Taking an Entire Month to Create Products

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Do you ever have that disturbing feeling that trying to squeeze one more minute out of your day will render you senseless?

Like you, I struggle with finding time to write books, create new classes, and put together new information products and programs. I have a burning desire to create these things; I think about them and plan for them constantly. I guess it must be the “teacher” in me — I want to share what I’ve learned with other small business owners.

Each year our mastermind group meets in person for a live Mastermind Retreat Weekend. A few years ago, I came to the Retreat with just one burning question: How can I take a month off of work to write an updated version of a book and create a new class?

It seems an insurmountable dream and challenge. I hadn’t had a full month off work or school since I’d been in college (oh so many years ago!). A whole month off with only 2 projects to work on? Woohoo!

My mastermind group helped me to plan out a strategy for taking the month of August away from my business:

1. Figure out how much money you need to save so that you can cover your August business and personal expenses.

2. Figure out if you’d still work with existing clients, or ask them to halt work with you during August. I decided that I would work with existing clients, but not take on any new ones for August.

3. Figure out how to schedule your month off for maximum enjoyment and relaxation, and maximum productivity. After all, I was taking the month off to get 2 big projects finished. I decided to run my mastermind groups just a few days out of the month, and work on projects the rest of the time. I’d take Friday’s off work completely so that I’d have a month’s worth of 3-day weekends to relax (especially as I’d be working really, really hard during the other four days creating my class and book). I’d schedule time with family and friends during August for outings and visits, as well as some “me time” to walk in the woods or go to the beach and be in solitude.

4. Ask for support. I told my husband and my mastermind group I was going to take the month of August off; they loved the idea! I’ve also told my students and members that my hours would be limited in August, that I’d still be there to support them but that they might not get 24-hour turnaround to emails or phone calls. And then I told the world!

5. Stay present. This was a tough one for me, staying present and aware during the month of August. I paid attention to two things: how I used my time, and whether I was creating the balance between work and relaxation that I was seeking.

It was a great adventure and I’m looking forward to doing it again!

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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What Should Be In Your Annual Business Plan

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NOW is the time to work on your annual business plan, whether it’s January 1 or mid-June. You see, business changes rapidly, and what you decided six months ago might not be accurate anymore. Perhaps you’ve got a new product to launch, or a new competitor has arrived to shake up the field.

Many people quake in fear at the idea of writing a business plan. They imagine in their mind a 100-page document full of charts and financial figures. Ugh!

While it’s possible to create a business plan of that magnitude when trying to get capital for your business, a typical business plan for self-employed people should be less than 10 pages.

The purpose of a business plan, for a self-employed person who is financing his own business, is to have a central repository for all strategic thinking about the business for the coming year or two. Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for a while, writing a business plan will help you solidify your thoughts, goals, and strategies.

Here’s what should be included:

  1. Your business idea in three sentences.
  2. Your target audience.
  3. The challenges that your target audience faces.
  4. The benefits of using your products and services to meet those challenges.
  5. Your company brand and image.
  6. Your projected revenue and expenses for a year.
  7. If you project more expenses than revenue for the year, a statement about where the money will come from to pay for those expenses.
  8. A list of your major competitors, and how you are a different (and better!) choice for your customers.
  9. At least six marketing techniques you’re planning to use over the coming year, when you plan to implement them, and what results you expect from them.
  10. The preparation work you need to do in order to launch your marketing techniques and keep them up-to-date.
  11. Any major new products or services you’re launching in the next 12 months, and how these will help your business.
  12. A list of people who you will need to hire to implement your business plan or marketing plan (unless you have the business skills and time to do all the work yourself).

Review your business plan and update it annually. I recommend reviewing the marketing section of your business plan quarterly, so that you can gauge the success of your marketing campaigns.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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