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    How Entrepreneurs Can Roadmap a Successful 2018

    With a little effort, you can plan for and make 2018 your best year ever!

    Every year, I take the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day to reflect on the year, identify those goals that were accomplished, and determine why I fell short on any unaccomplished goals.

    Going through this exercise allows me to deliberately plan the next year and hit New Year’s Day running. How you start the first six months of each year often significantly influences how well you finish.  


    Plan for Success

    To set the very best conditions for next year, I recommend that you conduct a planning exercise. Once you commit to this exercise, I encourage you to come up with some self-imposed ground rules. For example, perhaps you only want to concentrate on the first six months to see what works, what doesn’t work, and make adjustments for the last six months. You’ll also want to dedicate enough time, space, and tools to think and be creative. This may mean getting a hotel room, conference room, or other space. You’ll also need a whiteboard or large sticky note butcher paper to write on.  

    If you do this from home, you may need to send everyone away. You may find it helpful to plan with someone who knows your business. If you lead a team, you’ll definitely want to include them and lead this exercise in a very collaborative way. No matter what you plan for 2018, the buy-in and excitement of your team matters. So, grab a teammate, peer, or virtual assistant that you can brainstorm ideas and develop goals and objectives with. Fly them in, accommodate them, or plan over Zoom, Skype, or another similar tool. 

    Some Simple Questions

    Begin this exercise by asking a few key questions. 

    “What would a successful year look like?”

    Get into a thinking mode and spend at least 30 minutes brainstorming – imagining, dreaming, really thinking about what a breakthrough year would look like. Then, put it down in writing in a way that works for you: a paragraph, bullet points, key words, etc.  

    "What are my non-negotiables?

    What are those things that you’re not willing to do or experience to get to a successful year? Those things that you’re just done with and no longer want to experience again. Write down those things that you’re NOT doing in 2018. For example, not working weekends or holidays.

    “How much do I want to make in 2018?”  

    What’s the number that you already have in mind and maybe you’ve been scared to say out loud? Without thinking about the how right now, how much money do you want to earn in 2018?

    Past being prologue, we need to sometimes take a step back before we move forward. So, the next question you want to ask yourself is, “What were the metrics that I used this year and what were the results?” 

    Get a whiteboard or a big sticky poster board. The idea is to put it visually in front of you and take a step back, look at it, and analyze it.

    “What do the next 6 months look like?”  

    Once you’ve gained an appreciation for both the questions and answers related to your 2017 results, this is your next question. The answer to this question will help you determine how you’re going to make money in your business and how you will map it out. Think about those things that you want to commit your focus on for the next six months. List all of the ways in which you plan on making money the next six months. Whiteboard it. Then, get specific on your revenue projection for each one.

    Next, get out your big dry erase calendar and write out all your promotions to visualize what you need to move around. Look at the life of different ways you plan to make money and write out what needs to happen in order for you to make that money. Plan out the time on your calendar where you’re going to focus on each thing. Identify what preparatory actions you have to do to get to your main promotion, and include them on the calendar as well.  

    After you put everything down on your calendar, take a step back and ask, “Do I have enough white space between promotions?” 

    Remember that both you and your audience needs breaks. Also consider: Do I have all the back end work considered in my calendar for each of my promotions or activities? Do I have all the other activities I need to be doing to drive my business forward? 

    Then, take the time to identify those things you really want to do, but might not be in your calendar yet. Write those down elsewhere to look at and see if they can fit into your next 6-month plan.

    Next, ask yourself, “How do I need to show up?” Is your plan compelling? Are you excited? If not, you may need to go back and change things up. When you look at the calendar and everything you’ve created through the course of this exercise, do you feel a little scared?  Will you have to step out of your comfort zone?  Hopefully, the answer is yes.

    Your next step is to implement the result of your road map planning exercise. Identify your next steps and actions. Think in terms of one project at a time. What is simultaneous and what is sequential. Do not try to tackle everything at once. Much of your success will depend on how well you communicate with your team to get them on board.  

    Lastly, celebrate! Planning out your first 6 months for 2018 is a huge accomplishment and you should do something to commemorate the moment. It’s the very first step of fostering a culture of recognition throughout the year.

    About the author:  Dan Dwyer is a retired Army officer and founder of Vet2BizLife, LLC, which is dedicated to the boots to business advancement of veteran entrepreneurs. Dan is an experienced leadership, training and organizational developer, military strategist, coach, speaker, writer, and podcaster. Every week on the Vet2BizLife Podcast, Dan interviews the most inspiring veteran entrepreneurs with the purpose of sharing their stories, experiences, successes and challenges to improve the personal and business lives of others. Dan is a graduate of both Indiana University and the University of Louisville. He is also a member of the International Association of Top Coaches, Trainers & Consultants (IATCTC). Dan can be contacted by phone: 719.330.3731, email: dan@vet2bizlife.com, or on social media: FacebookLinkedInInstagram, or Twitter.

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