Ever wished you could see the behind the scenes of how an Online Business Coach decides on their goals for the year, breaks them down then tracks their progress?
Well here it is! This is the process I use, and the process I give to my clients and Profit Lovers Members. It's simple, it's easy and you can track your progress each week in less than 15 minutes!
Here is my planning process including everything from sales goals and marketing themes to big wins and monthly progress check-ins. It can all be done using the Profit Lovers Plan + Track Ultimate...
Because I am curious (a.k.a nosey) I thought you might be too, so seeing how I plan my year as a self-confessed procrastinating, daydreaming business owner could be helpful?
BRAIN DUMP AND VISION
This is the first step before I touch my Plan + Track. I create a Vision for my year. This is not a Dream-board, it's much more practical than that and it directs how I spend my days in my business. No bouncing around, no faffing about, no lack of momentum. I am clear on my vision and my days are focused on reaching it fast.
How do you create a vision?
I brain-dump a lot, when I have a big project to figure out, when I am feeling overwhelmed, and even when I am lost for new ideas... the brain-dump is essential!
Here is how to do it!
Your business should support your lifestyle, so I always include life changes or goals I have too. To make it easy I split my brain dump into 3 parts; Business | Upgrades + Life | Future Me
My Brain Dump - not pretty but very effective!
Business is obvious; it's all the great stuff I want to adjust, improve or grow in my business over the year.
Life/Upgrades are things like trips overseas, help in my personal life to free up time, health improvements and other personal goals, life changes or upgrades I want to make.
Future Me are the goals that are more than a few years away, but I want to be working on them now.
For you that might be saving for a house deposit, increasing your retirement fund or putting extra money away for the kid's education.
Does it matter if you put things in the wrong category?
No, not at all. I use those categories just to prompt my thinking, so it really doesn't make a difference.
You can still get started on your Plan + Track for your business. The time-old advice of keeping things simple really works here. I would never have thought this exercise would help me craft a plan for my business that means something. All the experts touting that you have to find your passion to be successful, and asking how are you going to "serve" your community... what about you?
You're allowed to think about YOU, and you are allowed to create a plan where the purpose is to create a fantastic, financially stable life that fulfils YOU. That is how I turn up in my business because when I am kicking personal goals, I have so much more to give to my community.
It all starts with my Vision for me. Everyone benefits when we ladies look after ourselves first, we have more to give to everyone! That is a win/win!
So now what?
Next up we split that bad boy up into actionable steps! Now you know the vision you're working towards you can focus on how those ideas need to be split up. What extra income will you need to add to your sales goals? What support might you need to make it happen? What projects will you need to add to your Plan + Track when you start filling it out?
If you're in Members Club check out the fantastic new Goals + Plans Kit. We don't stop with a brain-dump, we also do an edit on who you need to be and how you need to behave to make your Vision a reality. It's one of my all-time favourite exercises EVER!
How to break your Brain Dump down
Remember to tag me in your brain dumps. You don't need to flash the actual plan - just a pic of you getting your Profit Lovin' on and creating YOUR future! You will find me @theprofitlovers
ANNUAL PLAN CALENDAR
First up, I showed off my less than attractive Brain-dump of ideas for 2021. My mad dumping into the categories of Business | Life + Upgrades | Future Me forms the basis of my plan.
Time to take those ideas and turn them into an action plan! Ideas on paper are good, ideas moved from paper and given life and space within the Plan + Track are much better! Let's turn your Brain-Dump into something useful!
I am using the Plan + Track Ultimate to demonstrate how I am customising my Plan for 2021 so yours may look a little different if you are using the free version. You can upgrade to my version right here [UPGRADE TO PLAN + TRACK ULTIMATE] or use the freebie version to get started.
The very first thing I do is scroll down to the calendar section to colour code any holiday periods. I always take a big break over Summer (also happens to be Christmas "Down Under" for our Northern Hemisphere Profit Lovers). I also extend my Easter break and I love my national public holidays so they get colour coded too. If I have breaks listed on my Plan + Track (holiday overseas...unlikely to happen thanks to Covid but a gal can dream....) then it gets allocated its space!
Around 60% of my Profit Lovers are mums and we know mums get busy over school holidays. It’s a BIG chunk of time out of your year, and while many mums still work in their businesses they often tell me they feel guilty for not having more time with the kiddies, or they feel bad that they’re not able to give their businesses 100%.
We want your business to be guilt-free! That is why we want to plan for those periods well in advance. You can do that by colour coding your school holiday periods so you know well in advance when you need to reduce those hours down so you can hang with the kids.
Colour coding the calendar section gives me an overall view of my year at a glance, and I can be realistic about how much time I have available. None of us really have a full year, right? Even taking out Easter and Christmas breaks reduces the year by a big chunk.
I can also see the periods that I shouldn’t be planning big launches or sales pushes, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to invite people to join Members Club right before I plan to take time off. It also doesn’t make sense for me to set big sales goals immediately before or after holidays, that is totally personal preference though!
First three months of my annual goals
Now I can see my year at a glance I am ready to work on the top section of my Annual Plan. This one is a little more complicated, and it involves figuring out sales goals and marketing themes so we will tackle that one in the next section! Also, if you did upgrade to Plan + Track Ultimate login to the Members Site to access your Plan + Track Ultimate Workshop. The Annual Tab video walkthrough starts at 2 minutes 38 seconds!
Let’s start tackling the monthly goals section of our 2021 plans. In this section, you will definitely notice I am using the paid version so if you would like to plan with the same level of detail you can upgrade here. This version has the monthly goal checkboxes and goal chart!
*I am ridiculously excited about these*
If you’re not quite ready for the upgrade yet stick with me so you can see the level of planning detail you might want to dive into next year! If you're new to planning or it feels like an overwhelming task focus on 3 months at a time. If you can get January to March done you're still going to be ahead of the game.
Deep breaths… I am starting with monthly sales goals.
Please don't let sales goals overwhelm you!
I can see what I want to achieve thanks to my big old messy brain-dump, I also allocate a cost so I know what I will need to invest to make my vision happen. Some expenses are business, some are personal - you will see how I factor them in below.
Next, I calculate how much I want to pay myself (including day to day living expense and my brain-dump goals), estimate how much I will need to pay in taxes and add in my business running costs. This might sound like a math-mare (you know..like a nightmare but with maths?), it isn't though. Estimating taxes is part of running a profitable business, and while you could leave it up to your accountant to figure out at the end of the year it's a very reactive way to manage your money. If you experience math-mares with your business numbers Members Club will walk you through the monsters and have you deep in profit dreams fast.
*This template is from The Money Kit in Members Club
These are NOT exact numbers, they’re estimates. This is where so many Profit Lovers get stuck, they’re so fixated on not knowing how to calculate the exact numbers or figure out their exact tax bill they skip this important part of planning altogether. Instead, they live in tax anxiety land and fear the end of year bill coming their way. Not an enjoyable or loveable way to increase profit right?
After completing the steps above I have a sales goal to work towards. Always start with your personal goals so you can build your business goals around them. Why work hard if your business isn’t built to fund your dream life?
My business booms in October, November, and February (I can see that clearly in the Historical Sales Tab of my Plan + Track). Plus I like to increase my bank balance just before Christmas/Summer holidays each year. I divide up my sales goal so the biggest goals are when I need to bank up some coins, and the rest of the months are fairly even. My holiday months (like January) always have small sales goals, because I am off relaxing!
If you have the Plan + Track Ultimate you will notice the goal checkboxes next to your sales goal -
you check the box when you hit the goal!
How to check you can REACH your sales goals
My sales goals aren’t just some random unachievable number I plucked out of thin air so I could buy a Porsche next year (I wish!). I track my sales every day. Yes. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I also track my sales conversions (the number of people who need to see my offers vs the number of people who make a purchase) and my average order value. This means I can predict my income.
Literally, every business in existence can do this. I will even show you how next week!
Business sales are 95% predictable, you just have to look for the signs and pay attention to a few numbers. Sure, you might have one month where your sales peak for no real reason or a sales offer that falls flat but for the most part, you CAN predict your sales. Stick with me... we are going to cover marketing goals, profit goals and why I use marketing themes/focus to keep my content creation quick and easy.
MARKETING GOALS + PROJECTS PLAN
I get asked this question all the time “What is the formula for calculating how much I need to spend on marketing?” There is no formula we can apply to every business. Annoying, but true.
So how do I figure out my budget?
Marketing budgets are easy to figure out when…
You know how many people you need to attract to make a sale! Because I track my marketing results (I will show you how in one of the next emails!) I know how much I need to spend on marketing each month to reach my goals, so it’s easy for me to enter the numbers. I don’t expect you to have this much detail unless you're an avid Profit Lover, so if you’re not sure add in an amount that fits your budget and track your results. You will soon see if it’s enough to help you reach your goals.
Sales are great, profit is better!
You will notice on my Plan + Track Ultimate I have a Profit Goal. I focus on profit growth, because increasing sales is great but if your expenses eat up all your profits then what is the point in working harder to make more and more in sales?
It’s easy to calculate because I manage my cash flow (words most people cringe when hearing, but it's not nearly as complicated as you might think). Stick with me… we will talk cash flow later, it's an essential part of creating a profitable business and I will make it crazy easy to get started. The faster you embrace it the better your profit will be.
Why do you create a Marketing Focus or Theme?
Because marketing is hard, having a focus or theme makes it easy! I use the same focus/themes each year so it takes no time at all to enter my focus or theme for the month. It keeps my content creation process so much easier and I can plan for seasonal promotions in my business.
The bits that make my plan AH-MAH-ZING…
(but you do need the upgraded version)
The Plan + Track Ultimate also has marketing goals; I use this section to plan the activities I am going to do and the result I want to get. Having a plan before the month starts means I can get all my ducks in a row and spend my time proactively marketing, instead of chucking random stuff out there and hoping something sticks. If you have ever felt unplanned, unfocused, random or just plain overwhelmed when it comes to marketing creating a focus or theme is something you should absolute get on board with!
My must-do tasks or projects are things that simply don’t get done if I don’t plan for them. Some of them are small, some of them will run across multiple months. The main thing is I track them and tick them off! Otherwise, I spin my wheels all year.
My BIG WIN for the month is something I really want to tick off that I can celebrate. It might be reaching a certain goal, it might be sticking to a good habit, it might be launching a new offer. The size of the win is irrelevant, it's how BIG the win is to you.
THE BEST DANG PART OF THE WHOLE MONTH!
The Ultimate Self Check-In
I have people who help in my business, but I am still going it alone 90% of the time. There is no big team to gather together to celebrate the end of month wins, it's me and Office Assistant (Ziggy, the rescue pooch).
I personally need something to remind me of my progress each month otherwise it all feels a bit hampster-wheelish. This is your own accountability register, and it has a visual! The months all accumulate and you can see your overall goal achievement on the Dashboard too!
If your business feels like it never really changes, or like you're doing all the things and yet nothing at once the monthly check-in is going to pay off big time! This single action will improve your business every single month.
CONTENT PLAN + EMAIL PLAN & TRACK
Content planning got you feeling all overwhelmed and under excited? The Content Planner tab will help. This is where you plan your weekly content for social media, blogs, podcasts, email list… whatever you like! The Plan and Track Ultimate has an entirely separate tab for planning emails so you can go wild with your content plans in 2021!
Never again will you sit at your laptop and think “what random thing can I post so people know my business still exists”. When you do that you’re likely to post something on the fly that doesn’t get a lot of engagement or reach, or (like me) not post anything at all. If you would love to hand over content creation and scheduling to someone else like I do, the Content Plan is invaluable.
That's a LOT of content!
You don’t need to fill all three boxes or even all days. I don’t post content on weekends so I leave those blank, with the exception of ads that might be running. I also don't suggest you attempt to complete all months unless you're an erupting volcano of ideas! Work a month to 3 months in advance so you're not overwhelmed.
The Ultimate version has drop-down boxes so you can see the mix of where your content is being shared. I tend to do the easy stuff, and that isn’t necessarily the profitable stuff so seeing a good mix of platforms really helps.
If you have the Plan + Track Ultimate you will notice the marketing budget and theme/focus copies from the Annual Plan tab. That makes it easy to see what kind of content I want to focus on for the month and what my budget is.
What if I don't want to use a theme?
If you don’t want to use themes you can use seasons, or choose a particular product area or offer to feature. Not all content needs to be directly related to your theme or focus, it just works best for me to do that.
I use the Content tab in conjunction with the Email Marketing tab in the Plan + Track Ultimate so I can use bits of my weekly emails for my ads and social content. I will show you through my email planner later. In previous years I would spend days each week trying to create different types of content for social media, the blog, emails… what a nightmare! Not only was it a HUGE time suck, it often left me feeling like a failure because I couldn’t keep up.
I now use repeatable patterns to make the process easy too, so every week the same kind of content goes out at the same time and on the same day.
I have pared it right down, and my results are better than ever.
Less work, more impact!
I have bought so many spreadsheets that supposedly help you plan your marketing, none have been anything more than a calendar essentially. That is why I added the Content Plan into the Plan + Track, it’s easy to use and perfect if you want to outsource content scheduling.
That’s it for content, it doesn’t need to be complicated it just needs to be consistent! Next up I will show you how I make sure the marketing I am doing is working. This will help answer the question of "where should I spend my time to actually make money!" If you’re lusting over my detailed plan you can get yours here and you also get a 60-minute step-by-step workshop to show you how to customise your plan in more detail.
EMAIL MARKETING PLANNING
Email marketing had me stuck for many years. I could never quite get ahead of it so it always felt very last minute and reactive. I was inconsistent and sometimes the content wasn't my best. If I was consistent I found it time consuming and a bit of a burden if I am honest. Because I was often creating content on the fly I also got stuck in the cycle of giving away free content but never asking for the sale... big waste of opportunity there!
Having a solid plan in place and tracking the results has turned that right around and for 2021 I have a visual to help me double check my email marketing mix contains at least 20% sales offers. You might be the opposite of me, you might find yourself ONLY sending sales offers when your bank balance starts to dwindle, if that is you then a visual breakdown of your content will help you correct that.
Let me show you what I mean!
I use the Email Marketing tab to plan content and allocate the "content type"
The email type breakdown chart shows me if I have a good content mix
The email marketing tab really has made life so simple and it has made handing off everything after I write the content to my Virtual Assistant so easy. She can see what is scheduled for when, the links and calls to action I want included, and where to find the Google Doc with info about the subject line, and copy. I can also see what subject lines get the best open rates, what offers get the best click through rates and if the email generated any sales.
This is another huge piece of the do more of what works and less of everything else puzzle. I can see what works!
The visibility tab will show you how many people are seeing and engaging with your business each week. You might think tracking sales is enough to know if your business is working or not, and sure... if you're not looking to grow profits or reduce your time in the business then that number is enough.
This part of the Plan + Track is how I know my business is working!
I want more profit in less time, so I need more people to see and engage with my business, and I want to cut or adjust any marketing that isn't helping me reach that goal.
Let me give you an example!
This year my content creator and I focused a period of time on Instagram growth, and it did not go well. I know this because I track my growth and I check my Google Analytics. Not only did I not grow my followers, but I also didn’t grow my traffic. I spent time and money with no results.
Because I plan and track what I do I can see that we either need to find a better way to use our marketing time or learn how to grow an Instagram account. I can see that I need to do something different because our approach didn’t work. I am not going to sit around and wait for things to magically improve, I am going to take action.
I don’t do anything that doesn’t create an impactIn contrast, I was interviewed on a few Podcasts throughout the year and my web traffic spiked and my list of subscribers grew. Right now I am running ads to my freemium offers so my list and web traffic has exploded!
So let’s get into what I am tracking in 2021
(Don't freak out.. I track a lot of numbers)
Once again, I am using the Plan + Track Ultimate and I have also customised mine, and you should absolutely feel free to change yours up too.
Every Monday I check Google Analytics to see if my site traffic looks like it should. I have been tracking for a long time so if it drops or peaks I look for why.
I track the social media stats that matter to me. If I am spending time or money on any platform it needs to drive website traffic to my site. If you zoom in you will see that I am tracking Podcast applications and Interviews booked too. As I just mentioned Podcast interviews mean new subscribers so it's a great use of my time and focus.
Next up... Sales Funnel Tracking!
How I track my sales funnel
This is the part that I keep a very close eye on because this is where sales come from.
If you don’t have a sales funnel in your business you MUST put that on your 2021 to-do list! (A sales funnel is a step-by-step process that allows you to bring your potential customer one step closer to your offer and a buying decision through a series of marketing actions like automated emails, videos, articles and landing pages that will do the selling for you)
I am sure my sales funnel tracking looks scary for most, but it still only takes five minutes a week to grab all the numbers, I use ThriveCart which makes it super simple. I could outsource this task, but I don't. These numbers drive my entire business, I want to see they're all doing what they should be. I want to know there are no leaks in my funnels or odd bugs hanging about.
If you’re already in Members Club then you can literally get started today by using the Sales Funnel Kit. It will take you through the process of automating your sales from start to finish.
SALES TRACKER + CASH FLOW PLAN
We’re down to the last few tabs of my planning process, I hope you have picked up some good tips so far.
Let's check out my Sales Tracking Tab and Cash Flow Forecast next, but before we dive into that, I want to touch on past sales and why seeing your sales growth month on month and year on year matters.
When I work one on one with clients we make their businesses easier to run. Often they’ve been overworked and underpaid for years so when the strategies we create kick in and their businesses start to run like they should they FREAK OUT!
Yes, the feeling of a smooth-running business freaks them out because it’s so foreign. Unless they’re stressed, overwhelmed, panicked and miserable they can’t really be making sales, can they? This is when I get the frantic “Melanie, sales have completely dried up, HELP ME!” emails. My first question will always be … “have you checked your progress against your past sales?”.
100 times out of 100 (and yes, it’s happened that many times, I am sure!) they came back to me with ..”ummm…. I am making more than I ever have…” It’s just that their businesses run so much better now that sales have become easy. That is why YOU need to track your past sales. Your business sales should grow while you become less stressed, less overwhelmed and more in control.
That is the true measure of a Profit Lover.
Let’s talk sales tracking!
I track sales daily on an A3 monthly planner. At the start of each day I log into my online shopping cart software and run the reports to show me how much I made in sales the day before.
I use an monthly planner pad to record my sales daily (yes...daily...)
This simple task keeps me focused on making money. If I have more than a couple of days of fat donuts (zeros) I move my a** fast! No sitting around waiting for things to improve, I send a sales email, run an ad, follow up on leads, check my funnels, jump on Instagram live - I do the things that make the money!
At the start of each week, I enter my sales results into my tracker for the previous week. I have my revenue broken down into different income streams, you don’t need to do this if you want to keep it simple to start. Don’t track too many different income streams - the time you spend will outweigh the benefit of the task!
A new addition (only in the Plan + Track Ultimate) is the income per hour and average order value estimates. If you can focus each month on making slightly more per hour and slightly more per order your income will increase significantly!
Track Your Income per Hour and Average Order Value with the Plan + Track Ultimate
Cash Flow … please don’t leave me now….
I can talk about almost anything to do with business and have Profit Lovers smiling along until I mention cash flow. Today I am going to keep it so simple anyone can give it a try.
Cash flow is simply looking ahead to make estimates on how much money is likely to come in via sales, and go out via costs expenses.
What is left is profit.
It is no more complicated than that. If you’re new to cash flow forecasting then keep it simple and focus on good estimates, not perfection. People want perfection, they want every single number to be 100% accurate but a cash flow forecast is an estimate!
I enter my approximate bank balance on the first of the month (obviously I can’t do that until Jan!).
Next at the top, I have entered my ESTIMATE of how much I am going to make in sales, then my cost of goods/sales (you can skip this entirely if you’re not sure if your costs are expenses or cost of goods - just put it all in expenses for now).
Then I have my monthly subscriptions, I added this into the Plan + Track Ultimate template because so many of the tools we use now are monthly subscriptions, they can get totally out of hand so I like seeing them laid out clearly.
Then I have my variable expenses, all the expenses that are either annual or they change all the time. At the very bottom is my profit or loss estimate. By filling in a few months I can see if I am going to run out of cash or if I have enough extra to spend on more marketing, more outsourcing, a new computer, a pay rise!!
I don’t have any credit cards, loans, etc so I don’t use the Liabilities section but if you have business-related debts you can enter those in there.
At the very bottom, I can see an estimate of if I am going to make money or not. If I am not I can then adjust my expenses or review why I don’t have enough in sales to cover costs.
That’s it! It’s that simple!
I know all these numbers seem like a lot, and maybe you’re thinking “I am only a small business, I don’t need all this information” but these numbers matter. If you want to increase profit and work less these numbers are what will make that a reality. It doesn’t matter if you want to make $50k per year in profit or you’re working towards the magic million, you need these numbers.
Never enough time to get to the things that matter? Let me give you a hard truth. You’re not prioritizing the things that matter or you don’t know what matters, if you did those tasks would happen before anything else.
I never miss tracking my numbers, ever. My Plan + Track is the number one priority in my business, it tells me exactly where to spend my time, how much progress I am making, and what I need to focus on next. Literally, ALL the important stuff is covered.
When I hear Profit Lovers say "I just don’t have time to fill out my Plan + Track" it’s like I am watching them push their car down the road in the wrong direction while yelling "I don’t have time to fill up on fuel or get directions".
Your Plan + Track will fuel your business with everything it needs and give you the map to get where you want to go. You can keep shoving a heavy car with an empty fuel tank in the wrong direction or you can lighten your load by pulling over once per week and filling up your Plan + Track.
So...that brings me to the Time tab. If you’re always running out of time for the important stuff, schedule it! You don’t need to use every box of the Time tab, I don’t. I do however block out time for the stuff that absolutely must happen in my business.
Check Yo’ Self!
If you‘re feeling unproductive, unfocused or overwhelmed but never really getting anything done, make a copy of the time tab and use it to check yourself! Record everything you’re doing over a week to see where your time is going.
If you’re using the Plan + Track Ultimate you will see a colour coded chart of where you’re spending your time - very enlightening!
Here is one I prepared earlier for you….
Get Proactive with your Time
To use the Plan + Track time tab effectively, create blocks of time to focus on the important things in your business.
I have big chunks of unallocated time on Tuesday and Wednesday because that is when I am normally coaching clients. The other days have big blocks of allocated time so I always know where my focus should be on those days.
When I reviewed my time this year (I tracked a full 9 weeks - I hated tracking but LOVED what I learned) I was a task jumper… or kind of … rabbit brained! I hopped around from task to task never really focusing for more than 20 to 30 minutes on any one thing. At the end of the day, I would be brain-fatigued but have done nothing of substance.
So I have been deep in focus mode for the past six months, consuming lots of information from the "experts", trying out different tools, habits, tips and tricks and I feel like I have a very new view on what it means to be focused. I am currently writing a brand new Kit for Members Club all about FOCUS for our February challenge (every month has a new challenge related to increasing profit).
For me, in 2021 productivity is out and FOCUS is in. What’s the difference? You can be the most productive person on the planet, but if you’re focused on the wrong things you will never reach your goals.
Happy Profit Loving!