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Business Strategy

Strategic Plan Template for Online Entrepreneurs: How to Make the New Year Count

Photo by Miriam Müller
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Photo by Willy Sietsma

Each December for the past 4 years, I’ve spent a few hours creating my vision for the new year.

And each year I’ve done this, we’ve at least doubled our business from the previous year. (And one year we even tripled it!)

It’s like every hour I spend planning is literally worth its weight in gold.

In this post I want to share the exact template I use each and every year to clarify my vision and turn it into reality (this really is the “secret santa sauce”.)

This template is courtesy of my dear friend Don Crowther. It’s so good that I’ve never felt the need to make my own.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS:

==> STEP 1. Use Don’s 2-Page Strategic Planning template to take stock of where you are now. (Download the template here – it’s free!)

This includes 2 parts: how you currently feel about your business (the qualitative) and specific indicators (the quantitative) such as:

  • revenue (this can include gross income and net profits)
  • size of your mailing list
  • size of your social media following and the level of engagement
  • number of unique visitors to your site each month
  • ?number of products, programs, services and offers you have
  • the number of clients you serve

Here’s how I described my current business situation when I did the first part of this exercise a few days ago:

After 4 years in business, it feels like we’ve really found our sweet spot and dialed into the essence of what we do, who we serve and how we’re different. We’re poised to relaunch LiveYourMessage.com at the beginning of the year and have a platform that truly reflects what our work is all about. We’ve reached over $1.5 million in sales and this year’s growth came from our done-for-you services (both our high-end agency work and our web design packages for emerging entrepreneurs) and our year-long mentoring program. While adding additional offers has allowed us to keep doubling each year, we feel like our business has become too complex and we need to simplify. Murray and I have too much on our plates. We’ve struggled to build the team of superheroes we imagine and we finally feel like we have the resources to invest in an experienced team.

You can also check out my first post about this strategic planning process back in 2012 and how I described my business 3 years. As you’ll see, the picture has changed significantly as it will with you too when you do this exercise each year… 🙂

==> STEP 2. Next, create a detailed vision of where you want to be by the end of the year.

Again, this includes 2 parts: the big picture vision (the qualitative) as well specific, measurable objectives (the quantitative) that will let you know when you’ve attained your vision.

Here’s my vision for 2016:

We’ve hit our groove, built our team and created the systems to create real leverage and run our business with ease. We’ve created our dream team, who have allowed us to explode our impact, work exclusively in our genius zones and find balance. I feel free to spend my time writing, speaking, facilitating, mentoring and consulting and leave the day-to-day management of the business to the team. Murray is able to focus on high-level marketing, technology and operations. This has allowed us to create two new “hits” with Heroik and Internet Famous, while simplifying our business and eliminating our older offers. We’ve sold out each of our live events and our high-end agency has grown into a million-dollar vertical within our business, serving leading 7-and-8 figure entrepreneurs. We can truly say that we turn entrepreneurs into online superheroes. We are living our message.

==> STEP 3. Once you’ve completed Steps 1 and 2, you’ll be able to see the gap between where are you are and where you want to go.

Now it’s time to brainstorm specific actions you can take to close that gap. I recommend brainstorming 6-12 initiatives.

For example, one focus for next year is doubling our email list from 50K to 100K, while increasing engagement with our community. I’ve mapped out 6 specific initiatives to make that happen:

  1. do one major partner launch this year
  2. drive Facebook ads into 1-2 evergreen funnels
  3. increase conversions from visitor to subscriber on our new website with updated opt-in gifts and a responsive design
  4. send valuable blog and email content 2-5 times/week
  5. do another 30-Day Video Challenge
  6. build our local following through monthly in-person Meetups

==> STEP 4. Once you’ve identified 6-12 actions you can take to “close the gap” between where you are and where you want to go, it’s time to map these out onto a 12-month calendar.

You want to plan out when you’re planning to take each action. This is where the rubber hits the road.

For example, we’re planning to do our big launch in July and we’re already lining up partners to support us — 7 months in advance! And that’s how you get big partners to support you… 🙂

If you’re not sure which of your many brilliant ideas to focus on, I’ll be giving you a process in my next blog post in this New Year’s series to help you choose the actions that are most likely to get you where you want to go.

==> STEP 5. Finally, and this one’s not on Don’s template, I wrap a marketing calendar around my actions and priorities.

This takes the guesswork out of blogging and emailing my list by showing me exactly what to write about when so that I’m always building interest in my core initiatives and upcoming promotions. It also allows me to evaluate new opportunities and know when I can say yes to promoting new partners or taking on a new client and when to say no.

I’ll show you my process for creating a marketing calendar in the third blog post in this series, so stay tuned!

===

In this 3-part series, you’ll learn 3 of my favorite tools and templates for making 2016 your breakthrough year.

I know from personal experience that every hour I spend planning over the holidays is literally worth it’s weight in gold.

Now’s the time to reimagine what’s possible for yourself in 2016!

I’d love to read your vision for the new year. Let me know what you’re up to in the comments below.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know...

  1. Jim

    Thank you for sharing this. You’re awesome! I’ll be working on my vision for Mediafluent in 2016 over the next week.

    Reply ·
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About the Author Marisa Murgatroyd

Marisa is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes, and the creator of Start With You where she helps people just like you to discover the business they're meant to build, not just the business they can build. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. She’s the “go to” brand builder for industry luminaries and heavyweights such as Justin Livingston, Callan Rush, Danny Iny, Alexis Neely and Susan Peirce Thompson. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.

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