Soooo the new year is coming in hot and you’ve been struck by the feeling that you should probably do some planning for the year to come . . . buttttt, you don’t really know where to start, eh?

I’m going to share how I reflect on my past year and plan for the coming one in this post today, so feel free to take some tips and plan the next year of your business alongside me!

Here’s how I do things…

Reflecting on the past year

First, I start by listing out everythingggg I LOVED and HATED about the past year. I actually do this for both my life and business. I list out all the things I could possibly think of. From behind-the-scenes business stuff, to specific clients and products, to marketing things, even all the way down to that I hate cooking meals and love vacations in the summer. I basically do a love/hate brain dump.

Question 1: What did I love this year? What did I really enjoy about my life/business?

Question 2: What did I hate this year? What was really disappointing or upsetting?

I then follow it up with a question about what I avoided. There tends to be things I hate doing so much that I just avoid them because I was so not down, but they could be useful to my life/business. So I list out those too. These generally relate to my second question of what should I have done that would have made the year better?

Question 3: What did I avoid doing but should have done?

Question 4: What would have made this past year better?

I then get into the really important stuff – how I spent my time and money! I ask myself what felt like time and/or money well spent. The answers to this tends to guide what I go about spending time on or purchasing in the year to come.

Question 5: What felt like time and/or money well spent?

Question 6: What felt like time and/or money wasted?

I then take a look back on my financial records and start to ask questions which will help me determine what I really need to be focusing on coming up.

Question 7: What was my revenue from product/service? In order of most-least revenue, what products and services brought in what amounts in my business?

Question 8: Where did my clients/customers come from? What marketing strategies successfully brought in paying clients/customers?

Deciding what I want my life/business to look like in the new year

After I’ve looked back at the past year, I then look ahead and determine what I want my life and business to look like in the coming year. A lot of my insights from the past questions help me form my answers to this one.

Question 9: What do I want my life and business to look like in the new year?

I get super specific here and am shameless in what I really want my life to look like. Want to know what I wrote last year?

‘I want to be building my business, from a beach with a frozen margarita in hand.’

Know what I did this year? I made it a reality! I worked from Bali for 3 months at a coworking space that was a short walk from the beach and I scoped out the best frozen margs in my tropical town. Mission accomplished!

I also decided I wanted to make money while I slept, because let’s be real, that’s some serious life goals. And I made it happen! I made my first “dollar-while-sleeping” while (probably unattractively) K-O’ed on a bus heading home from a weekend in Berlin.

Deciding on which projects make the cut for the new year

I should also mention throughout the year I make a list of projects I want to start.

That’s things like building new products, launching new services, tackling new marketing strategies, hiring new team members, etc…

I then take a look at my list, add and detract from it depending on if my questions above led to any lightbulb moments.

Once I have that down, I get to work running all the project ideas by the following questions:

Has my audience specifically asked me for this? Or is it something I want to create that my audience didn’t necessarily communicate having an interest in?

  1. In terms of resources and tools, do I have what I need to create this?

  2. Do I already have all the skills and education I need to create this? Or will I need to take time on learning something first in order to create it?

  3. How long will this take me to complete? (Ballpark a time estimate of how long it will take you to create the thing.)

  4. How much will it cost me to create this? What’s the initial investment?

  5. Will this make me money while I work on other stuff? Will it generate passive income?

  6. What is the max amount I would expect to make off this in one year?

  7. Will this have any benefits other than just income? (Eg. Authority, SEO, relationship building, list building etc…)

  8. On a scale of 1 – 10, how excited am I to work on this?

  9. On a scale of 1 – 10, how naturally does this fit with my brand and would I authentically speak of the thing?

Those questions quickly eliminate some ideas and make others clear winners.

For all my winning ideas, I estimate an amount of time the project will take to complete. Some take just a matter of weeks, others are months-long projects.

Assigning projects into quarters

I then start allotting them into quarters. I put as many projects into a quarter as will actually fit.

I’m going to be honest though, while Q1 and Q2 projects tend to take place as planned, the stuff happening in Q3 and Q4 pretty much changes from whatever I planned at the beginning of the year.

I don’t look at this as a negative, just a fact of life and a benefit of having a small business that’s able to change directions and focus very quickly depending on what I want and what my audience is asking for.

Legit, I had absolutely no plans to release a course teaching how to become a Squarespace designer, but all my past students were asking for it, so I knocked all my other projects out of Q4 and built what my audience was asking for!

That’s pretty much it! That’s how I look back and plan for the future year!

I do have one last tip for you if you decide to go through this exercise…

Tip: Do this unapologetically.

It’s not wrong to have goals and dreams. It’s okay to want to achieve great things, make a difference, make income and be all-in to create your best life.

So if that means writing this out somewhere where no one will see it, do it. If it means doing this alone, do it. If it means not sharing your plans and dreams with those you know will shoot them down, don’t fill those people in.

There’s no point in playing small. You’ve got one life, and there’s no time like the present to make the most out of it.

I’ll be over here cheering you on into the New Year friend!

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How I outline my business plans for the New Year