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3 Steps to Creating Your 90-Day Strategic Business Plan

Do you have a love-hate relationship with planning?

Allyson Lewis, 07/28/2011

It happens all the time; you get together with your team with high expectations of creating or updating your business plan for your next month, quarter, year--and you don't know how to start. You know you need a road map, but you are not exactly sure what direction you should take.

We have all been there. Strategic planning is overwhelming. There is so much to accomplish. The goals you want to set are challenging, and you know they will be hard to reach. Your time is limited and you don't know where to begin.
So why doesn't everyone have a plan?

Because we have a love/hate relationship with planning.

Even the word "plan" has a negative connotation. When you hear the leader of your team tell you it is time to create a five-year business plan, you secretly groan and that sinking sensation hits you in the stomach.

Old plans have forced you to commit to things you knew you couldn't accomplish. And you realize each time your boss sets a lofty goal that it will demand even more of you.

Yet at the same time there is a part of you that loves plans. When we see what is possible to accomplish and when an entire team buys into this new strategy, a strategic plan gives us hope. It inspires us. It allows creativity and freedom for new paths to engage us and challenge us. When we clearly see new possibilities, there is a newness and a novelty that captures our imagination and makes work fun again.

This article will give you an outline for how to structure an effective strategic planning meeting. The 7 Minute Life 90 Day Focus Agenda has been specifically designed to just that. We hope you can use this tool to kick-start your next team meeting.

In this article we will share with you the template for how you might choose to create your next strategic plan using The 7 Minute Life 90 Day Focus Kit.  You can download this free kit here.  It is filled with the actual questions, worksheets, and checklists to walk you through our strategic planning process.

Why 90 days? When broken into 4 pieces, a year is much easier to manage.
So how do you do it? We believe that you need to take the time to tune everything else out and Prioritize, Organize, Simplify your work life. How can your team take it to the next level if you don't all understand what that next level is? Maybe you see the big picture but need to clarify if for others? The downloadable tools can help you do that. We hope you will use it over and over again at your regular team meetings to plan where you want and need to go. It is important to revisit these topics again and again to make sure you are in-line with your goals and objectives both at work and home.  

Thing You Need for the Meeting

  • A full day to meet with your team
  • A quiet off-site location free from distractions
  • Pens
  • Calendars
  • Blank paper
  • A written agenda
  • Printed copies of your sales figures, prospect lists, to-do lists, etc., so you can see where you are now
  • Copies of the pages of The 7 Minute Life 90 Day Focus Kit for each team member

Timeline for the Meeting

  • Plan to spend the first four hours focusing on completing the worksheets and talking through ideas for where you want to go.
  • Continue to talk during a working lunch about ideas for how you can reach your goals.
  • Spend the second part of the day focusing on how you can execute your ideas. Who does what?  Who needs to be involved? When are the deadlines?

Focus Worksheets
You should spend about four hours working through these worksheets together. Everyone should work to fill out the worksheets individually.

8:00: Arrive

8:15-8:45: Eat Breakfast and Share Expectations and Desired Outcomes for the Meeting. Complete Brief Business Assessment

Step #1: Prioritize
8:45-9:00:  Priorities Page (7 Minutes)
9:00-9:30:  Highest and Best Use of Your Time (20 Minutes)
9:30-10:00: Who Do You Want to Be 90 Days from Now?  
--Health, Home, Work, Family, Friends, Faith, Finances, Learning, (30 Minutes)             
10:00-10:15: Purpose (15 Minutes)
10:15-10:30: Break

Step #2: Organize
10:30-11:15: Unfinished Tasks (45 minutes)
11:15-11:30: Mental Clutter (15 minutes)
11:30- 12:30: 90 Day Work Goals (1 hour)

What are our goals for the new year?
--What are the concrete action steps we will implement to achieve these goals?
--Who is responsible? What are the timelines?

12:30-1:30:  Lunch 

1:30-3:00: Open Discussion of Strategic Questions
--What is our core business?
--Who is our target market?
--What differentiates us from our competition?
--What is our compelling story?
--What is our crushing offer?
--How should we focus our attention?
--What additional skills and knowledge do we need to acquire?
--What is the highest and best use of each member of our team based on our personal strengths?                            
--What are our personal driving values and priorities?
--What is our purpose?
--What brings life meaning for each team member?
--Have we clearly defined specific service model roles?
--Are we most effectively utilizing the strengths of each team member?

--What worked best?
--What didn't work?
--What will we change?
--What will we do more of / less of?

Step #3: Simplify
3:00-4:30: Translate all goals into tactical action steps in a 90-day calendar.  Assign specific task responsibilities to individuals.
Here is an example of a full year planning calendar.  (It is included in The 7 Minute Life 90 Day Focus Kit.) When you see the framework of an entire year, you can gain the urgency of how quickly the next 90 days will pass. The critical nature of properly planning every day can be seen as you look at the brevity of the time available.

Plan your next 90-day off-site meeting at the meeting. It is important to put it on the calendar early so that it is a priority and everyone knows that the goals you set at this meeting wil be discussed at the next meeting. 

Now, it is time for the "Do"--Once you have spent time thinking and writing. It is time for the doing. Your strategic plan is only as good as your execution. 

It is our recommendation that you commit to spending 1% of your time planning and 99% of your time executing. There are 365 days in a calendar year, 1% of those days would mean you would spend 1 day per quarter hosting your 90 day offsite meeting. Strategic planning is hard, but executing without a plan is definitely harder.

Allyson Lewis is the author of, The Seven Minute Difference. She speaks on improving time management, increasing productivity and rediscovering purpose. Find out how you can own a copy of Allyson's new online video training program: www.The7MinuteLifeSystem.com, subscribe to her blog: www.AllysonLewis.com, and follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/allyson7minutes

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Allyson Lewis is the author of The Seven Minute Difference. She speaks about improving time-management, increasing productivity, and rediscovering purpose. Find out more about her new online video training program, The 7 Minute Life System, here. She also has a blog and a Twitter account.

The author is not an employee of Morningstar, Inc. The views expressed in this article are the author's. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Morningstar.

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