For your business, what are you doing six weeks from now?
Oh, you don’t know?
Like most shops, I’ll bet you probably are only concerned with the orders for the next day or two. And that’s it.
Here’s a trick I want you to try. Instead of being reactive, switch your thinking to becoming proactive. Think in terms of working backward from six weeks out to where you stand today.
What are the crucial things that need to happen?
For your company, what does that window of opportunity look like? Here are some things to consider:
Six Week Planning Is About Execution
Get it done.
That’s what it is all about. While it is may be easy to set some goals to hit for the year-end, the key to making them a reality to break them up into smaller chunks.
And you guessed it, that would be six-week mini-goals.
In fact, let’s divide that up even more. For the sake of discussion let’s look at what that means in terms of business days.
If each week is composed of five business days, that means we will have thirty business days to work with.
(Yes, I know some months have more and contain calendar events or holidays that will throw this off. Don’t be picky.)
It could be thirty smaller goals we can set and work toward.
Maybe that is thirty tasks we can delegate to other people.
What about three goals, where you work on it ten times each?
If we are looking out for the next six weeks, and break up the important stuff into thirty small tasks it doesn’t seem as daunting, does it?
Then if you succeed you get to eat thirty tacos as a reward.
Give Yourself The OK
Here’s a reality check though. You are going to fail somewhere along the way. Make a mistake. Something is going to happen. That six weeks goal? You might come up short.
It is ok.
Just try harder.
Many times in life, and in work, momentum stops because something doesn’t go as planned. Some folks use that as an excuse to simply stop what they are trying altogether.
However, if you pick yourself up off the ground and try again, sooner or later you’ll get better at it.
I know it is tough, especially if you are looking to change things. You want to improve, but there is a struggle. Life just gets in the way.
That’s why only working on something in short bursts can have a bigger impact than you think. Sure, you want to write a business plan for a new idea, or learn to run an embroidery machine or print CMYK on darks, or hit $20,000 in sales per day on average.
Maybe that one killer idea seems so daunting that you don’t know where to start.
Set aside ten or twenty minutes to do the first thing. Even if the result is crap.
Start that business plan with a basic outline, but when you stop for the day it is incomplete. Learn to thread that embroidery machine. Separate and burn some CMYK screens. Close a deal that’s worth $173.86.
It’s all good. But, plenty left to do for each task.
Each of those acts counts as step one on a thousand step journey.
If you don’t start, you will never finish. Starting is the hardest part.
Data Mine Your System
What were the greatest orders that were booked last year or the year before in the timeframe six weeks out from now?
While ideally, you should be already talking to these folks, if you haven’t said a peep yet the time is now to get on it.
The best way to increase your sales is, believe it or not, to ask for the sale.
When someone has already done business with your shop, it’s much easier to close the deal as they have had experience with you.
However, that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for the phone to ring or that text message to come in.
Not that I have to tell you this, but your world is filling up with competition for that same customer. Not just locally either.
All of those online mega-monster apparel decorators have to feed their pipeline too. Except that they have algorithm driven, automatic artificial intelligence marketing dollars at their fingertips.
Those nerds are whispering in your customer’s ear right now.
So, if you are not present on their radar, will it be any wonder why you don’t get that same repeat order from last year?
Look up your past order history.
Cull out the top 20% of the orders from previous years. Think things through and develop an outreach plan to bring them back into the fold. Don’t let the nerds win.
You should do this on a continual basis throughout the year.
What About Training?
In the next six weeks, what type of employee training can you implement?
And, why am I always talking about training anyway?
Because in the next six weeks your printer is going to be sick. Your shipping person will be out on vacation and that order has to go to Canada. You might even need some help with some order entry tasks so you can concentrate on bigger picture challenges.
Do you have people ready to step up?
Well, guess what should be scheduled soon?
Ok, that’s great! Except, what if that backup is sick too?
Yep, you guessed it. Training should never stop. There are always things that need to be learned in your business. Even when you are insanely busy, there are opportunities to schedule some teaching.
Here is a Skills Inventory Template for you to use in your shop. It’s a Google Sheet. You can add your employee names, and also change the core tasks as you see fit.
To use it, have both the manager and the employee rate themselves on the items on a scale from 0 – 10. Zero means they don’t have any clue, ten means they are a rockstar. Compare the ratings. Keep this as a master spreadsheet so you know who needs training with what core task.
Let’s say you want Fred to get some training in Shipping.
You could use the Skills Inventory to keep track of what he’s learned, but also create the time in the next six weeks to learn some skills. Make each lesson a 30-minute or so appointment on a calendar in advance.
This is how your employee training becomes an on-purpose event. Stop wishing your team had more skills and do something about it.
In The Next Six Weeks, We Need To…
Complete this sentence.
What are you prioritizing in your shop?
We all have big ideas and dreams. But how often have you thought about something and then a year later, nothing has even started yet?
If that sounds like you, don’t worry. You aren’t alone.
Here’s a metaphor I want you to read and think about.
Imagine a large glass bowl about the size of a t-shirt box. It’s empty.
This bowl represents your day.
Everything that you work on or touch during your day is some sort of rock that we are placing in the bowl. By the end of the day, it is going to fill up. There is only so much that will fit.
The critical things that have to happen, like your priorities, are large rocks the size of a cantaloupe.
Important tasks and business that you work on are rocks the size of your computer mouse.
Emails, questions from your employees, phone calls and other stuff are pebbles the size of peanut M&M’s.
All of the other distractions that happen all day are grains of sand.
Here’s what happens
Here is why your priorities are not being completed. In your glass bowl, what typically is going in is the grains of sand first. Then the pebbles, then the rocks the size of the computer mouse.
By the time you get around to placing your priority rocks, those cantaloupe-sized tasks, there isn’t any room for them in the bowl.
That is why they get pushed out. In fact, they get pushed out to the degree that you can’t even find them anymore even if you wanted to start working on them.
That priority ceases to matter.
Which is why a year or so later that great idea or important thing never happened.
Instead, grab that cantaloupe-sized rock and work on it first. In your day, that becomes the first thing you work on.
Close your door. Maybe go off-site or work from home. I know people that use a simple kitchen egg-timer and they work on that task for 30-minutes uninterrupted until the bell rings.
When you put those big rocks into the glass bowl first, all of the other smaller rocks and sand will fit around it.
So, try this technique for the next six weeks. Identify those important rocks and work on them first.
I know you can do it.
“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffet
“Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising up every time we fall.” – Confucious
“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” – Jim Rohn
Lost on how to build a pricing list that works?
Pricing is a fundamental skill. Are you doing it correctly?
Grab my eBook, “Price for Profit” and learn how to construct a screen-print pricing list that uses your shop’s math and production efficiency data.
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No more using the “average of the shops around me” method. Don’t wait six weeks to get the right answers!
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