We’re well into the last quarter of 2014 and if you own a business there’s no better time than the present to be looking at 2015.  What are your short- and long-term goals for the new year?  What’s working, and what’s not?  Where did 2014 fall short for you?  What changes to your business will help propel your success?  Sometimes there are opportunities that can be missed when you’re focused inward.  Lift your head up, and take some time to brainstorm with mentors over coffee, sit with your business consultant and blue sky, or find a nook all by yourself in the quiet for contemplation.  Whatever works, it’s your own personal journey.

Here are some tips and tricks that have worked for me:

  1. Plan to plan:  schedule time, set the mood, location, food and beverage that will best suit your reflection and creativity. Whether it’s late night in your quiet home, or mid-morning in your favourite coffee shop – do what work best for you.  Prepare your reports you may need to review (i.e. analytics and financials), grab a notebook specifically for planning, and go for it!
  2. Break it up:  don’t sit down once for an hour or two and expect to have all the answers.  Multiple sessions allow for contemplation and deeper thought. Switch it up by doing it alone and with others if applicable.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: an outside perspective, especially when reviewing the past fiscal year, can open your eyes to things that you may not have seen otherwise.  This can be in hiring a professional coach or consultant, or in just asking someone out for a coffee (be sure to tell them what the purpose of it is though so they can be prepared).
  4. Write it down: it doesn’t need to be a lengthy business plan… often a one-pager is your best bet.  Clearly outlining your goals, and how you’re going to get there can be both a valuable tool to keep you focused through the year, and a way to motivate yourself to reach beyond your comfort zone.