So, you may have noticed on my podcast, I said, I’ll see you next week or till next week. And you’ve probably realised as well that it’s not next week. Originally I was going to record and plan a load of podcast episodes and blog posts to schedule them to go out every week. However, because they’re only like six or seven minutes long, I thought “You know what I might as well just put them out whenever I think of it”. So there’s gonna be no routine or strategy behind my podcast.
Strategy is one of the things that I wanted to chat about today. I’m all for a strategy for your business, but only if it adds value and doesn’t give you an excuse to procrastinate, which I’m very, very prone to! I sometimes feel held back when it comes to having a strategy. Take my podcast for example, it was just a passion project. I’m not necessarily looking to make this into some massive influencer-type podcast. Originally I was going to do one every week, but then I was thinking “Well, that means I have to plan it out. I need to know what I’m going to talk about” and, it just became this big thing I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage.
All I want to do is put some thoughts into a platform that I can listen back to that might be useful to other business owners too, because I understand not everyone wants to consume social media all the time. I know that I enjoy hearing a little bit more about behind-the-scenes from other businesses and listening to their business stories, which has led me to where my podcast is today.
There’s no denying that it’s great to have a strategy, it’s great to plan everything out – but if it becomes overwhelming or too big of a thing, and ends up being a drain on your time and passion, just scrap it. I know I’m going against all of the people who focus on strategy as their career, but if something is holding you back in your business, just get rid of it. It’s just not worth it.
Originally, my “strategy” was going to be to focus on creating YouTube videos, which I would turn into podcast episodes and subsequently blog posts too. The truth is, I found recording my podcast a lot more enjoyable (and a lot quicker), which allowed me to ensure content was being shared consistently and I wasn’t falling into my procrastination trap.
If there’s one thing you should know, it’s that I’m all about consistency. There are parts of my bookkeeping business that I’m very consistent with, and others not so much. Which is why I’m mindful of putting my energy into those tasks that fuel me and outsource those that don’t.
On that note, if you are struggling with your business plan or strategy, one of the things that I have found really useful is to “braindump”. Simply put, this is getting all of my ideas down onto a post-it note (a true stationery essential). Literally write down all of your thoughts on a separate post-it note is very important, there is a separate post-it note. Everything that you can think of, get it down and out of your mind! It might be “struggling with my finances”, “need to speak to a supplier”, “want to attend this networking event”, or “thinking about doing this in my business”. Whatever it is, all of the good, the bad and the ugly, get it written down on your post-it notes.
Once you’ve got everything “brain dumped”, you’ll want to get an A4 piece of paper (or as big as you can get) and start to order all of these ideas. You can use what’s called a business model canvas, to help you put everything in the right places for your business, such as; marketing, customers, suppliers, key stakeholders, team, finance, etc. Once you’ve ordered your post-it notes correctly, you’ll want to take a look at each business model category and begin to put them in priority order. Key things that I look at here include; “what do I need to do?” and “what do I need to delegate?”, because the truth is we can’t do it all in business.
As business owners, we take on so much responsibility and have what seems like a million tabs open in our heads. (I’m forever having ideas spark when I’m taking a shower or out walking the dog!) Usually, these ideas accumulate on my computer until I have a list of things to do that’s as long as my arm – it’s not healthy. Just imagine having all those tasks jumbled on an A4 piece of paper, you just wouldn’t know where to start. To combat this and makes sense of your “overwhelming tabs”, you need to put them into a format that works for you!
Using the “braindump” technique has worked wonders for me to not only prioritise my tasks but to help me build out a timeline for these tasks too. Whenever an idea got added to the list, I’d ask myself “How long do I think this task will take? Is it 15 mins, an hour or even a day?!” If you’re unable to an exact time on things, then I recommend overestimating so you can give yourself a buffer – it’s better to overestimate than under!
Now that you’ve got your timings down, you can begin to schedule tasks into your diary so that it becomes a workable plan (not just a list on your desk that is untouched, collecting dust). I use Google Calendar, however, there are a wide variety of platforms you can use such as; OneDrive, Trello, Monday, Asana, ClickUp and many more! Google Calendar is my go-to as I love using the colour-coded label feature, I’ve honestly got a label for everything. From the areas of my business life, personal life and all the way to the urgency of the task too. It may sound OTT (over the top), but adding labels to my prioritised and scheduled task list is how I best work – it’s “My Strategy”. I not only know what I should be focusing on day to day but can see any openings in my diary to lead team calls or just take a well-deserved coffee break!
I just want to add here though, that my organised diary doesn’t always go to plan.
Sometimes I get distracted by other commitments, such as clients needing work urgently – but that’s okay, it’s completely normal! Your perfectly planned and organised list may not always get completed in the way you envisioned, but it’s not the end of the world. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, because the tasks you may not have “ticked off” will get done at a later date.
Consider scheduling into your diary, what I like to call “Buffer Time” as a fallback to focus on any of the tasks you may not have been able to get around to earlier in the week. Usually my “Buffer Time” falls on a Friday morning before the kids get home from school and the weekend begins, as I like to be as present as I can over the weekends.
The more that you apply the “Braindump” and “Buffer Time” techniques into your routine, the more you can adapt them to suit your style of work. For example, maybe you’re more creative at the beginning of the week so focus on creating your marketing content, while the end of the week is better suited to your finance and business admin. As I say, it’s all about finding a strategy that works for you!
Hopefully, you’ve found this insight into my strategy and business plan useful. It’s pretty clear that my whole life is about breaking tasks down, prioritising them, scheduling them and repeating – it’s just the way I work best! I hope this has inspired you to explore and experiment with your business strategy too. If you have any questions or wish to share how you’ve found using the “Braindump” and “Buffer Time” techniques then feel free to drop me a message on socials.