Are you planning for success?

By Justine Clay

Have you heard that saying “if you fail to plan you plan to fail”?  Brutal in it’s simplicity isn’t it? But somehow I find it oddly liberating. Here’s why; some people are natural born planners for whom developing and reviewing 5-year plans is fun.  I’m not on of those people. Planning, like business and marketing know-how, was a discipline I learned to do well (and even love) over time. That said, poring over excel spreadsheets and making projections are never going to be my thing, so I had to figure out a way to make it creative and fun.


As a business coach for creative professionals, I’ve learned that many of my clients feel the same way and, as a result, don’t have a plan.  Since we’ve established that not having a plan isn’t a viable business option, I’d like to share my tried and true method for creating a plan for success.  It’s a combination of my own trial and error, what I’ve found works for my clients and the Passion Planner method.  It’s easy and fast to create, fun to work on and, most importantly, sets your creative business up for success.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Go shopping (I told you you’d like this method!)
When we write (rather than type) our goals we infuse them with intention. I like to write my goals in a leather journal, so that I can add sections for notes, images, ideas and anything else that will inspire me to stay the course. So your first step is to go shopping for a good quality planner that feels good write in and carry around with you.

Set aside a few hours of quiet time to let your creative mind roam and map out your plan. Mindset is everything, so you don’t want this to be a chore. Go for a walk or dance to your favorite song….just do whatever it takes to come to the table feeling full of positive energy.


2) Write down goals for the following:

Write down every wish for things you’d like to be, do or have in this lifetime.  You want to go big here, so don’t hold back. Think of how you’d like to be remembered, what your business does for others and what it does for you (in terms of fulfillment and the lifestyle it affords). Try not to make the focus only money, but rather, what money can do for you. So instead of saying “I want to make a million dollars”, you might say “ I wish to….”:

  • have an apartment in the city and a house in Upstate New York
  • travel 3 months of the year
  • have a thriving business that affords me freedom, provides the lifestyle I want and allows me to invest and give to others.

Three years
Now drill down to where you see your business and life in 3 years. Examples might include:

  • I have a business partner, assistant and reliable collaborators I can call upon for any project.
  • I have 3 (or as many as you want) high-quality projects going on at any one time
  • I have a wildly successful video blog that consistently attracts new ideal clients to me.

One year
Drill down even further. Perhaps these goals might include:

  • Generate 100K in income
  • Work only with ideal clients
  • Have a successful video blog that attracts new prospects to me all the time

Ninety day
In my opinion, this is the most powerful goal.  Ninety-day goals give you long enough to sink your teeth into a significant project, but not so long that you get distracted by all the options (which often leads us to do nothing). 

3) Pick your priority
Now, go through each list and circle the one thing that will have the most significant impact in your business right now. This will be your one main focus for the ninety days.

4) Create action items
A plan without action means nothing so, on a separate page in your planner list all the things you’d need to do to make that happen. For example, if you’re intention is to create a newsletter that will attract your ideal clients to you, your list might look something like this:

  • Go through list of clients, people who have expressed an interest in working with you, colleagues, friends and family and export their contacts into a data base such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact.
  • Create a template for newsletter to include content section, perhaps a personal note, bio, contact info and unsubscribe clause. If design isn’t your thing another action item would be to hire a designer to do this for you.
  • Create an editorial list of possible content. This should follow the 80/20 rule : 80% conversation and 20% promotion.
  • Create a calendar for each newsletter so you stick to it
  • Write your first newsletter
  • Put each action step into the calendar and take it one step at a time.

5) Get support
The last step is get support around achieving your goals. When we’re left to our own devices on this we can go one of 2 ways: we make excuses and let ourselves off the hook or we berate ourselves, but still don’t do it. The best way I know to stay on track is join or start an accountability group. Announcing your intentions and (gently) holding one another’s feet to the fire is incredibly powerful. Try it.

If you’re on board with getting a plan in place, but would like some one-on-one support, I’d love to work with you.  I have just 2 spots left for my Half Day Solution To A Client Packed September offer.  


In this one-on-one half day private coaching session we will

  • Define your goals for 2015/2016
  • Identify the money generating opportunities in your business and where you’re wasting time and energy
  • Prioritize your goals to achieve maximum results in the shortest time i.e. money generating opportunities first, long-term goals second.
  • Break goals down into manageable steps
  • Create an action plan and get it in your calendar


The remaining two dates are:
Friday, July 17, 2015
Friday, July 24, 2015

To reserve your spot, email me at with “Client packed September” in the subject line. I can’t wait to help you achieve your goals!




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