In my first blog post I have promised to give you a concrete guideline how to create a razor-sharp strategic profile for your small business. But before I start with the first step of your strategic planning guide I want to give you a first tool tip that will support your strategy and project planning massively. Maybe you know and use it already, but to me it is relevant so that I want to addict a separate post to it. This simple and cheap tool has helped me a lot to create new projects and improve my business strategic planning and my working processes constantly. Though maybe it appears to be old fashioned in our digital age I would like to share it with you today.
My common working day starts with a first thought about my small business and it usually ends with a last thought about it. Many ideas and thoughts are running through my mind all day. This may be new project ideas or process improvements or just little details about a customer order. Sometimes they even keep me thinking in the night. Some of the ideas are worth to keep, some are garbage and some are worth to review later. In my introduction for this blog I already wrote about the long list of notes I have collected ever since I started my strategic planning and thinking of my own business.
How can you provide your strategic planning and project ideas from vanishing
Strategic planning and project ideas unfortunately have the character to vanish quickly once they have come into your mind. On the one hand you can’t memorize them all for a longer time. On the other hand they maybe block you to go on with further thoughts. If you want to preserve your ideas for your small business from falling into oblivion and want to keep them alive you need to write them down in any kind of way.
At first it is important to write it down immediately, no matter where (Just as long as you can take it with you ;-))! A second tip: Write down all of your thoughts, unfiltered and unlimited! It doesn’t matter if they appear to be good or rubbish at the moment. Make your review later. Don’t limit yourself. You can still delete a rubbish idea later, but maybe – if it was good – you will have forgotten it forever. So, write it all down! All this written stuff however doesn’t help you at all when you’re not going to sort and organize it once in a while.
How to sort and organize your strategic planning and project ideas
Writing down your strategic planning and project ideas not only helps you not to forget them. Your written notes have a second and much more valuable impact: You visualize your mind! This visual impression of your strategic planning for your small business can empower a firework of new ideas based upon the existing ideas, because your mind is going to search for connections between separate items or will go on to improve ideas unconsciously.
Once in a while go and sort your list of ideas. Read your list and sort your ideas and plans roughly into categories that may fit best for you. You have some items you can’t categorize? No problem: Put it into the “not yet categorized”-category. Give your list a structure. Sort it by preferences and importance. The sorting will improve your planning again, because you refresh your mind and you start to juggle these ideas again, maybe adding new aspects to it. Add new ideas regularly and keep your list up to date. Delete ideas only when they are finished. Print your list and take it always with you. Look over it once in a while just to refresh your memory about the ideas you already have.
You may do your strategic planning and project list for your small business in paper form or you can use your computer and create a digital list. My favourite is the paper version. In the next passage I will show you how my non-digital-notebook looks like. It is cheap, simple, easy to handle and I have it always with me.
My personal non digital strategy notebook
During my nearly eighteen years of strategic thinking and business planning I’ve tried many ways to catch and keep my thoughts and ideas. I have started to write down ideas on a very early stage, even before starting my own small business. In the beginning this was a collection of loose leafs. After some time I created a Word.doc for every project. This was not well-arranged. Then I tried to copy these Doc-files into Outlook-files, one for each project. Here I have to mention that I do my complete organization of customer projects in Outlook, that’s why this seemed to be a good solution to have my strategic planning in Outlook. But it wasn’t. Not long ago I improved it again and found the perfect way for me how to save, sort and organize my strategy thoughts and project ideas for my small business. I took all my different lists and files and I copied it into ONE Word-file, sorted and separated by categories and printed. My personal project and strategic planning book is a pocket book that now consists of three parts:
- Blank sheets: Many empty pages offer my mind free space to unfold and to write down new ideas for projects and improvements.
- My well sorted project and strategy list: This list covers all of my previous notes and ideas. Also included are some facts (e.g. my list of registered web domains awaiting projection), checklists (e.g. main list of most important SEO steps) and other helpful information for my strategic planning. I always have all of my project ideas and my strategic planning with me. My current list has more than 30 pages now.
- My business strategy plan: On top and as clearly visible cover of my personal strategy book I add my concrete strategic planning for the next six months. Twice a year I extract from my list of notes the five main work steps for improvement of my main projects or the workflow for the start of new projects. I limit the number to a maximum of five because this helps me a lot to stay focused and not to bounce between too many items at once.
Start to write your own strategy book for your small business now!
- Write down all your ideas concerning your business or projects immediately! Write ALL your ideas down! Don’t filter them. Don’t limit yourself!
- Create a structured and categorized list of your notes. Keep this list up to date, take it always with you, and look over it once in a while to know which ideas you have.
- Start to work on your ideas step by step.
The most important of it all is that you can start it right now! Grab yourself a peace of paper and write down all your business thoughts and ideas now. This post became longer than I have planned, I’m sorry. Thanks for your patience. But nonetheless I hope it offers some helpful tips for your small business strategic planning.
How do you save and organize your strategic planning and projects ideas?