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There are a lot of resolutions that come with the New Year. We make big plans and decide we want to start new practices, fine-tune our business model, or perhaps start a new video channel on YouTube to improve visibility.

These aren’t really strategic. They might be good ideas, but they lack any weight or organization. Why are you going to do them? What needs to happen before? What happens after? When it comes to planning the future of your business, you have to be strategic. You have to plan out exactly what you want to happen and not just what you want to do.

Consider your resolutions. They’re usually simple ideas that are often broad-ranged. Planning takes these a step further and defines what they will do for your business model. So rather than simply resolving to better your business, create a strategic model to follow this year and the next.

Effective Business Plan: 4 Helpful Tips

1. Write down your big marketing goals for the coming years
This should be done by writing down one big project per card or piece of paper. Such projects might include starting a new blog, opening up new investment opportunities, or improving your networking opportunities through word-of-mouth marketing.

The concept behind this is to get a general idea of what you want to happen and what changes you want to make. This doesn’t mean that all of these will prove viable or even necessary for the next year. As you define them, you’ll discover what you don’t need, and perhaps even come across something that you neglected to mention.

2. Define those goals
To define your big goals, organize a list with smaller goals that are more descriptive under the big goals. This time, you’ll want to focus on what it will take to make them happen. Are there necessary steps to making them happen? In this particular portion, you’ll discover what you need to do and perhaps even what you don’t need to worry about.

3. Focus on the act of prioritizing those goals

What needs to happen before something else? When does it need to happen by? Setting a timeframe for your goals is essential if you’re actually going to achieve them. This is perhaps the most prominent stumbling block of simply making a resolution or generating a goal. You have to know when you want it to happen by, or you may just end up putting it off or even forgetting about it completely.

Applying it to your agenda isn’t always as easy as simply writing down a date on a calendar. You’ll need to organize what needs to happen, but most importantly, schedule time to address that particular goal.

Set stages that lead up to the big goal. Use your smaller goals to set down a timeframe that makes it possible for you to focus on them effectively. This will allow you to work steadily toward that big goal and ensure its success. Remember to allow for time that you won’t be available (personal/travel) to lessen your chances of needing to make last-minute changes which might set you back.

4. Don’t schedule in stone
When it comes to planning, strategy is an ongoing concept. New things happen; new opportunities arise, and unexpected outcomes occur. These can change our schedules very easily. We may even identify goals that are no longer applicable to our business model. So, instead of setting an agenda set in stone, write it in pencil.

As you proceed through the year and pursue those goals, you can revisit them regularly and update them according to what’s relevant. You’ll need to stay tuned in and keep your schedule updated according to what needs to happen to ensure your success.

Having a goal is only the first step to turning it into success. You have to be willing to make sure that you understand what it’s going to take and invest your time and effort into making it happen. So, focus on seeking the results, not just listing your brand’s goals.

It’s the results that matter to your brand and will ultimately define your success. As long as you can define your goals and apply them to your agenda, you’ll be able to ensure that your goals are all met by year-end.

Maria Elena Duron, is managing editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of – a word of mouth marketing firm, and a professional speaker and trainer on developing social networks that work. She provides workshops, webinars, seminars and direct services that help create conversation, connection, credibility, community and commerce around your brand. Maria Duron is co-founder and moderator of #brandchat — a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding that is recognized by Mashable as one the 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers.

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