A wise man once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” —Yogi Berra

Do you find yourself so caught up in the day-to-day running of your business you find you don’t take time to plan for your own growth? If the answer is yes, you have lots of company! While larger companies have staff whose sole focus is strategic planning and business development, this critical component of business ownership (working on vs. working in the business) is often a challenge for small businesses and sole proprietors. Following are three tips to help you successfully incorporate that vital “working on” function into your business.

1. Think Big. Do a little dreaming and soul searching. Write down the following: your vision of what you want your company to look like five or ten years from now, your brand promise to your clients, and finally 2-3 guiding principles that define you and influence how you do business. Everything else flows from there.

2. Schedule a regular strategic planning session. Make it a firm appointment in your calendar like any other important client meeting. Yes, even if it’s only you attending!. You wouldn’t blow off a client; give your business the same respect. If you don’t, who will? Optimally, 20% of your time should be focused on strategic planning/business development. If that seems too daunting, start smaller, perhaps one-two hours a week. As you see results you will become more comfortable allocating more time, hopefully delegating some tasks, and eventually working up to that 20% goal. Preferably schedule this time out of the office so you can give it your complete attention without distractions.

3. Put it in writing. Drawing on the vision you articulated earlier, create a few specific, short and long term measurable goals, the action steps to meet the goal(s), and a realistic timeline. Goals can be overwhelming so break them into bite size action steps you can accomplish and then build on that success to get closer to fulfilling the actual goal. Use your regularly scheduled planning sessions to check on your progress. If you’re checking items off the list, great, create the next set of goals and/or next steps. If you’re not, take some time to ask yourself why. Are the goals or steps unrealistic, are you carving out the time to work on the action steps? New habits take time; be patient with yourself, rework your plan if necessary, and don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Here at The Byne Group we’ve embraced this philosophy and have committed to “walk the talk”. We have a vision and a roadmap to get there. We have a written strategic plan with long and short-term goals. We allocate one full day a month to meet as a team to “work” our plan. We review our progress and any challenges we encountered and plan our next steps accordingly. If it works for us, it can work for you. So, take Yogi’s advice, create a plan so you know where you’re going and you’ll know when you arrive!