Can you believe we’re already at the end of January? I don’t know about you but this month has flown by for me. And, it hasn’t gone quite as I planned. Life happened. Can anyone relate? The planning of December 31st seems like so long ago. My house has been hit with repeated rounds of illness and other unexpected headaches have popped up in both life and business. But, here’s the thing—that’s life. And, as much as I want things to move along exactly as I plan, it’s not always going to and that’s why if you want to rise to the next level, in life and business, you have to plan for the unexpected.

Planning for the unexpected sounds like an oxymoron. How can you plan for something that you didn’t expect? To be honest, you can’t. But, you can set yourself up to handle the unexpected before it happens and these 5 things can help you do it:

  1. Goals and a plan
  2. The right systems in place
  3. Tools that help you get the job done
  4. Time management skills
  5. A support system

Finding the proper balance

If you know me at all then you know I love Disney World. My family has been enjoying our Disney vacations for years and I even worked as a Disney Vacation Planner for a few years. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about so I’m going to relate planning Disney vacations to planning for life and business for just a minute.

The major difference between people that enjoy their Disney vacations and those that don’t all comes down to the planning that they do in advance. You have to plan for things like Fastpasses, ADRs, and extra magic hours. If you are doing a Disney vacation and don’t know what these things are then you’re going to struggle more than you need to.

But, the real key is to find the balance between having your plans made and allowing for flexibility and spontaneity within your trip. You have to have your plans, but you have to be ready to make adjustments as needed. Some of our favorite Disney memories are things that we didn’t plan but we went along with the flow when an opportunity presented itself.

This is what we need to do in business which brings us to #1 on our list above.

#1 You need goals and a plan to reach them

If you aren’t going to set goals then you might as well forget about it. How do you know if you’re making progress in the right direction if you don’t know where you want to go?

If you want 2020 to take you to the next level you have to know what that level is that you’re shooting for. And then, you need to break that goal down into actionable steps you can take to get there. It sounds simple, but it’s not always. Especially if you’ve never done it and are trying to do it on your own.

If you operate on the same information that you have always known, you’re going to get to the same place that you’ve always gotten. If you want to grow, you may need to really commit to outside help such as business coaching, to help you reach that next level. A coach can help you pinpoint what your real goals are and then help you create that plan to get there.

But, we’ve talked about setting goals and achieving them quite a bit on the blog in the past, so I’m not going to stay on this topic for too long. You can read more about it at the following links if you’re interested:

#2 The right business systems in place

Now that you have your goals and plan, systems are what’s going to help you get there. This can be a hard jump for entrepreneurs and small business owners to make so if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. When you’ve built the business singlehandedly, or almost on your own, you’re probably in the habit of doing the things that you need to in order to get the job done.

And, that works… somewhat.

You get the job done, but it’s hard to grow when there aren’t systems to follow. How are you supposed to bring other people into your business and properly set them up for success if you don’t know how to tell them to do what you’ve been doing. They aren’t just going to instinctively know what you want them to.

You should have a system for everything within your business. How do you handle customer complaints? How do you take orders? What steps does a new marketing employee follow when creating social media posts? How are your employees supposed to make the best decisions to help your business grow if you don’t have the systems in place for them to easily follow?

If this is an area that you’re struggling, I highly recommend that you read the book The E-Myth Revisted by Michael Gerber. This book dives into exactly why you need systems and how you can begin to create them within your business.

#3 Tools that help you get the job done

This is the year 2020. If you aren’t taking advantage of technology to help your business grow then you are way behind the times. Honestly, there just isn’t any excuse to not leverage the tools that are available. Don’t make things harder than they need to be.

If you need help with an area of your business, start looking around to find the tools that will help you.

Are you struggling with sticking to a marketing plan for social media? Then find a scheduling tool and spend several hours plugging everything in for the next month.

Does your office struggle with proper communication between departments? Find an app that works for you. There are plenty to choose from like Slack. Two people can communicate individually and whole teams can communicate together. And, it allows everyone to access it easily on their phones which is the convenience many people are looking for.

The SPEARity app is a fantastic tool for helping you reach the next level in 2020. It allows you and your team to goal set and create plans on individual and departmental levels. You can set goals for the year break them into quarterly goals, create your daily plans to stay productive and track your progress. It can integrate with your email to simplify your task management and time management efforts. And, it allows business owners and managers to track the progress that their teams are making easily in one place.

#4 Time management skills

It doesn’t matter how good of a plan you create if you lack the time management skills that you need to pull it off. The good news is, time management can be learned. If you are struggling to accomplish the things on your list, it could be that you stink at managing your time. A business coach can help improve in this area.

It’s easy to feel like you’re busy every moment without realizing that you really aren’t doing as much work as you think you are. Or, you aren’t working in the right areas to see the growth you want.

A simple thing you can do to see if where you stand in this area is to spend a week tracking your time. Keep a daily log of how much time you spend doing what. This includes chatting with the receptionist while you pour your coffee, walking to the food truck for lunch, and connecting with others on LinkedIn (or mindlessly scrolling through social media). You’re probably going to find that you are wasting more time than you think or spending time on tasks that aren’t really moving you towards your goal.

This is one of the things that I like about planning my day on the SPEARIty app. I’ll be honest, when I started using it I hated that I could only put 6 tasks on my list for the day (even though there are other places to keep a list of your running tasks that need to be done). But, it didn’t take long for me to realize how helpful this really was. It forced me to focus on the 6 tasks that were the most important for growth. Sometimes these were the things that were getting shoved to the bottom of the list before because there were more “urgent” things that needed to be handled. But once they were on my shortlist for the day they became a priority.

#5 A support system, mentor and accountability

We weren’t meant to do life on our own. And, we aren’t meant to grow our businesses on our own either. When you don’t have anyone to turn to for support or advice, it’s hard to grow. You will only be operating on your own advice and opinions.

It can feel scary to invite someone into this space. Entrepreneurs, business owners, and managers tend to be on the independent side. But to continue to rise to the next level, you need others.

Support system

We all need a cheerleader on our side. Someone that believes in us and encourages us when we feel overwhelmed and lost. It’s that person that reassures you that “you’ve got this” when imposter syndrome is kicking your butt. The person that’s on your side when everything is going against you. Without this person, or group, growing to the next level is harder than it needs to be and a lonely road.

Mentor

We’ve all heard the saying that if you’re the smartest person in the room than you’re in the wrong room. It’s wise to have a working relationship with someone that’s ahead of you. This person has walked the road you’re walking and can offer advice from learned experiences. Their advice is invaluable in helping you rise to the next level.

Accountability

Not many people are naturally wired to be accountable to themselves. It seems like we should be, but it’s easy to let ourselves off the hook. You need someone that will hold you accountable for doing the work you need to do.

And, I’ll give you a tip—this isn’t a close friend. You need someone that isn’t afraid to call you out. This person needs to be someone that will actually follow up with you to see if you’re doing what you need to do. And, if you didn’t do what you said you were going to, they’re going to work through with you what needs to change to make it happen.

This is where a business coach is invaluable. Not only will they keep you accountable, but they’re experienced in helping people walk the path you’re on. They know the right questions to ask to help you along the way.

What will the end of 2020 look like for you?

It all depends on what you’re willing to do throughout the year. If you do the same thing that you did last year then the end of the year is going to look a lot like the start of the year. If you think you’ve got a handle on it and ease off the gas pedal then you’re going to backslide throughout the year. But, if you have a plan and work the plan you can reach the goals you set for the year.

While January is just about over, we’ve got 11 more months to keep moving forward. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure?

If you’re ready to explore how business coaching and the SPEARity app can help you rise to the next level, give our SPEARity coaches a call to explore your options. We are SPEARity, a local Milwaukee leadership coaching firm that specializes in business coaching, executive coaching, and leadership development training.

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