to build in time each month to review not only what you have achieved the previous month, but also how that might have affected your timeline and/or projects for the upcoming month. If you sold out of that one offering faster than you thought, what else would you like to share with your audience this month? If you had a new opportunity arise, how will you fit that in?

  4. Schedule in REST! This is one I’m working on practicing more in 2018! It’s vital that we take time for our minds and bodies to rest so that we don’t succumb to burnout, but it can be hard to slow down when we’re in the middle of a grind. Take a look at your year overall, and find a way to build in a natural ebb and flow to your workload. If you’re so inclined, take a look at the lunar cycles and sync up major projects, launch dates, and rest periods with the phases of the moon.

  5. Take the time to write down your wins as they happen. Remember how we started this process by celebrating our highlights from 2017 and trying to think back to how we first found our clients? It can be super helpful to keep track of those events as they happen, so that we don’t have to store all of that information in our memories and hope we recall it when we need it. Give yourself the freedom to release that info so that you can make space for everything else that demands your attention.

If you’re feeling like you need a little bit more support to get started on your business plan for this year, check out my 2018 Year Ahead Planning Bundle! It’s an affordable option to get you reflecting on 2017 before making intentional plans for the year ahead. And if you’d still like a little more help once you get started, you can always sign up for a 30-minute slot during my Virtual Office Hours––they’re always free!


Maggie Miller, with MaggieGentry Thought Partner, Austin TexasAbout the author:
Maggie owns MaggieGentry, where she provides thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. She hosts Own Your Why workshops, and is the Creative Marketing Strategist for The Paper + Craft Pantry. You may find her ‘gramming over at @maggiegentry_. Still want more? Check out Maggie's Strategy Sessions.

LATELY ON THE BLOG:

Small Business School: Vision Boards For Business

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Austin Small Business Blog: Vision Boards For Your Small Business

Some may call it their real life Pinterest board, or maybe even consider it a mood board of sorts. But the reality is that a vision board is so much more than that! 

A vision board allows you to dig a little deeper and discover what you truly want for your life, and business. It enables you to use visuals to tell the goals and dreams you have for your future. And we think it can be even more powerful than written goals. Because let's face it, we're all visual beings and having something that serves as a collective reminder is so, so powerful! 

When we were scheduling a community event for December, we knew we wanted to bring back our 3rd annual Vision Board Party, but this year, we're co-hosting this really fun event with Maggie of MaggieGentry. There's no better person to work on this event with because Maggie is a living, breathing supporter of The Paper + Craft Pantry and honestly, just an incredible fellow business owner. 

We asked our owner, Pei and Maggie some questions to get an insight on how they use their vision boards for their business. 

And if you're in Austin, be sure to RSVP below to our 2017 Vision Board Party next month! 

What’s the first thing you do when creating your vision board? What are some important things to consider?

Maggie:
For me, the most important first step is to ask two questions, "What is it that I specifically want this board to embody?" and "How do I ultimately want to feel?" For me, it's important to first gain clarity around what question I hope this vision board will help me answer, or what goal I hope this board will help me visualize, and then use the second question of understanding how I want to feel to help me find the perfect images when I'm flipping through the magazines.

I always like to spend some time journaling before I create a vision board to help me solidify an intention. It always helps to have your favorite music playing, too!

Other logistical tips: Have glue sticks and tape because you never know what you might need to fashion together. Lay it out first, take a picture for placement, and then go back to glue it down. I like to put some craft paper down on the table so that I can use my glue stick with abandon and not worry about messy clean-up afterwards!

Pei:
Creating a space to create your vision board is really key. I actually carve out designated time for this, limit distrations and try to clear my mind of all the daily to-dos and other miscellaneous thoughts so I can pour what I truly want into my vision board.

I take a few moments to take some deep breaths and visualize my business in the future, without any limitations, without any expectations... It's so important to visualize your future without anything or anyone interferring what you truly want for yourself and your business!

While that vision is still fresh in my mind, I flip through magazines and articles and snip out images or words that are in line with my vision.

Vision board and goals - same thing?

Pei: Yes and no! I think they are intertwined for sure, and there's obviously a lot of overlapping. I create my vision board separate from my goals, typically after I've set some goals. They do serve as a visual reminder but have a little bit more of an abstract feel which lends to more ebbing and flowing than structured goals!

Maggie: I think they complement each other really well. Goals are helpful to speak out loud or write down somewhere, but what we often do is write them in a notebook, and then forget about them. The beauty of a vision board is that it's visual! And it's meant to be displayed where we can see it often. Vision boards can often help us express a certain aspect of our goals that we can't quite put into words just yet, or maybe we're too scared to voice it out loud, or maybe we weren't quite even sure we wanted that until we see how the vision board came together, and that one element has prominent placement. It is a tool that can help us reflect on if our goals are on the right track, and also to remind us on a daily basis to keep moving forward, especially on those tough days.

How do you use your vision board day to day?

Maggie: It's hanging on the wall right above my desk, so I see it everyday! I like to look at it right before I sit down for a morning meditation, and it's a helpful respite if I'm feeling like I'm drowning in work——I can sit back in my chair and remind myself why I'm doing this.

Pei: Having it front and center in my work space is a great reminder. It's something I have to look at daily and it's a wonderful check-in as to how I want my day to go, and what I can be doing (even little things) that's going to get me towards the things on my vision board.

For your business?

Maggie: It's a bit one in the same for me. The particular vision board that I have right now above my desk, I created with the question, "What do I want for my business in 2018?" So it is a nice reminder to keep me going on those days when I feel like I'm losing all hope and direction.

Pei: It's so easy to feel overwhelmed with owning a small business. There are some days when things feel so great, and other days when I'm still wondering what on earth I am doing. I love having my vision board to look at, take a breath or two, and pull me back in to why I do what I do.

How does a vision board help you with your business?

Pei: A specific example would be a potential partnership or collaboration, I'm naturally inclined to say yes to everything. But an easy way for me to be sure these opportunites are in line with my business's core values is to take a little peek at my vision board and see if this particular relationship or project "feels" like it fits in it.

Maggie: As a small business owner, I feel like we have face our fears often. Since I created this vision board to help me visualize growth for my business, looking at my board helps me gain the confidence I need when things feel scary or when I'm nervous to make a decision about something. It helps me stay aligned with My Why.

Where do you keep your vision board? How often do you create a vision board?

Pei: I keep my vision board on a bulletin board right across from my desk. And I re-do/re-create my vision board at least twice a year, around the same time I revisit my goals!

Maggie: Mine is hanging eye-level on the wall in front of my desk at home. I look at it all the time! So far, I've been creating one vision board a year to help me plan for what's ahead in the upcoming year.

Want to join us for our upcoming community 2017 Vision Board Party? 

papercraftpantry-austin-community-visionboard-goalsetting.jpg

DEC 13

 

6PM - 7 PM

Join us for an evening of inspiration and fun!