Late last year, I snatched up two Moleskine binders.
In one, I put my client notes.
The other one I call My Sacred Business Binder.
It holds my plans, my reflections, my processes, my story, and my goals.
I think you need one, too.
I think you need one whether you have a baby business, a side business, or a I’ve-been-doing-this-for-years business.
I think you need one whether you keep it in a binder, or in an online folder or notebook, or in a Filofax.
None of that stuff matters.
What matters is what’s inside.
Here’s what my Sacred Business Binder includes:
- The When I Grow Up Coach handbook. I wrote this as something I’d give to a new hire, touching on my backstory (why and how I started my business), my brand strategy (values, vision, customer insight & drive, strategic statement, brand position/functioning/personality and tone of voice), Meet the Team (who I work with, what they do, how they can be contacted & their pics), team expectations, how to get in touch with me, and links to mind maps and docs that outline my process (setting up a client, general launch steps, social media flow, etc.). My handbook is 11 pages, but yours does not have to be as robust. I’ve given this exercise to clients who don’t even have a business yet – just an idea of one! – and have them write their Welcome Letter from their CEO (them!) to their first hire (also them!). As long as you hit on your backstory, company culture/expectations (i.e. “You are expected to only answer emails from 12-4pm Mon-Thurs, and take Fridays as Creative Play days”), and your company values then you’re golden.
- The final PDF from the branding work I did with a consultant last year. I want to be able to access it easily and often, ensuring that whatever I’m working on fits into what I uncovered here.
- Questions for the Upcoming Year. 3 pages of things to reflect on from 2015 and intend for 2016, like my Word of the Year, what worked and what didn’t, what I learned and what I want to learn, what would make this a successful year, financial goals and Big Crazy Dreams.
- My Offerings Inventory. I mentioned last week that I did this before my first session with my new business coach. I’ll tell ya how to snag the worksheets I used at the bottom of the post.
- My Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 goals. I only plan out my business goals and projects a quarter at a time, and this allows me to break down what I’m working on for the next 3 months – both The Big Goals (i.e. “Sell out It’s Business Time”) and the smaller action steps (i.e. “Call with Tiff and Erin every 10 days”). I modeled it off the Passion Planner Road Map, and you can see my Q1 goals here. I color the bubbles in yellow when that step has been achieved. You’ll notice, too, that something I planned for Q1 of this year didn’t happen. That’s OK! I just crossed it off and wrote “Move to Another Quarter.” Life is fluid, people, and you just don’t know what to expect!
- My monthly calendar pages. I print these from the Passion Planner PDF, and when I’m reflecting on the month that just happened I’m filling in the notable milestones and setting my priorities.
- Monthly reflection worksheets. I used the Passion Planner reflection sheets last year for this, and found them so helpful. I just wanted to add a few of my own questions that I wished were there!
- My Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 reflections. “Write down your thoughts from the last quarter. What are you proud of? What do you need to rethink? Why did or didn’t you meet your goals for the quarter? What about money stuff? Anything goes!” I freeform it here in what I want to make note of.
- The Stop List. I swiped this from Mayi Carles’ Life is Messy Planner from last year’s Multi-Passionate Must-Haves bundle sale (she’ll have the 2016 planner in this year’s bundle, which’ll be on sale mid-May for just 72 hours! Make sure you’re on my list to get the info as soon as it launches). I move it from one month to the next, adding to the list with what I no longer want to be doing myself – or at all!
- Yearly Money Tracker. Another of Mayi’s! I also move this from one month to the next, keeping track each month of Money Made, Money Spent and Total Money Made. It keeps my spending in front of my face better than anything else has.
- My Commitment Chart. I constantly want to do All The Things and wind up with a plate that is WAY too full. This chart helps me see what’s on my plate, and what’s to come, so I know if and when I can say Yes to anything else. There are 4 columns: Month, Running, Promoting and Planning. My Renaissance Soul needs to work on more than 1 thing at a time, but if I work on more than 3 than my brain explodes!
- 2016 Goal Page. You might’ve seen my Goal Card last year, and this is the same idea. I write down The Thing That’ll Bring In Money (i.e. “Clients”) and then set a goal next to it. Every week I fill in whatever materialized that week – like coloring an extra client number if I got a deposit. It’s fun!
- 2016 Ideas to Remember for Later sheet. ‘Cause seriously, one of them might make me a millionaire and I wanna make sure not to lose it!
- 2016 Miscellany. Because not everything has a place.
- Questions for the Year that Passed. This is waiting for me to fill out in December, and have similar questions to what I answered at the beginning of the year.
The most important part of your Binder, though, is to actually sit down with it regularly! If you wanna take your business seriously and keep your Nancy Drew hat on, then put weekly and monthly dates with yourself on your calendar right now. Fridays and Sundays are great reflecting days, and I spend about 15 minutes writing my wins & Yes/Nos in the Monthly Reflection as well as using my colored pencils to update the Quarterly Planner. I then use the first Monday of every month to reflect on the month prior, filling out the Monthly Reflection sheets, the Monthly Calendar pages, the Stop List, Money Tracker and Commitment Chart. If it’s the end of a quarter, I also do Quarter Reflection and Quarter Planning. It’s not as much work as it sounds! Just 2 hours a month can ensure that you have a pulse on your business and can really steer the ship, being pro-active as opposed to re-active. If you look at my end of the year post and say, “Wow! Michelle really knows her numbers!” this is why.
Another big important piece: Make your Sacred Business Binder work for you. Create what you need, and dump what you don’t. Use the medium that feels best for you. I used to do my reflections on Word documents, but I’ve been craving working on paper – so a binder was born! Just make sure that whatever you choose is appealing and attractive to you. That way, you’ll look forward to your planning/reflecting days instead of procrastinating on them. That’s one of the reasons I take out my colored pencils and washi tapes so frequently! It’s fun!
It’s so worth it, you guys.