When it comes to growing your online business, if you are anything like I am, you will have very ambitious ideas for how it will take off.
But have you stopped to consider that the only way to ensure your exciting ideas actually succeed is to have a very clear plan of action?
You need an ambitious plan that sets direction for each stage of growth in your business. That helps you get there step by step. Fast.
So let me tell you more about a tool I have used throughout my Entrepreneurial career, so that you can use it to achieve your goals and create that success you want.
Before we begin: Get clarity on your goals
One of the biggest challenges that online businesses face, that always gets in the way of realising ambition, is not having clear long term goals. I covered this in my last coaching club session: How To Power Up With Simple Goal Setting.
Your goals need to be well defined and measurable. You need to make sure that you know exactly what your financial expectations are and your milestones for success.
You also need to use key performance indicators and targets such as website visitor numbers and conversion rates to help drive you forward and keep your teams focused.
So if you haven't already - set your business some ambitious growth goals.
Stretching your ambition
My view is your growth goals need to be realistic, but they should always stretch you just a little beyond your comfort zone and what you think is possible.
You want something to strive for and you have a lot to share with this world. So make those goals ambitious. They should scare you a little bit... or if you are feeling bold - a lot!
It is easy to overestimate what you can do in a single week, and that can often leave you feeling like you're just not making progress on the things you want. However, I find that you will totally underestimate what is possible in a year, so surprise yourself... stretch a little... or stretch alot.
Setting your priority projects for your online business
When you know your goals, it helps you focus on what the real priorities are for your business and identify where your "busy work" pitfalls are.
You want your overall growth goals to inspire projects that will have the biggest impact on your core business and help you make huge leaps forward in profits and your purpose or fulfillment. It is ok to brainstorm a variety of ideas before you identify the key projects to prioritise for your business.
“Successful people are always moving forward and always seeking improvement.”
My Secret Tool For Success: 90-day Sprints
If you are in Tech, you will already know about the Agile project management methodology which introduces the concept of "sprints". This is one of the most successful tools I've come across that your business can draw inspiration from to really move you forward and get some momentum going.
The idea is that a business growth goal or project is broken down into individual work packages that are completed in short ‘sprints’.
These can be any length of time - for your online business growth I recommend you make it a 90-day sprint. Each quarter in a year = 3 months, so this timeframe maps entirely and neatly onto a 90-day sprint.
I swear by this timeframe - it is long enough to achieve some real success, but not so far away your team gets demotivated because they can't see the finish line. Everyone can see the finish line across a 3-month window. The use of this tool just makes the year look a lot less daunting.
So what are 90 Day Sprint Plans exactly?
The 90 Day Sprint is about staying focused.
- It's about breaking down even the most complicated visions and goals into simple next steps. e.g. Goals > Priority Projects > Steps to complete project.
- It’s about identifying key milestones that we want to achieve over the 90 days.
- It’s a plan to move you forward one step at a time with focus, speed, clarity, and inspiration for all involved.
I want 90 Day Sprints in my life! How do I get started?
Here's how I do it:
Step 1: Map your growth goals across each quarter.
Take your overall business growth goals for the year - the ones that you identified earlier - and assign these to each quarter across the year.
- Quarter 1 - January to March
- Quarter 2 - April to June
- Quarter 3 - July to September
- Quarter 4 - October to December
Ask yourself, in which quarter will I work towards and achieve this goal?
You should break your goals down into manageable chunks across the year if need be, especially if too broad or large. Your growth goals effectively become the targets for each quarter.
Step 2: Set Up your Plan template for Q1 and choose a maximum of 3 priority projects to focus on.
Next, take your first quarter - Q1 and create 3 columns on some paper or open up a fresh google docs. Title each of these columns with the name of the months in that quarter as headings. e.g. Column 1 = January, Column 2 = February, Column 3 = March.
- Choose a max. of 3 Priority projects that you want to work on, that will help you achieve your goals during that quarter – these are your Focus Areas.
- You’ll still have to take care of your day-to-day work.
- These Priority Projects should rise above that day to day work - they’re where you think your time, talent, attention, and money are best spent on progressing longer-term goals.
- Your day-to-day tasks will keep you afloat, while focusing on your priority projects will propel you ahead.
Step 3: Decide how you will judge success
- Set your criteria for success for those priority projects.
- Define what success will look like after 90 days by asking: What is the measure? How will you track progress?
- Be ruthlessly realistic about what’s possible within just three months.
- Decide which changes you’ll have to make to your ordinary workday to make this priority happen.
Step 4: Identify The Steps Required + Assign an Owner
- Break the priority projects down into manageable baby steps over the full 3-month window.
- Write these steps down as actions and assign the action to the column (month) in which you will complete it.
- Aim to get granular; break each priority project into at least five to seven action steps and milestones.
- Keep the baby steps tangible, not fluffy - make them something you can take hard action on and "tick off" once complete.
- Your 90 Day Sprint Plan needs to be detailed enough to guide your actions but not so detailed that you feel overwhelmed or lose yourself in the minutiae.
- Assign a deadline and an owner - the person who is going to get the action done.
Step 5: Take Action, Hold Yourself Accountable and Measure Success
Pick up your finished 90 Day Sprint plan and take a look:
- It's time to take action and start moving your business forward. Begin by reviewing all the actions required in the first month, of your first quarter.
- Put plans in place to make those actions happen.
- Do the work
- Continuously review your progress against the 90 Day Plan.
- Hold yourself to account and challenge yourself to push to get things done!
- Celebrate the achievements of each 90 Day Sprint. You'll be amazed at how much you can get done when you focus!
Make It Happen In Your Business
Growing your online business can be a challenge, particularly if you are looking to achieve big things. We all know that you can do this; it just needs a solid plan of action and alot of focus in order to get you there. The 90 Day Sprint Plan will make it a whole lot easier. I promise.
Following the steps above and implementing a 90 Day Sprint plan will set you and your team up for massive progress and success in your business.
- Set your overall business growth goals for the year if you haven't already.
- Decide to embrace 90 Day Sprint Plans in your life! If you are going to invest the time in creating one, use it. It will change the way you look at your business forever. It did for me.
- Work through steps 1 to 5 above.
- As you reach the last month in your current 90 Day Sprint Plan, start the process of creating your next 90 Day Sprint Plan for Q2.
- Keep the momentum going!