coinsI’ve found that December is an ideal time to design my business and life adventures for the coming year. Does it surprise you that I choose in the midst of holiday mayhem, to create an oasis for business and lifestyle planning? Read on to find out why and how (in less time than you might imagine), planning in December can benefit you and your business too.

With less than a month before the end of the year, how are you feeling about your business? Maybe you’ve met or exceeded goal setting for where you hoped you’d be? Or have you landed short of a securing a particular client or collaborating with a new partner or hitting a financial target?

If things did not go as well as you wanted, assessing what happened and planning your vision for the year to come can become an act of resistance. When you’re feeling frustrated or embarrassed, how do you embrace setting up a new plan?  How do you bridge the gap, breathe in new possibilities from where you are now to where you want to be?

[Tweet “The best thing you can do for your business is plan now for next year. “]

“All plans are wrong by definition. But the act of planning is essential to business success.” – Tim Berry, Founder, Palo Alto Software

If last year’s results did not go according to plan (or you flew without a plan), you are not alone. Despite what you see on social media, everyone hits peaks and pits in their business. Whether you’re new or experienced in business, there’s always something to learn and implement from the pits.

Remember, you are not your plan. Don’t let short-of-ideal performance crush your vision for the future. Your business plan is a powerful GPS to help you navigate a fresh way forward, taking into account what you’ve learned in the last round.

Here’s the thing: By having a map and starting on it now, the likelihood of your being further along next year is likely to increase exponentially.

Time to Get Real. What’s working well in your business?

Size of achievement does not matter here. What worked well? List everything that worked well in your business from soup to nuts. That change in work space? Your redesigned website? Leads from a new forum or referral source?  Increased number of subscribers or sessions sold? Dig deeper, why did these things work?

Do not skip over the step of giving yourself permission to pause, recognize and celebrate that these things did work.

Time to Get Real. What didn’t work? What do you need?

Look at the stings. Substitute curiosity for judgment here.

There are gems to be polished from the pits of what didn’t work that will inform your next plan. What didn’t work and why didn’t it?

Recently I was talking with a client who was running into writers block that proved an obstacle to achieving professional writing goals. We explored an alternative structure for organization and time management that resulted in more flow, sections completed, leisure time and peace of mind.

What structures and systems would support you going forward?

What can you create and complete in the short term?

What do you really want to release in the world and how can you do it quickly and simply? You don’t need to start from scratch. Think of content you already have.

One example of a quick year-end boost to business is artist and associate professor Janet O’Neil . Janet took to the challenge by re-purposing her original artwork with inspirational sayings, getting twelve months printed and bound as a calendar to sell in time for the holidays and new year.

What will you create? Who will you create for? What is important for you to measure?

Initiate a project now that leaps over assumptions about readiness and perfection and get-it-done.

How freeing would it be to spark that fire now and use it to start on a high for 2015?

Invest in the Support You Need to Grow Your Business

Whether it’s meeting regularly with an accountant, support circle and/or trusted adviser such as a coach or mentor, take steps to set yourself up with who and what you need to boost business in the new year. You do not need to go it alone. Give yourself the gift of focusing on your strengths and getting clarity and support where needed.

Take the Year-end Assessment

It’s tempting to keep moving forward without pausing to reflect on where we’ve been. I know the temptation well. Here’s a free tool designed to help you recognize the adventure you’ve been on to use for the adventure ahead. 

Craft Your Plan – Your Way

As a right-brain creative, the path of least resistance for crafting my plan is to keep it simple and visual, colorful, flexible, and accessible.

To suit the needs of small business owners and creative entrepreneurs I work with, I recommend using the consolidated One-Page Business Plan. Although it is no longer offered as a stand-alone product on the site, I arranged for you, as a valued subscriber, to get instant access to this one-page business plan template.

Additionally, I recommend Jennifer Lee’s The Right Brain Business Plan. Her books are an invitation to approach business planning in an enjoyable way, using artistic visuals to accompany key concepts.

The holidays are upon us and you’re busy. I get it, really I do. Still, dedicate the space and time to map your plan in December and it will guide you and your business forward with a zesty sense of mission and clarity from wherever you are now. Lead true and set up conditions to let your business soar!

I want to hear about your experience with the assessment, business plan, and learn about key challenges facing you in the New Year!  Drop me a note at gail@gailgaspar.com (I love to read your mail and will respond to each message personally).

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