Copyright (c) 2008 Christine Kloser
If you’re like most creative entrepreneurs, the thought of writing a business plan is not the highest item on your priority list. You’d rather explore new ideas, create products and services, develop a new speech, or work with your clients… than sit down and write a plan.
But, to be successful in business, you need to have a plan in place. The good news is you don’t have to write a formal (bank-friendly) business plan to keep your business on track. In fact, until recently, I used my self-made “sticky note business plan” to keep track of my business goals and plans.
The “sticky note business plan” is a simple and fun tool you can use anytime, any place to keep your business pointing in the right direction. Here are a few simple steps to get you started:
1. Gather Your Planning Supplies. Thankfully, you won’t need fancy computer software, or heavy reference books to write your plan. All you’ll need is a wall, six poster boards, three pads of sticky notes, scotch tape, a note pad, a Sharpie marker and a pen. It’ll also help to have a quiet place and a few hours of time to enjoy this process. You may even want to light your favorite candle and play some relaxing music.
2. Lay Out Your Plan. Tape the six poster boards up on the wall. Once the boards are up on the wall, grab your notepad. Sit down for a few minutes and quietly think about the aspects of your business you want to plan. For example: do you need to design a new product or event, do you want to create a marketing plan, do you need a timeline plan for the next 3 years of your business, or is it time to plan the launch of a new service?
Use your notepad to collect all of your ideas and decide on the six main categories you want to include in your plan. Next, write each category on six separate sticky notes using your Sharpie marker. Then, stick one note on the top center of each poster board… so each board is labeled for one of your six topics.
3. Download Your Ideas. Here comes the fun part. Get your pen and sticky notes and begin to write down every single idea that comes to mind for each category. Don’t edit or censor any ideas. Simply write them down and stick them on the poster board for that category. Try to stay with one category at a time as best you can. But, if other ideas keep coming to mind, write them down and pop them on the appropriate poster. Let the ideas flow and enjoy the process of getting everything on paper.
4. Organize Your Ideas. So, now that your ideas are on the poster boards, begin to organize them. Look for themes, sequences, and categories of items. Physically move the sticky notes on the poster board to group ideas together. Sometimes I’ll organize ideas by timeline, sometimes I’ll organize by concept… you can organize them in the way that makes sense to you.
5. Put It All Together. Now, step back and take a look at your whole plan. After going through this process, you may discover some items need to move higher on your priority list; while other ideas may need to be dropped from your plan completely. The right things to do (and the order in which to do them) will surface now that you have the whole plan in place. Next, rearrange the posters so the highest priority plan is at the left side of the wall and the lower priority plan is to the right side of the wall. Finally, transfer your highest priority tasks to your calendar to make sure you begin executing your plan.
6. Keep Going. As you make progress with your plan, continually re-evaluate where you are… and keep moving forward with your projects. Personally, once I complete a concept from one of my poster boards, I remove the sticky notes so I can visually see my progress and all that I’m accomplishing. You may enjoy doing the same thing.