It’s a funny old world, running a business isn’t it? Some days you can’t wait to jump out of bed and get cracking with the day, other day’s you can’t muster the energy to lift your head off the pillow.
Lately, I’ve been falling victim to the latter. Over the last couple of months I’ve found myself drifting and when I drift with no real direction, I always seem to end up further away from my end goal. Which is why I decided to take a step back from the business and work out where this resistance was coming from.
I decided to take a CEO day.
Have you ever felt like you’re running around putting out fires, constantly chasing your tail, replying to emails and social notifications, before realising you’ve not actually produced any tangible work to drive your business forward?
You need a CEO day.
Are you struggling to work out what your bigger picture vision is? Like, understanding why you’re actually running your own business and where you want it to lead?
You need a CEO day.
To take you away from the pull of every day and allowing the head space to work out what’s going right, where improvements could come in, and have the freedom to dream about the future.
Before we delve into the meaty stuff of how to take a business planning day, I wanted to take a moment to say, whether you run an online shop, a bricks and mortar store, a service-based business, or even a blog, if you make money or plan to, then taking a CEO day is an absolute necessary. And don’t get hung up on the term CEO. I’m not telling you to get new business cards printed. But you do need to step up to the plate and see what’s working and what isn’t to be able flourish in a unpredictable climate.
A change of scenery is essential to having a successful business planning day. You see, when you’re surrounded by familiarity, you let habits sneak in that stop you from giving your full attention to the task in hand. Whether it be a new café you’ve never worked in before, a co-working space, booking a night away in an Airbnb like I did, or even just changing your desk position for the day if you can’t leave the house, the key is to not be sitting in the same position you are, day in day out. Take your laptop into your bedroom if you have to today and set up camp there.
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
Let’s start with the positives. Taking a look back over the last year in your business or blog, what would you say has gone right for you? Make a list of your achievements and things you are proud of, from signing every new client, to paying your bills, to reaching a certain milestone on social media, perhaps even winning an award. For me, the last year in business saw me not only pivot my focus but end up creating a whole new business around manifestation, motivation and mindset coaching. The community I built around that was one of the biggest achievements of the last twelve months, and harnessing the power of a successful Facebook group reminded me where my focus needs to be.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Were there things that you’ve struggled with, things you’ve tried and perhaps learnt a lesson or two from? Take a look back over the last twelve months and see what stands out to you. For me, there were quite a few things I’d change moving forward. I definitely wasn’t as organised as I’d like to have been, and on occasions I ran over deadlines because I underestimated the time it would take to complete certain tasks (editing photographs, I’m looking at you). I also fell completely out of love with Instagram and let my perfectionist ways take over. But by sitting and making a list of all the things I wasn’t happy with, I was able, during my CEO day, to see where changes needed to be made, and also where no f*cks needed to be given.
WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?
Are there things that you know are holding you back from growing to your full potential? I know there certainly are with me. I know that if I was more confident in front of the camera, I could grow my audience through Instagram Stories and let people see the real me. I know that imposter syndrome stops me from creating things because someone else might have done something similar and I automatically assume people will judge mine as second rate. My time management is a big reason for not getting everything done in the day that I’d like. Lack of direction was a huge sticking point for me during 2019, as was the feeling of not wanting to charge what my services should have been priced at. I want you to make your list on a separate piece of paper and once you’ve finished, read every single one out loud and say after each, “This is no longer serving me and I release this feeling”. Tear the piece of paper up and sit for a moment. Those feelings won’t change overnight, but you have taken the first step to becoming the person you want to be by noticing these feelings and taking control.
SCRIPT THE PERFECT WORKDAY
Ah, now to one of my favourite things to do. Scripting. The fourth part of your CEO day is to sit and describe your perfect day. Work out what you want to do more of. Take pen to paper and describe exactly how you want your day to pan out, picturing in detail everything from the time you wake up to how many sales you’ll hit, or how many page views you’ll get, through to the work you’ll carry out throughout out the day. For me, I knew I wanted variety and with running two full-on businesses, that certainly wasn’t hard to imagine. However, I knew I also wanted calmness. Processes in place. I wanted to write in the morning and be creative in the afternoon. I scripted about speaking to dream clients as I coach them, as well as working on my interior design blog and digital magazine I run. And as I read it back, the beauty was I knew it was all possible, it would just take a little organisation and free time to batch create. Oh hello 3-week lock down, I think I might have manifested you.
A key part of your business planning day is spending time getting organised. Some of the ways I did this was the clean up my desktop, sort photographs out and transfer onto an external hard drive, plan out my editorial calendar for the next quarter, put any diary notes in my Google calendar, update my financial spreadsheet with income, expenditures, and looking at patterns that have occurred over the last 2-3 years of being in business. Another good tip to get organised it to create a Word document of all your email responses you need to use on a weekly basis. From my coaching on-boarding process, to my interior design package welcome, I have a Word document with every single response I need, to save time on replying to people in my inbox without typing everything from scratch each time.
TRACK & UPDATE
Following on from organising your business, if you don’t track your stats in any way, then now really is the time to start. I keep an Excel spread to keep a note of the following:
Page views on blog
Unique monthly visitors
Time visitors spent on blog
Traffic from SEO
Traffic from social channels
DA and PA score
I record these analytics every month and examine what area is experiencing growth, what maybe isn’t working so well, where my focus needs to be. Here you can really see what platforms are working well for and what you should pay attention to. For example, Instagram drives only 2% of overall traffic to my blog, while Pinterest drives a staggering 53%. You’d think my Instagram might need some attention, but in fact, because I know Pinterest is working so well, I know to increase my focus on this and maximise what is already driving that audience over.
DROP, DELEGATE OR SCHEDULE
OK, this is the part where you really need to step up as a business owner. Taking a look overall at your business, what can you drop, delegate or schedule so it’s not part of your daily tasks? When I started to look at my business, I knew that scheduling social media content, for example, would take off a huge load from my day to day running of the business. I looked at my diary and I decided to use Friday’s to sit down and batch create all my social media content for the week ahead. This included shooting images for Instagram and creating new Pins for the blog posts that are already live. My favourite scheduling tools are Planoly (Instagram), Tailwind (Pinterest) and Tweetdeck (Twitter). Batching things like this into one day really does take a lot of pressure off throughout the rest of the week.
Is there anything you’re doing in your business now that could be dropped? For example, do you force yourself to send a newsletter weekly when there’s nothing really to say? Or have you set yourself a weekly goal of 3 x blog posts and know that you’re constantly pushed for time. One thing I stopped doing was worrying about how perfect my Instagram stories looked. I would get so caught up on making them aesthetically pleasing that I wouldn’t post at all.
Maybe there’s something you could delegate to a VA if possible? Maybe your social scheduling is something someone else can do for you? Or your accounting each month?
CREATE YOUR DREAMS LIST
Now to the fun part. Yes, I know organisation, spreadsheets and tracking is Fun with a capital F, but this where you get to put your dreaming cap on and really start setting intentions for your business. Make a list of all the amazing things you want to do over the next five years, and where you’d love to see your business grow. Give yourself the permission to dream big without limitations or restrictions. Don’t even let yourself get into the mindset of “I’m not sure I could ever make that happen” because right now you’re running a business during a global pandemic, so yes, you absolutely can make things happen.
Here’s a little sneak peek into what I added to my dream list recently:
Launch The Manifestation Collective membership site
Relaunch 4 Magazine with 50k subscribers
Vision Board & Pizza Parties across the UK
Have my own office to run the websites, magazine and membership site from
Hire 2 people to help grow the business with me
Have an online shop selling all things spiritual, bohemian homeware
Am I expecting all this to happen within the next couple of months? No. But I’m putting the intention out to the universe so she knows what to help me achieve.
Now you have your 5-year dreams list, what can you start taking steps towards this year? Break that down into quarterly actions, and then into monthly mini goals. By breaking your dreams into smaller, more achievable goals, it doesn’t feel as overwhelming does it?
DECIDE YOUR MANTRA
I want you to decide a mantra that is going to lead you into the next twelve months of your business. Think of it as a positive affirmation that you say to yourself daily. Mine, for example, is:
“I believe in myself, and trust I have the drive, commitment and passion to make the next year my most magical yet.”
What’s yours going to be?
TOAST TO YOUR SUCCESS
Finally, have a glass of your favourite drink, cook yourself something delicious for dinner and toast to your success. Now more than ever you need to celebrate the good times and plan for better times arriving. Because they will. And when they arrive, you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
Are business planning days, or CEO days as I call them, something you’ve considered before? Let me know in the comments below if this is something you plan on doing soon and what big plans are on your dreams list.
P.S If you want to surround yourself with uplifting, supportive, positive action-takers, who mix strategy with spirituality, then come and join The Manifestation Collective private Facebook group.