In this week’s episode we take a question from Lisa of Lisa’s Balcony, a super talented designer and regular listener of the show. Lisa asked us about how to plan ahead for your creative business, in particular how to create an effective annual plan that you can actually stick too. We dig into a ton of actionable tips in this episode, which we hope you’ll find very useful.

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Show Notes for This Episode:

[1:00] Today we’ve got another listener question from Lisa @lisasbalcony
[1:30] Lisa’s question
[2:00] Planning can be a great thing, but it’s human nature to fall into bad habits
[3:00] Lisa recently started planning and reviewing her years
[4:00] Dustin’s been trying new planning techniques and asks himself ‘what went wrong last year?’
[4:40] He let his subscriptions build up, as he tried them and forgot to cancel which meant a huge bill at the end of the year
[5:00] Planning is a bit like spring cleaning – things will pile up and once a year you clear it all up and feel like you can breathe again
[6:00] Tom suggests listing some tangible examples of how the hosts plan their work
[6:10] Tom prefers to plan quarterly, plans one big thing for each quarter but uses a weekly to-do list
[6:40] Design Cuts will launch two big things this year and Tom says he wouldn’t be able to manage more than that
[7:30] Having a goal of reaching 20 things in one year is not a realistic goal
[7:50] Dustin tried this and achieved only 3 of his goals
[8:15] He admits being really bad at organisation and planning
[8:40] This year he found a holistic coach that helps him with planning
[9:40] If you can’t afford a business coach, you can try a mastermind with your friends
[10:20] Make sure your mastermind includes people you look up to and will help elevate you
[10:50] Ian spends most of his time around his children and this helps with his childish nature
[11:00] Lisa has a theme for the entire year and last year it was getting the website sorted
[11:50] This year’s theme is: ‘do less, earn more!’
[12:30] Her aim is to focus more on her personal life but at the same time she would like to grow the business
[13:00] Planning your year ahead will also inform how much time you have for creating products
[13:30] One of Lisa’s goals should be hiring an assistant
[14:00] And to create step-by-step guides for the work flow
[14:30] How do you keep yourself on track and keep going?
[15:00] Lisa has recently discovered Trello and it changed her life
[16:00] The benefits of using Trello and how it’s been set-up for tasks at Design Cuts
[17:00] Tom believes the app was built by designers for designers
[17:40] Ian wishes to get his studio built in 2018 and Dustin wants to come to UK and help him
[18:40] This will help Ian be really inspired and his YouTube videos will look better
[19:30] Tom looks back at Lisa’s question and suggests an annual goal, which would be to double her income
[20:00] Then he split the year into quarters: in one look at marketing and distribution and in another quarter looking at dropping costs
[20:30] Your day to day work will continue as it is but the planning will give you more focus
[21:00] The next step is setting-up monthly goals e.g.: social media calendar, reaching out to influencers
[22:20] You will only need to allocate a bit of time daily to your monthly goal
[22:50] Tom lists other examples from improving your business: optimising what you have
[23:40] The list includes: redesigning your preview images, analyse the sales process, dig into the data and inform process for new products
[24:40] Lisa has lowered her expectations for the number of products she wants to make every year
[25:30] Be realistic when setting-up your yearly goal and this might mean giving up something else
[26:00] Most importantly think about growing your business in the long term
[27:10] Think about boosting your purchases from your return customers
[27:40] Offering discounts with increase number of products is also a useful strategy
[28:20] All the extra revenue adds up
[29:00] Lisa doesn’t enjoy sending automated emails but she knows she’ll have to do it one day
[29:40] Dustin says he will do every activity first to get a sense of it
[30:20] Tom suggest having a quarter dedicated to getting more from your existing clients and list the monthly steps
[31:20] Send a personal email and/or personalized gift to some of your existing customers to let them know how much you appreciate their support
[33:30] Ian admits he is not the best planner and Tom wants to hear his perspective on the topic
[34:30] Ian tends to shy away from things that he is not strong at and hopes they will sort themselves out
[35:00] He would like to sort out his website and make his offering clearer to his clients
[35:50] For this he will need external help from a website designer
[37:00] Tom suggests hiring a part time designers/copywriter
[38:00] Ian needs a specific designer for Shopify and someone with experience in MailChimp
[39:00] He would like to know more about the back end of these tools and learn how to use them
[40:00] Start with something no matter how small it is, even if it’s just sending an email
[40:40] Ian needs someone to conceptualise his website
[41:30] You can still get clients and have a running business with a basic website
[42:40] Tom confesses being ill at the end of 2017 and having an anxiety attack when thinking of everything he wants to achieve in 2018
[43:40] It’s important to look after yourself and your health
[44:20] Take the first step and you’ll feeling much better when you’re doing the work
[45:20] Dustin thinks Ian is great at executing and that is his advantage
[47:30] Everything eventually becomes a habit
[48:20] It takes 14 days for something to become a habit
[48:50] This is how Ian got into the habit of having coffee every day
[49:30] Closing thoughts from the hosts
[50:00] Lisa – what needs to change in yourself for you to achieve your goal?
[50:30] Dustin – have a theme for every quarter
[51:00] Tom – be realistic about the number of things you want to get done
[51:30] You should aim for 1-4 goals each year
[52:00] Ian’s goal for 2018 is to get 100K subscribers on YouTube and receive the Silver Creators Award
[53:00] To achieve this he made a goal of uploading a YouTube video a week
[54:30] Ian – See what works for you
[55:00] See the big goal and just reverse the steps down to smaller steps that you can take
[55:30] Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode

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