Business planning for the new year

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Writing this post is going to force me to do my business planning for the new year. And I’m sharing it all! What I mean by that is that it might not be pretty. You’ll see that I’m going to focus equally on home and family life goals because feelings of accomplishment come from everything that we do. I can make all the money in the world, but if I don’t teach my kids how to be good people (fill in the blank) then I won’t have accomplished my most important mission.

I had 2 pretty huge ah-ha moments when I read Danah’s last article about how to do a year-end review of your business.

  1. Happiness and passion are huge contributors to drive and motivation. It is also what makes those hard times worth it, so remember that while numbers talk, happiness helps you get out of bed in the morning and do it all again.
  2. This part is paraphrased: what do you need to leave behind? AKA don’t carry dead weight into the new year. (mind BLOWN! As if I needed someone else to paint me a picture!)

How I’m going to build my plan

I will start by breaking my day (and my life) into segments. After that, I will develop each segment into more details of wants and needs. I’ll come up with the amount of time needed for each task. And finally, I will make some family goals and see how I will fit those into the big picture.

Let’s get started.

I have my kids. And I have my business.

You want to be sure that you have time to follow through on your plans. For obvious reasons, because you want your business to succeed, so that you can make money. But also because you want to feel the success of following your business plan. So make sure you have enough time in your day, week, or month to accomplish your goals.

Kids

My kids are in grade school and preschool, so Monday through Friday I have specific tasks that involve getting them to and from school. They are also in Taekwondo, so I take them to that 4 nights a week.

The stuff I do for my kids is my obligation. So I can start by filling my daily schedule with those items. That will allow me to see where I have “free” time to work my business. In my case, working from home as a single mom, my available time will dictate a lot of what I can do.

I want my kids to start learning more about taking care of themselves and the house. Cleaning up after themselves is the main thing, but other things like dishes and laundry. One of the things I can do is save these tasks for the evenings when we are all home and I will have to get them involved. Additionally, that will also ensure that I’m not using my free time during the day for something that I can do at night when the kids are home.

Business

Next, we have my business. I have 2 businesses: my virtual assistant business and I also work for a solar company. My businesses are both independent contractor roles, and the money I make is more or less a result of the time I put in. I’m not punching a clock for either of them, and it’s up to me to work and make sure that I have money coming in.

Now that I’ve identified 2 different work segments, I need to break that down further.

Breaking my business down

I’m going to break down both businesses into different income-producing channels. After I’ve made the list, I’ll go back and qualify each with the time it takes to do it, and how much of an impact it has on my income.

Virtual assistant business

My VA business makes money in two ways: clients, and selling digital assets.

Val and I want new clients, so I will check job boards daily for new leads. I am using the lead finder for the Fully Booked VA. This used to be called Horkey Handbook. I highly recommend the Fully Booked VA if you’re serious about being a VA. BUT, I also have a free email course that you should run through first. 😉

Time needed: Checking for new leads takes mere minutes. However, if I need to send an email to someone, while I re-use my emails, I adjust them for each new lead and I want to have a good 30 minutes available for this task.

Having clients is how we make money, so all I really need to do is look for new leads! But what else can I do? I can continue to write new blog posts like this.

Time needed: Depending on the topic, my enthusiasm, and the amount of research I need to do, this can take as little as one hour. But usually more like 3-4 hours from start to finish. So for the sake of planning, we’ll say 4 hours.

What can I do to increase digital asset sales? Blog posts are the main way to draw attention to my digital assets. So when I’m thinking about what to write, I need to incorporate those items.

I think I make “publishing a blog post every week” my goal every year. 😂 If you’re following me, you know it doesn’t happen. The question is why? And the answer is simple: I haven’t made it a priority. It doesn’t feel like a money-maker. But I’ve paid Val for several years now to build my Pinterest following, and she’s done an amazing job! When she started, I had around 100 followers and now it’s over 500!

Measurable goals for VA business

I’m officially making it my goal again: 1 blog post per week! And new clients. Goals have to be measurable, though, so the new client goal is actually to check for new leads daily.

Will these goals give me the results that I want? If I check for new leads daily, I will eventually find new clients. I don’t know if publishing weekly will affect my digital sales, but it certainly can’t hurt.

And there you have my 2 goals for my virtual assistant business.

Solar business

This is a bit more complex because I am a manager and do other activities for the whole team. I will use those activities for my time planning. But for income-producing activities, I need to knock on doors. This is where I make the most money, and the time I put in does have an effect on my income.

How will I measure “door-knocking?” There are a few things I can track, but the main numbers I look at are the number of hours and the number of sets. (I’m setting appointments for solar evaluations.)

For each hour that I knock on doors, I set approximately one appointment. And approximately 1 out of every 5 appointments turns into a sale. The company that I work for gives a $500 M1 payment shortly after the contract is signed, and the balance of the commission comes after the solar system is installed.

If I work backward from my financial needs, I want to make sure that I’m bringing in a minimum of $3k per month. So just from my M1 payments, I need to make 6 sales per month. (That’s $500 x 6 sales). Keep in mind that if I make 6 sales, there will be larger commissions that come in down the road. But I’m just counting the money that comes in shortly after the sale.

Time needed: 7.5 hours per week. How I got that number… If 1 in 5 sets becomes a sale, and I want 6 sales, I need to set 5 appointments for every sale. So 5 x 6 is 30 appointments per month. If I set approximately 1 appointment per hour, I need to knock on doors for 30 hours per month, or 7.5 hours per week. Not all appointments are held, but I’m not going to get into that number.

I will admit that 7.5 hours per week doesn’t sound like much, but it will be hard for me. Not impossible, but hard. I have about 4 hours in the middle of the day when all of the kids are at school. I will need to knock on doors for 2 hours per day, 4 days of the week. What feels more doable is to work 3 days during the week and then a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday. This is something that I will play with to see what works for me. I have to remember that I do independent contractor roles like this so that I have flexibility and control over my time.

Another way I can look at this is that I need to set 30 appointments per month. Are there other ways that I can set appointments that don’t require me to knock on doors? Absolutely! I can follow up with old leads. And I can ask for referrals. Both of these are things that I can do when the kids are home.

Measurable goal for Solar business

So my main goal is 30 sets per month. As noted above, I have at least 2 different ways to get sets that work for me.

If you’re interested in getting your home evaluated for solar, please reach out to me using this form. The form is set up for central Illinois, but just tell me where you’re at because we sell all over the country! The same goes for work: if you’re interested in hearing about how you can make money setting appointments, just reach out to me by email and we can chat.

My plan summarized

Most of my business plan for the new year has to do with how to maximize the projects that I’m already working on, and how to fit it into my day. REPEAT: HOW TO FIT IT INTO MY DAY.

How you can do it

List out what you do (your sources of income) as well as your daily obligations. Identify how much time you need for everything. What can you grow, or do without? Do you need to improve upon something?

It’s like you’re setting your priorities. I can’t stress enough that you need to have time in the day to finish the things you want to do, or you might feel like you failed when you never had a chance to begin with.

Here’s what mine looks like just written out on paper.

2024 GoalsList of goals
Rough plan of my goals for the new year

Probably the most important part is the bottom few lines where I segment my day into time slots. In the morning I have my little one with me, and I list out the things I can do when we’re together: blog writing, going to the gym, texting leads for appointments, team work, which is responding to emails and looking up projects on the computer. I can also do stuff like laundry during this time.

In the middle of the day is when I am free, and according to my goals, I need to use this time to knock on doors!

After school and through the evening, I have the kids and we have taekwondo. I can still hop on the computer to finish things, but it’s important to me to be flexible, and I want to avoid computer work at night so I can focus on the kids and our home needs.

I love that the weekends are completely open, again, for flexibility. If something doesn’t get done during the week, I still have the weekend to get caught up. Plus we have time to do family activities.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do this line of work (independent contractor and work-at-home gigs) so that I can be there for my kids when they need me. FLEXIBILITY. As long as I’m taking care of the kids, taking them to their activities, and I’m there for them on sick days, and teaching them how to be good people, then I’m doing what I need to do.