Your Next 90 Days
Why is this so important? It's very hard to make sure that you actually get a financial return on your investments. Discover 3 strategies to ensure that your next 90 days are a roaring success!
What You Will Learn In this Show:
- Why is the next 90 days so important?
- Three strategies
- Impact of not planning
Key Take Aways
Hello, hello, hello, make sure that you stop, turn on the sound so you can hear what is going on. Hi there, for those of you who don't know me, my name is Una Doyle, I'm a business development coach and founder of CreativeFlow.TV. What I do is I help creative business owners to be more profitable to achieve their vision and have time free doing a lot more fun, basically I help them to be happy, healthy, and wealthy and who doesn't want to be that?
Today's show however is all about your next 90 days. So I've also got a free resource that I'm going to tell you about as well, the link is in the description so make sure that you go check that out as well.
So here we go. Your next 90 days. Why is this so important? This actually all comes down to planning. Yes I said it the P word. I know that for a lot of us creatives, planning does not come naturally. Dreaming, yeah, coming up with ideas, boom boom boom boom, they happen all the time don't they? But planning is actually what often helps you get results.
So if you're not getting the results that you want, not planning at all or enough might be the reason why. But why does this even happen? Well here's a few reasons that I've experienced personally and that I've also been able to help my clients with.
So first of all, is that planning forces you to be specific, and for us as creators we often like to think of the big picture but can find it a bit challenging to get down into the detail of things. So that's one reason why creatives are often a bit reluctant to plan.
Another reason is that we often have an idea and we see something and we could just rush in to start it because we tend to be great at starting things, not always so good at finishing them.
And another reason is that often creators have got very high expectations of themselves so it's actually quite easy for perfectionism or procrastination to set in. So we might have an idea but not be doing anything about it, that's the kind of flip side of the coin. And part of this could be because in our minds the idea is perfect but how do we actually get to make that happen in reality.
And another reason why creatives often don't plan is that they're literally moving too fast. So we have the idea we rush in, we're going we have more ideas and it just seems well how can I plan if I'm moving so fast. Because things change so much. How do you handle that and I will be explaining that towards the end of this training presentation.
So now that we've talked about why this happens, let's look what are some of the impact of not planning. And one of the things is that if you don't plan or plan enough, it means you have a lack of clarity. And that has a knock on effect because if you have a lack of clarity then it's very hard to know where you ought to be spending your time. And time is a resource that you want to spend and make sure you get a return on your investment but if you don't have that clarity about what to be doing and when it ought to be done. Whether that's for you or members of your team. Then it's very hard to make sure that you actually get a financial return on investment as well. So a lack of planning often results in lower revenues and lower earnings.
One of the other things that can happen is that people can feel overwhelmed because they feel like oh my god, I've got all these different things to do and I don't know what to do about that and can be a bit all over the place, oh I'm working on this, oh I'll work on this, oh actually I need to do this bit over here. Oh I'll do this over here and maybe you've been like this or people who've been like this so if that's the case, please click the share button or tag them in the comments and get them on to this so that they can benefit from this too.
So another impact of not planning well enough is that there's no evaluation of the ideas that you have. I don't care how much of a genius you are, a hundred percent of your ideas are not going to be brilliant. I am the same, I have loads of ideas, and they’re popping up all the time. And the great thing is that when you have a way of working with those and kind of figuring out, well actually which ones are the real priorities, see this is the thing, if you don't have clarity, if you don't take the time to evaluate and to plan, then you could end up really wasting your time and putting loads of energy and resources into something that isn't really moving you towards your vision, or that isn't getting you the results that you want. And maybe you could've done it easier, maybe you could've done it faster, if you'd actually taken the time to do some planning in the beginning.
And there's one final one and actually this came up so I do some group coaching and in a group coaching call today this came up that one of the members felt unmotivated because they didn't have a clear plan on what they were going to be doing. So if you're feeling any of those things or you're experiencing any of those pangs, then these next three strategies are going to really help you.
Now before I get into those, what I do want to do is explain why am I talking about the next 90 days? Because I'm sure a lot of the planning that you've heard about is talking about a year, or maybe three years, or five years. And the thing is that kind of planning, sometimes it comes easy to us creatives because it's like oh I have a big vision and it's going to take several years for this to happen, sometimes it's just like too far off in the future, I can't even go there. So you might be one of those.
One of the things is, is when you just look at 90 day cycles, it means that you are getting specific enough, it means that you were breaking things down and chunking them down into ideas or parts of ideas that are specific enough that you can actually implement them in that time and everything that I'm talking about here must be able to be implemented and finished in 90 days.
Now another reason why this is really important is because when a goal is over a year or something then it's really easy for it to feel, oh it's way off here and I know for a lot of us creatives we work better when we have closer deadlines or is it just me? I don't think so. Not from the clients I work with I know I'm not alone in this.
So one of the great things about working in a 90 day cycle is that you have got close in deadlines and you can see it, it's kind of takes it from being this thing that you've painted in your mind into, well this part of it I can make real in the next 90 days. So I think that's really important and why I'm talking about your next 90 days and not kind of big business plan at this stage.
Now obviously as you grow as a business and you're bringing other people on, of course you need to have longer term plans but I would say you still want to be only really getting into detail in the next 90 days but you will know what you're planning for a year ahead, a few years ahead. But if you're, particularly if you're a freelancer or a solo business person just planning 90 days at a time, what you're working towards, that is absolutely enough, and this is great because it keeps the paperwork down and it keeps the planning manageable. So it doesn't feel like this Herculean task that you have to accomplish. You can accomplish you can do it quite quickly. There's no reason why you can't do what I'm talking about in half a day, maybe a day tops, but maybe if it's your first time and there's lots of things you need to go through, remember the first time you do anything it always takes longer than you think.
Let's look at the three strategies. And by the way, please pop your questions into the comments and if I don't get to them in this Live I will come back to later and answer them for you. If you go back and look at some of the other Lives I've done you see that we get some great discussions going in the comments and that as well can be highly educational and informative for you.
Strategy number one, get clarity. Get clarity. Now what I mean by that, what I want you to do, is I basically want you to do a brain dump. I want you to look at all your existing commitments. Now some of those might be personal. I guess a lot of them will be business around your creative endeavours.
I want you to get them all together in the one place, in writing, and it being in writing is really important because it's very easy to fudge on things when they're in our minds but when you see them in black and white, it changes things seriously, try it, it really does. So get them down in black and white and whether you use a big white board or post-it notes on flip charts or just type them into a document as bullet list, whatever works for you doesn't matter, but get them down in black and white.
The next thing I want you to do is to evaluate the different things that you are working on and the ideas that you have for the future. Now what criteria are you using to evaluate those? Well I could do a whole livestream on that just in itself but just very quickly I want you to be thinking about how this is moving me towards my vision. And also, what's doable with the resources that I have now, and then also think about the order that things need to come in so maybe you have this great big idea but in order for that to happen, actually you need A, B, and C to happen first.
So these are the things I want you to be thinking of when you are evaluating the different commitments and ideas. Now what that means is, you may look at some of the things that you're doing now and go actually, I don't know if I want to carry on doing this. You know and that's okay. It might be the case that you are, you decide actually this commitment is not kind of bringing me to where I want to be. So I'm going to change that. And it might be the case that you, you look at some of the ideas you have and you think, I'm just not ready for that yet. And that's fine. It doesn't mean that you're not ever going to do this.
And this is really important because I get this a lot from people that I work with. They go, oh I don't want to focus on just one or two or three things, and I want to be doing all the things. All the ideas, hashtag all the ideas. But you know it's not, it doesn't work. You can't do that, you have to prioritise. So it's really important, really, to be able to just evaluate and what is most important right now? That is the thing, what is most important right now, that is what you want to be really looking at.
The second strategy, second step is, I want you to pick three. I want you to pick three projects and three processes. Now what do I mean by that, just in case you don't know the difference, I'm going to very quickly explain. A project is like it starts here and it ends here, it achieves a specific result. A process is something that is ongoing right, now one way to think about this that tends to make sense to most people is if you are, say you started a newsletter.
So creating what that newsletter would be is a project, you've got to decide are you going to name it, is it going to have a specific template, what kind of content are you going to put in it, maybe it's part of that you do an editorial calendar, things like that, and you create the first one.
So that is a project but then when that newsletter goes out all the work you do to make that happen, every week or every month depending on how frequent it is and you have decided that in the project, then that's the process.
So project, process. I want you to pick three projects and three processes. Now you might be thinking, oh I don't really have any processes in my business, in which case this is even more important for you. Because the thing is that a business needs to be made up of projects and processes and when you are ready, promotions. Now for those of you are, actually I'll go back and edit the description I just realised. I could sort of maybe pop this in the link for me. If you go to creativeflow.tv/services you'll see that I've got four levels of business there. So we have the dreamer and we have the worker, the builder and the leader.
And so basically the dreamer is in either thinking about it or kind of start-up stage but isn't actually earning a full time living from this yet even if they are doing it full time. The worker is earning a full time living but often is very much on a hamster wheel, the builder is ready to scale. Now if you're at that builder level, then that you probably are in a situation where you want to be doing a promotion every quarter. If there is more than one of you and you're growing your team, you could run more than one promotion or if you're quite experienced at it maybe you do it more frequently than every quarter. But to start off with just do one. And so that means some kind of campaign or promotion that is above and beyond your bread and butter business.
So this is, I want to be careful that I don't kind of confuse people and overwhelm them too much information but go and check out that page and see where do you sit and so if you're not yet at the builder level or not ready to move there, don't be trying to do a promotion just yet. Just stick to the projects and processes that are going to help you achieve your objectives.
Now so yeah, one of the things, one of the reasons why doing both projects and processes is really important is that a lot of creative businesses particularly when they're freelancing or they're starting out they have a habit of lurching from one project to the next, if they're lucky, they lurch from one to the next, sometimes they kind of do a project and then they're kind of like, tweedle dum, tweedle dee, where's my next project coming from, because I've been so busy doing that project and this why processes are really important because a process might be around your clients delivery, a process might be around your lead generation and kind of sales stuff, there's all sorts of processes that you might have in place but you definitely want to have something that is about making sure you have a sustainable business. So thinking about that when you are evaluating your different commitments and ideas alright?
The third strategy then is you then need to add the projects and processes and promotion if you're at that level into a specific time and place to make it real, so what I would suggest is first of all, is to put these into some kind of task or project management system. My personal favourite is Trello, I've tried quite a few different systems, I've tried Base Cap, I've tried De Pulse, and oh gosh a few other ones. But for me Trello is the one that I've actually gone back to and that I'm sticking with and I tend to recommend for my clients. There's a few reasons for that, one it's colourful. So I kind of, with a sea of information, I kind of go a bit, the other reason that I like it, is that it's easy to drag and drop it, it's easy to learn and when you get used to using it and I teach my clients how to do this, then you can use it very clever ways to make it easy to see, what do I need to be doing today without having to constantly redo things and change dates all the time. That's one of the things that frustrated me with some of the systems.
So yeah, whether it's Trello or some other system that you already use and you're happy with you need to make sure that you scope out the projects and processes and promotions that you are doing before you do this, and the way you scope them, you need to just write, it could just literally be a one page, two page max of why are you doing this project, what are the specific objectives, who needs to be involved, so this is at the very least you and your clients but maybe there's other people that you can bring in, even if it's just for a bit of advice and check over this plan for me or what do you think I should use with this, one of the key milestones, these are the things you're going to be actually working to and then this is the one that often gets left out by us creatives is what are the measures, this is where you would put the financial aspects of it as well.
Keep it simple but structured and you can scope those projects out, now occasionally when you scope something out you might go hmm, actually this is a bit bigger than I thought and if that is the case you need to break it down into smaller projects or smaller processes. And that's perfectly okay don't feel like bad about it or anything, just do that, because I think one of the biggest mistakes that creatives make is biting off more than they can chew. I've done it, I'm constantly learning that lesson and getting better at it but it's just something we naturally often do because we tend to think so big.
So scoping the projects will help make sure you don't do that so once they're scoped you can then add them into your task and activity project management system whatever it is you use and then what you need to do is make sure that you structure a time and a place to review these projects and processes and this is important because otherwise it's really easy for other stuff to come up and to kind of forget about what this plan was, you see I want you to think about this 90 day plan as a living moving thing. It's not just a piece of paper that you do words and you kind of forget about and put it in a drawer or on a shelf, that's not really what planning is about.
Yes stuff may come up, you might need to adjust it a little bit but, it's really about making sure that you're kind of, you have the focus that you need, you have the clarity that you need, that you're waking up every morning knowing, this is what is most important for me to achieve today. So make sure that you're pulling in weekly and monthly reviews on these and whether you do that just with yourself or maybe you work with a coach or some kind of accountability to do this, that's up to you. It can be helpful to work with another person because then you also have the benefit of their insights as well.
So what we've really been talking about is yes, sometimes us creatives aren't that great at planning in enough detail and the impact on that can be causing a lack of clarity, wasting time, time just disappearing, not earning enough money, overwhelm, losing motivation, so obviously we don't want that. You just need to follow the three strategies. Get clarity, do your brain dump. Number two you're going to pick three, pick three projects, pick three processes and if you're at the right level, then also make sure you're picking a promotion as well. Because that will help you scale up. And then make sure that you're adding these things, you're creating the structures to make them happen by making sure that they're going into some kind of activity or task management system and that you schedule reviews into your calendar as well.
I just want to talk to you as well about the free resource that I mentioned at the beginning which is very relevant for what we've been talking about here today, so the free resource is 21 tools to increase sales in your creative business. And some of these are specifically will be helpful for you if implementing the strategies that we've been talking about here today. So go to this link, click the link in the description, whatever works for you and download this.
And it's the kind of thing that yeah, there might be a few tools in there that you already know or you've heard of but it's not just a list. This is actually a guide, so I'm explaining why and when you would use certain things and I'm pretty sure they will be helpful in whatever projects and processes that you choose to go forward with.
Alright I just wanted to share with you as well, there was a couple of quotes that I thought are really relevant for this. So number one it's, I love this one, I've shared this one before, it's a mistake to look too far ahead, only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. And that's by Winston Churchill. And so that's really what we're talking about in terms of chunking things down. And I love this one, Eleanor Roosevelt, she's got some amazing quotes doesn't she?
It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan. Just think about that. If you're thinking to yourself, I don't have time to plan, I'm too busy, that is a real sign that you need to be planning so instead of wishing and dreaming for what you want, if you're not getting the results that you want or if you want to improve the results that you want, then please put these steps into action.
So yeah, so anyway, this guide can really help you to do that, it's free, it's not going to cost you a penny, and it's going to help you to identify what your clients really want, even if you think you already know, it's going to help you to make sure that you don't miss out on sales because there's one mistake that creatives often make and I used to this myself to and it will help you not to do that and yeah it just basically help you to implement ways of attracting clients and getting paid and all of those kinds of things.
And the resources of some organisational and project management type of stuff in there as well. That will be really helpful for you, so stop wasting time doing loads of research, I've kind of done that for you and I've experienced these things myself for the most part. And a lot of the tools are free as well.
So don't be worried that like oh god, I'm going to download this and then I'm going to have to go buy lots of things. In fact most of the tools are free or are pretty essential. So just, let me just check, for any questions. So yeah we've got to watch out for new shiny objects syndrome, yes absolutely I'm talking about that a lot usually.
Oh yes, another quote, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, that's a well-known one that. Let me see, preparation is the breakfast of champions, granted I'm an introvert and somewhat detail orientated so perhaps it's good, it's more natural to me than many creatives. Yeah absolutely, and some of you might be a bit more introverted and detailed focused but even so if you've been doing big yearlong plans, shift that look to doing 90 day cycles in the way that I've talked about and I think you'll find it much easier to do that.
So yeah there was, I know there was one or two questions that I often get so one of them is well, I do plan and then things change, well yes that does happen. You just need to adjust your course, think of it as being like a pilot. The most of the time a pilot, whether it's an automatic pilot or a real pilot, a human pilot, in an aero plane, they set a course but they actually spend 80, 90 percent of the time adjusting that course so that is what you need to be doing.
Now I don't mean heading off in a completely new direction, that's not the same thing. What I'm talking about is a little nudge here, a little nudge there. So that's really what it's about. Now this is a doozy right? What if I have a better idea? I want to do, oh I put all this plan together but now I've had this even better idea. Stop.
If you have started implementing your 90 day plan, then maybe it can wait. Maybe it is shiny new object syndrome, that's been mentioned in the comments. Or maybe you're just getting bored implementing. Think of Hitchcock, I don't know if you knew this, but he's the film director, Hitchcock, it's said that he would get really bored making a film because he'd actually planned it in so much detail in his mind that doing it became very boring and I think a lot of us creatives can feel that and quite often when I start working with my clients they will come to me after a few months and go oh, I don't feel motivated anymore and this just feels really hard.
And I'm like, yeah because you've never implemented things fully before. And now you are and the great news is that as you grow your business you can outsource or delegate a lot of the stuff that you find hard or boring but you got to get to that position first. And doing a 90 day planning cycle will help you to do that.
Listen, I've got to run, I've got another appointment now but what I want to do is please put your comments and your questions, share your experiences in the comments, I'd love to hear from you, please make sure, let me put this the right way round, make sure that you download your free guide as well. And yeah, let's stay in touch. So same time every week, Wednesday, 4:30 GMT, 4:30 pm, GMT, I'm here in the UK, and 11:30 am, EST, so come join me live, make sure you click the get notifications button and please if you found today's show valuable, please, please, please, share this out with your contacts. I want to help as many creators as I can and look I've put the time into doing this, why not have it reach more people, so please share it out and remember to grab your freebie as well. I'm Una Doyle, founder of CreativeFlow.tv, business coach for creatives and remember the fortune is in the flow. Until next week bye.
About the Author
Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.