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Run Your Quarter Like a CEO

by | Last updated: Jan 4, 2023 | Podcast

Every new year feels like a new chance to go after the big, audacious goals of your dreams. But as recent years have shown, you need to have adaptable plans for your business so that it can have the flexibility it needs while still getting the results you want. That’s why I love running my quarter through 90-day plans. Today, I talk about how to actually dig in and start creating these plans for your own business.

On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:

3:34 – Why go for 90-day plans? Entrepreneurs love setting big, ambitious goals, but it can be overwhelming.

7:27 – How do you break down big goals into more manageable chunks to fit your time, energy, and resources? You can make your best guess, or do this instead.

11:24 – As an example, I quickly walk through how you can launch a new group program within a year (or sooner).

16:03 – How do you actually create your first 90-day plan? I dig into it and discuss the kind of goals you want to focus on during this process.

19:50 – Start the process by looking over your sales and marketing with this 5-part marketing strategy framework.

27:01 – Most people think of this part of the framework when they think of marketing and can get it confused with the first step. I reveal why it’s different and necessary.

34:08 – What’s next after you have your systems in place? I discuss the difference between process vs. project goals and breaking them down in your 90-day plan.

38:38 – Asking yourself these questions as you work through your plan can really help ensure you avoid major challenges.

42:50 – I talk about fine-tuning your plan throughout the quarter without burning yourself out.

Show Links

If you're anything like me, the new year feels like a fresh start, a blank slate, a new chance to go after those big audacious goals for our lives and our business. But if the ups and downs of entrepreneurship have taught us anything, our plans need to be adaptable and adjustable. That's why I absolutely love turning my big business goals for the year into actionable checkoffable 90-day plans. That's exactly what we're talking about today. How do you dig in and start creating 90-day plans for more momentum in your business?

Are you ready to grow from stressed-out solopreneur to competent CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook, and I've spent more than 15 years helping women entrepreneurs sustainably scale their businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.

Hey there. Welcome back to Promote Yourself to CEO. I am so excited for this new year. As I was sitting down to figure out how I wanted to kick off the year on the Promote Yourself to CEO Podcast, I thought you know what, something that could be really helpful isn't more talk about goal setting because we already covered that here in the Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge, and by the way, you can still get the full five-day Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge at www.theceocollective.com/bye.

What I want to do instead is talk about how we turn those big 12-month goals into action plans. Then how do we take those action plans and turn them into checkoffable steps that we are checking off, that we are completing every quarter, every month, every week, and every day? Because just as much as I love planning, a plan without action is just a wish. We have to follow through. That's why I created the CEO Retreat. That's why I created The CEO Planner, and it's how we support our clients inside of The CEO Collective to implement the 90-day CEO operating system into their own businesses. That's what we're diving into this month.

Today I am kicking off a series on How to Run Your Business Like a CEO each quarter, month, week, and day. This series is all about how we're building in the implementation the accountability and the feedback loops in our business. We can not only create big plans but take action because that's the key to achieving those goals. If you're listening to the podcast, and this series is helpful for you, I have a favor to ask. Please communicate with me. Take a screenshot, post it over on your Instagram Stories. Tag me @racheal.cook. I want to hear from you about how this series is making an impact for you in your business.

Let's start out this conversation today by answering why all the obsession with 90-day plans? Honestly, it's because I am just like you, and us entrepreneurs, we love setting big ambitious goals for ourselves and it often comes very easily to us to dream pie in the sky about what goals we want to achieve and the businesses that we are aiming to build in the next 3, 5, or 10 years. But those massive goals, they can become overwhelming really quickly. When we look out 5 or 10 years, there is so much that is completely unknown, or they could completely change.

There are often so many steps involved with those big audacious goals that it can lead to feeling overwhelmed just trying to figure out where to even get started. Then often we just don't know what we don't know. We start diving in and try any and everything to see what sticks hoping that we will land on that silver bullet and that is suddenly going to skyrocket our business.

Now, I don't know about you, but I never want to try to hustle my way towards my goals in brute force, throw everything at it. I don't have time or energy for that. I would rather be more strategic and more sustainable by breaking those big goals down and reverse-engineering them into more manageable milestones. This is why 90-day planning is such a huge part of The CEO Collective. 90 days is short enough for us to stay focused but long enough of a timeframe to achieve substantial progress toward a bigger goal or vision.

I think of these as 12-week sprints toward the next milestone on the path to achieving my vision. Once your business begins running on the 90-day CEO operating system where you're building quarter after quarter, the results begin to stack up and that is where you'll see incredible momentum in your business. 90-day planning really allows us to break down our big annual goals into more manageable chunks. It allows us to be more agile, more nimble, and more flexible so that we can adapt and adjust as needed.

Experienced entrepreneurs know that the world can change quickly, business can change quickly, and life can change quickly. 90-day plans help businesses to be more resilient so that you can get back on track to achieving those goals more easily. In The CEO Collective, your 90-day plan is just one part of our five-part 90-day CEO operating system. We know that the plan itself is just the beginning. You must build the processes to follow through and then implement it into the DNA of your business. You build it into the operations, into the way that your business runs day to day, month to month, week to week, etc.

When you have both the 90-day plan and the operating system in place, you're putting a system in place that really provides the guardrails for your business. It helps you to stay focused instead of getting pulled off track because you're getting caught up looking at a different shiny object or letting a new idea take you off course from where you're ultimately trying to go.

Let's take an example of a big 12-month goal, then break it down into a 90-day milestone or a 90-day goal. One goal I hear often from my clients is that they want to build out a new signature program like a course or a group program that allows them to scale beyond one-to-one services, but this is often a goal that gets pushed back and back and back. It's always on the back burner because there are so many moving parts and steps. It is easy to get overwhelmed and not take any action toward it.

There's planning the content for the program. There's creating the content and the resources for the program. Then you've actually got to make that program available. You've got to go out there and do the marketing. Then you have to get sales in order to get clients to enroll in that program and you have to deliver that program. If you're someone who is already running a business, you're already taking care of clients, you're still running the day-to-day of your business, you have a lot going on, trying to get a brand new offer like that off the ground can feel like a massive undertaking.

This is why I end up talking to so many entrepreneurs who have been successful in their service-based businesses but they are telling me, “Yeah, I've been wanting to create a group program or an online course for years. I've been wanting to write a book for years. I've been wanting to start my podcast for years. It's just overwhelming because I don't know where to start and I'm completely overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get moving.” That's why in The CEO Collective, we help people chunk down their big goals into more manageable 90-day plans.

I think this is especially important if you are running your business and you just can't press pause on everything in order to make one of those goals happen. If you were to listen to so many of these so-called experts out there, they're saying things like, “You can create a brand new program in 30 or 60 days,” and I'm sitting here thinking to myself, “You could, but what about your existing clients, or continuing to make sales so that you can pay your mortgage or continuing your marketing? How do you do that if you already have a real running business on your hands? How do you create the bandwidth to get started?”

Many of us don't and that's why we end up feeling stuck in our business and defeated because we're not sure how we're going to create the bandwidth and how we're going to make these new things happen. Instead, I want you to ask yourself, “How can I break these big goals out into more manageable chunks that fit the bandwidth I currently have? How can I make meaningful progress towards these goals with the time, the energy, and the resources that are currently available?”

Now, this is hard when you're starting something from scratch when you're going after a goal that you have never gone after before, you've never done this before, because you don't know what it's going to take to achieve, you don't know how long it's going to take for you to achieve that goal to make that thing happen. We're all making just our best estimate of what it's going to take. This is where working with someone who has been there and done that is such a power move. Tapping into someone else's experience truly is one of the only shortcuts in business because they can give you insight into how long it will actually take to make that goal happen. They can help you to see the steps that you need to take in order to make that goal a reality.

Let's come back to how we might break down the one-year goal of creating and launching a new program. It could look like in the first 90 days, this entrepreneur is going to do all of the research and planning for this new group program. They're going to interview their existing clients. They're going to run some surveys to their existing audience. They're going to take the time during the first 90 days to do customer research and make sure they truly understand what problem people want to be solved. With that information, then they're ready to start mapping out their overall curriculum and the content they want to include in their program.

Then the next quarter, Q2 is creating the course, putting together all of the content, creating all of the worksheets, writing out all the scripts, recording the videos, putting it together in whatever platform you are using to deliver that group program. Then the following quarter, now we're in Q3, it's marketing and launching the program to their first paying clients for this specific offer. Now, this marketing and launch of this new offer could be a series of content, maybe blog posts, email newsletters, podcasts, whatever content platform you're using, dripping out a series of content that leads to an open enrollment period where then you can invite your community to join that program.

Then you've got your first group of clients going through this program for the very first time. You have to spend time paying attention in delivering that program over the next six to eight or however many weeks with those new clients to really make sure that the program is helping them get the results that they're looking for. That's one way to break down the big goal of creating and launching a new group program within a year, keeping in mind the constraints that you might have as an entrepreneur, who is actively running your business and working with existing clients at the same time.

Maybe you're hearing me break that down where each quarter has a specific focus and thinking, “Well, a year seems like such a long time. Can't someone move faster than that?” Yes, absolutely. You could absolutely move faster than that if you have the bandwidth available. Let's say you decided to just test your idea by launching it first. You're going to pre-sell that new offer, and then only follow through and build the program after you've made sales on it, after you had people pay you money saying, “Yes, I want this,” and then you create it and deliver it to those clients.

That's a valid option. That is how I have built so many different offers, including my very first online program. I launched it and sold it within a three-month timeframe. I focused on marketing and selling that online course and then each week I was actively creating the content and then delivering it to my clients. I would have to say after being on that bandwagon of pre-selling and then creating, it can be really exhausting to approach it that way. This is why understanding your situation, your context is so important when we're planning.

I know so many clients who would not want to pre-sell something and then have that anxiety of “Now I've got to create this thing.” I know so many other people who are the complete opposite. We have to determine what makes the most sense for you, how you're wired, what your strengths are, and what is actually going to work within the bandwidth, the capacity, and the resources you have available.

As you're thinking about breaking down your big 12-month goals into 90-day goals, keep this in mind. We have to make sure we're breaking things down and making it more manageable so that it fits within the scope of everything else that is happening. The first half of this episode is about why 90-day plans are so powerful. Now let's dig into actually creating your first 90-day plan. Literally, I have my CEO Planner in front of me. I'm going to walk through this process with you so that you can do this for yourself.

If you don't have your own copy of the 90-Day CEO Planner, go get one. It is available at theceocollective.com/planner. This is a tool I created because I was literally using this process for years and then started putting my clients through this self-accountability process to stick to their plans. I know not only from my own experience but from years of clients using this process that it delivers results. It will help you not just to create your plan but to work your plan and give you the self-accountability tools you need to stay focused and actually follow through.

You can still do this even if you don't have a planner or it's on its way to you. Our first step in this process is to document our 12-month goals. We want to make sure that we have a clearer picture of what we're trying to accomplish within a one-year timeframe. Something I want to make really clear though, as we're talking about 12-month goals is I don't want you to only think about your revenue goal. This is where I see a lot of people struggling in planning and implementation, and ultimately they don't get momentum in their business. It's because their goals are all these aspirational results but they don't know how they're going to get those results.

An example of an aspirational goal, my business generates $350,000 a year in gross revenue, or my Instagram account has 25,000 followers. These things are great, but these are not action-oriented, they're not checkoffable goals. We want our goals to be action-oriented and not aspirational. Now if you completed the Plan Your Best Year Ever Challenge, then you also got access to the Get Paid Calculator, and again, if you haven't gone through that challenge, it is still available on demand at theceocollective.com/bye. All these links I'm talking about will be in the show notes.

But I created the Get Paid Calculator so that you can get the clarity you need about your personal income goals, take those to create your revenue goals, then reverse engineer how many sales you need to make, at what price point in order to achieve that goal. All of these steps are incredibly helpful. They will give you so much clarity. But this is where most people stop when they're doing their planning. They never actually put a clear strategy in place for how they're going to get there.

In your 90-day plan, we're setting actionable goals over the next 12 months. These goals are based on the systems you're putting in place in your business that ultimately will help you to achieve that revenue goal. But truly these goals are about committing to and implementing the strategy and the systems that will get you there. This means you don't start your planning with all of the creative ideas of what you want to do. I know you have a list of ideas of things you want to do. They've been on your business bucket list because I have them too. Coming up with new ideas is always fun, but they can also be shiny objects that distract you from a more sustainable business.

If your goal is to sustainably scale your business, we want to start by making sure there are three key systems in place: your marketing system, your sales system, and your delivery system. Let's walk through this. If you have listened to me in the podcast for a while, then you have heard me talk about this five-part framework. This will make such a massive difference in your business. If consistency, if predictable profits is what you're looking for, focusing on these action steps that you'll take and each of these five areas I promise will make such a massive impact for you.

The first part of this process is Attract. What are you doing to get your business in front of brand new people, people who do not know who you are, who don't know you, don't know your brand, don't know your offers? These people are brand new. There are really about three ways we can do this. One, we can focus on search. We can do search engine optimization, so that when your potential clients are going to Google or YouTube, wherever they're searching for answers to their questions, your content and your information comes up.

Search is powerful. It is great. I will say this is more of a long-term strategy. It does take a while to start to see results. It is not the fastest way to get brand-new people into your business. But it can be one of the most sustainable long-term strategies because it does compound on itself over time. The next is what I would call other people's audiences. Other people's audiences could be going to networking events, that could be guest teaching in someone else's program, being a speaker at an event, getting interviewed, being in the media, getting referrals. All of these strategies are about getting in front of someone else's audience, someone else's community and they're introducing you.

Now, this is personally my favorite. It's my favorite because I feel like it's a great way to position yourself and showcase your expertise. It is my favorite. I'm always doing interviews and I'm doing a ton of speaking. It's something that does take time to see results from so this will not bring you clients in one month. It is long-term. You're consistently showing up in front of these people. But if you're someone who's wanting to get known as an expert, I really believe it's one of the most powerful because it helps you build that credibility and that trust. The expert has been interviewed on podcasts, on TV, or in the news, it's powerful.

Now the final Attract strategy is advertising. This is the only one that is specifically paid. The other two are primarily your time and your energy unless you are paying someone else to help you implement those. But ads can be a very fast way to get in front of brand-new people. Of course, it costs money. It takes time and it takes energy. It takes tweaking, it takes really fine-tuning and testing so that it will work for you. Every year, you want to ask yourself, “What is my core Attract strategy?”

You don't need to do all three. In fact, if you're just getting started putting these types of systems in place, I don't want you to try to do all three because you'll just get overwhelmed. Pick one that you're going to commit to for the full year. For example, your Attract goal could be that you want to be interviewed on 12 podcasts over the next 12 months.

The next part of this marketing strategy is Engage. Let's say a new potential client heard you on that podcast interview. Now, what's the next step? They're going to check you out on your website, and you're going to offer them some sort of free offer in order to exchange contact information, usually their email address. This is that first mini-micro commitment from those brand-new people. What we're actually doing here is getting them to proactively give permission by saying, “Hey, I want to continue hearing from you. I want to learn more about what you're doing.” They're saying yes to now building the relationship with you.

What does an Engage system look like? This could be a system where someone lands on your website, they sign up for your free resource, and then they receive a series of emails where you're sharing that free resource, introducing yourself and your work, and then inviting that new potential client to dig deeper into your content or take the next step towards working with you. Or someone could land on your website, complete an application to book a consult, or request a proposal and you can have an automated system that allows them to book that appointment. They are automatically emailed a new client information packet, they're automatically emailed additional content, and they're automatically sent confirmation prior to the call to ensure they actually show up.

This Engage system is essential because 99% of the people who find a website for the first time aren't going to buy the first time. Just think about how many people you might be losing out on as potential clients. Engage system helps to kickstart that relationship. Those who are the most interested about working with you, they can take that step. It's made it really, really easy for them to take another step closer towards working with you.

My favorite part about an Engage system is this becomes one of the marketing systems that truly can be ‘set it and forget it.’ You don't have to think about it once you've created it and set it up. For example, I have the Get Paid Calculator available on my website. People go to a specific landing page, they sign up, enter their name and email for it. They get access to it and the welcome email series is automatically delivered. They're going to get a series of emails from us to introduce me, to share more about my work, to let them dig deeper into some of our best content, and then invite them to take the next step. Yes, we absolutely get sales directly from that welcome email sequence.

As you're setting your 12-month goals, I want you to ask yourself, “Do I have an Engage system in place? Are there enough potential clients currently signing up for this baby step towards learning about me and my offers to help me achieve my goals?” If not, we need to create the system or look at how we can upgrade your existing Engage system to get better results.

The next step is Nurture. Now, this is what most of us think of when we're thinking of marketing. When I hear people who are saying, “I'm showing up on social media five days a week, I'm sending out my newsletter every Tuesday,” that's all Nurture marketing. Nurture is, again, essential to your marketing strategy. But I want you to keep in mind that this is what's going out to people who already know you. They already know who you are. They're already in your business ecosystem in some way. They're in your community and are following you on social media. They're on your email list.

They're in your database, you're helping them to prepare to make a buying decision through your content with your Nurture marketing. This is where you're building the know, the like, the trust with potential clients. This is where you showcase your experience and your expertise. This is where your potential clients learn more about you, your methodology, and your offers. This is not the same as Attract. There might be overlap occasionally.

Sometimes you can create a blog post that is SEO optimized and gets out there in front of new potential clients. But when you're creating it that very first time, it's going to your existing community first so you have to keep that in mind. Attract, brand-new people who don't know who you are, and Nurture, people who know who you are. We want to make sure that we have a Nurture system that helps us to show up consistently and strategically.

Because just going live on Instagram multiple times a week without any game plan about what you're talking about or the purpose of that content, what you're leading up to sell your audience, without that kind of strategy, you will not achieve your goals. You're just again throwing spaghetti at the wall, sharing any and everything that comes to mind instead of specifically leading people through a process where they are learning about how you work, you're answering their questions, you're helping them see if they're in the right place if this offer that you haven't even announced yet but if you are the person who is going to help them solve that problem and get to the next place. We want to make sure that we have a real strategy and we have a real system for what we're doing with our Nurture marketing.

As you're setting your 12-month goals, what is your Nurture system? Do you have a process in place to nurture the relationships with your potential clients through personally reaching out to them and connecting in a high-touch way or through creating content that educates, provides results in advance, and helps them decide if they want to learn more about working with you?

The next part of this five-part process is Invite. Of course, this is making the ask, inviting people to become paying clients. What does that system look like? Yes, you need to have goals about when and how you are inviting people to work with you, so that again, you know exactly what your action items are going to be in order to help you get that result.

For example, let's say your Invite goal is that you are opening enrollment quarterly to your signature program. You're going to open enrollment to an interest list or a waitlist, people who have signed up to hear about this specific offer. You announced that enrollment is open, you're going to host a live training session like a webinar in order to share insight and information about your offer to that waitlist. Then after you host that training, you follow up with sales emails to a sales page. That would be an Invite system.

Or maybe you’re more of a high-touch service-based business, you have an Invite goal of booking for consults a month. Your Invite system is set up from booking the consult to the confirmation to the consult itself to the proposal, and the follow-up and you're very, very clear about what each step that potential client is going to go through to become a paying client.

As you document your 12-month goals, I want you to ask yourself, “Do I know exactly what the invitation system looks like in my business? Have I optimized it to make sure that I'm consistently making sales?”

Then finally, Delight. Delight is the unsung hero of marketing. This is how we get referrals. We get rave reviews, we get repeat business. We want to make sure we are making it a priority to deliver not just what we promised, but an incredible customer experience. We want to think about how we can make this experience something that is buzzworthy, something that people will actually go out into the world and talk to their friends or their family about.

Again, we want to have an action plan so that we are clear about what we are doing to delight our clients this year. As you consider your Delight system, do you have a clear onboarding process for all of your clients? Do you have clear workflows in place? Do you have clear communication touchpoints and check-ins throughout your process of working together? Or are you winging it and just checking in, just communicating, just creating the wheel over and over and over again?

If not, then documenting your system from onboarding to wrapping up with each and every one of your paying clients is a huge 12-month goal to focus on. Again, until you have these five systems in place, or you have someone on your team who is fully responsible for them, I would recommend aligning your 12-month goals to creating those systems.

Goal number one is your Attract goal. Goal number two is your Engage goal. Goal number three is your Nurture goal. Goal number four is your Invite. Goal number five is your Delight, and you're committing to the action steps you are taking to put those systems in place. Once you have rinse and repeat strategy and systems for those five core areas, then it's time to play. You have built the engine now that will keep your business moving forward. It will compound and it will get momentum over time.

Once those are in place, then you can add on the fun creative projects. But I'll be the first to tell you that focusing on that strategy first, Attract, Engage, Nurture, Invite, Delight, and setting your goals according to each of those, has been the key to sustainably scaling my own business and to helping hundreds of my clients scale theirs as well.

Next, we want to take your 12-month goals and then we're going to start to break them down into 90-day goals. There are some goals that will be process goals because they are working the systems that you have created. For example, my primary Nurture goal is my weekly podcast, Promote Yourself to CEO. My goal is 52 episodes of Promote Yourself to CEO per year. That's an episode per week, all year long. That is an ongoing process. It makes it really easy for me to chunk that down into 90 days because I know if I'm doing 52 episodes a year, I'm doing 13 episodes every 90 days. It's a process, it's checkoffable.

Every single quarter, I'm going to have a line in my planner that says, “Record 13 episodes of Promote Yourself to CEO.” Really publish 13 episodes of Promote Yourself to CEO, and the reason it'll say publish is because over time, you build assets in your business and you don't have to constantly be creating new content. Now we are building out episodes that we can republish multiple times on purpose because it's more efficient. It's a better way to leverage all of our resources.

Now that it's so rinse and repeat, it frees up bandwidth, it frees up my time, and that's a total win. Once your process goals are rinse and repeat, again, then you have time to add in a different type of goal and these are going to be project goals. Project goals are similar to what we were talking about in the first half of this episode. The goal of creating a new group program is a project goal. You're chunking it down into smaller portions. Q1, research and planning. Q2, create the program content. Q3, market and sell the program. Q4, deliver the program.

Once you go through that whole process, it's done. You have a program that you've fully created. You've created the marketing assets, the sales assets, you've created the delivery process, and now the project is done. You can rinse and repeat. If you're looking at your annual goals, and it is an ongoing process in order to hit the annual goal, then your quarters are going to look very rinse and repeat, which is awesome.

This is how you build a flywheel in your business where you create systems, run systems, and it just keeps going and keeps growing. You're building momentum. If you're adding in project goals, I encourage you to make sure you've implemented a rinse-and-repeat Attract, Engage, Nurture, Invite, Delight system first so that you don’t lose momentum. This is where I see entrepreneurs stay stuck for years because they don't put those types of systems in place and they keep dropping the ball which means they hit dry spells, they hit the feast or famine, they slow down, or they are sitting there underneath this revenue plateau they can't break free from because there's nothing really running behind the scenes to keep that business moving forward.

I'm off my soapbox now. Once you have documented your 90-day goals, then we want to take the time to brainstorm all of the action steps that go into making that goal happen. Now, this is something that again, the more you do this, the more systematized your business becomes, the more experience you have doing these things in your business, the faster and easier it's going to get. That's why right now, I can sit down and I don't even have to brainstorm all of the action steps to produce 13 episodes of Promote Yourself to CEO every single quarter. I just do it.

I can sit down and make it happen right now. I don't even have to pull up anything. I know what's going to happen. We have a clearly defined process that we follow to produce every single episode. It's so rinse and repeat. I mean it is amazing. I can't express to you how often it is that I sit down and go, “Oh my gosh, I'm so glad I took the time to put the system in place. Now I don’t have to work so hard.” But if you’re doing it for the first time, you're doing the hard work upfront. You're building the systems upfront.

As you're building these systems, you're doing it for the first time, you need to ask yourself some questions as you figure out all of these specific action steps. For each goal, you might ask yourself, “What support do I need? Do I need help from somebody? Do I need to outsource something or do I need to delegate something? Do I need to hire someone?”

You might ask yourself, “Is this something I know how to do? Do I have to actually go do some research? Do I have to read a book? Do I have to attend a training? What do I need to do in order to make sure I know how to do the thing that I know I want to do? Again, do I need to hire someone to do this for me? Do I need to hire someone to teach me how to do it, to coach me through so I follow up and follow through, or just hire someone to do the thing for me? Do I need a specific tool or technology to achieve this goal? Do I need to upgrade any habits in order to achieve this goal? What do I need to put in place? What else do I need to put in place to make sure I have the time, the energy, and the resources to achieve this goal? What systems or processes do I need to achieve this goal?”

Asking yourself these types of questions can help you make sure that you don't run into challenges as you're working through your action plan because you've really thought from multiple angles, multiple degrees to figure out every single action step you need to take. Honestly, this is where working with an experienced coach can make such a massive impact.

This is why our clients inside of The CEO Collective get amazing momentum going in their business because they don't have to figure out the answers for all the action steps on their own. For a lot of the goals are going after and a lot of the systems they're implementing, like the Attract, Engage, or Invite, Delight system, we already have those resources, trainings, checklists, and step-by-step breakdown of what needs to happen to implement and achieve that goal so it accelerates the process.

When I'm going through this process, I will literally sit down with my goals, I will answer the questions I just shared, then I will brainstorm every single action step I think I need to take in order to make that goal happen. I want to let you know this is not the edit stage. When you're sitting down to brainstorm, you are just getting all of the action steps out of your head and down on paper. This is one reason I love post-it planning because I will take a single post-it note and then write one action step per post-it in a big brainstorming session.

By the end of it, I have got these little stacks of post-its, one stack per goal of all of the steps I need to take in order to make that goal happen. Once I finish that brainstorming session, then we can edit, then we can edit down. I call this your 30, 60, 90. Your 30, 60, 90 as a first step to starting to lay these action steps out into a timeline and give each action step a deadline for completion.

This 30, 60, 90 process is incredibly helpful because it's really easy to front-load your planning by attempting to do everything in the first few weeks. But then you're in week two, week three and you start to feel like you've taken on too much. You're a little overwhelmed and you get that dreaded feeling of “Well, I'm already behind, I might as well give up.” We want to avoid that. We're going to chase ourselves. We're not going to set a goal of running a marathon and then get up on day one week one and run a marathon. We're going to get up and try to do our first mile. We have to pace ourselves as we go after goals, otherwise, we will burn ourselves out.

Before I start splitting out all of the action steps over a three-month period, my first 30 days, second, 30 days, last 30 days, I'm going to ask myself some questions because again, we have to make sure each time we're going after these 90-day goals, we're still running our business. We have to take care of other things that have to happen in our business. We're still doing the marketing, we're still making sales. We're still taking care of our clients. We still are keeping the business running while we're going after these goals. This is where we can begin to ask ourselves some questions and then fine-tune how we're going to put a timeline to these specific action steps.

In the CEO Planner, we have this 30, 60, 90 process in there in the planning portion, so that you can do this right on your planner, which is amazing. But even if you don't have a planner yet, here are the questions I would ask myself. The first question is what time off do you need? Yes, time off. You need time off, you need time to mentally put your business to the side and focus on the rest of your life.

You need time to rest. You need time to relax, you need time to play and enjoy your life. I promise, the results of taking more time off more consistently are so worth it. Not just for your business but for your own mental health, your physical health, your relationships, your well-being, the quality of life that you want, it is so worth it.

Make sure you're blocking out in your calendar the dates that you want to take off that you're unplugging from your business. This could be long weekends. Do you have birthdays or anniversaries you want to take off? Do you want time for a vacation or a staycation? Are there holidays you're celebrating? Are there any other times that you want to take a break from your business? Go ahead and write them in your calendar in advance.

I will sometimes just take times in my calendar where I block time out even if I don't have a plan for what I'm going to do with that day because I know that my default setting is to overwork, to overthink. I need to plug in time so that I can get myself to take a mental break. It really helps me to make sure I'm also building in a little bit of buffer in my plan and in my schedule so that I never get that feeling of rushed or overloaded.

Next in my 30, 60, 90 which is really the first 30 days, the first 60 days, the first 90 days, you're breaking down 90 days one month at a time, the first thing here is what am I selling this month? Now, one thing I hear from a lot of entrepreneurs is, “I'm selling the same thing every single month. I just sell the same offer, the same service over and over again.” Great, awesome. What are you doing to sell that every single month? Are you doing the same thing again and again and again? Is that working? Is it getting the results you want? Are you creating a different invitation strategy at different times of the year? Great. Let's write that down.

Because when we write this down and have it in front of us, we will be more consistent in following through and actually taking the action steps that are required in order to see the result which is the sales you're looking for. That's if you are selling the same thing all year round. But what if you have a different offering every month, or you're alternating offerings every month? You want to sit down and say, “What am I selling and how am I selling this thing? What is going into that invitation process? What are the action steps I need in order to sell this particular thing?” The more invitations you make, the more sales you will make.

Now, sometimes I will hear from clients who say, “Well, I don't need to make sales every single month. My business doesn't really work that way. I have more long-term contracts, or I already have retainer clients and I just don't have any more capacity to take on more clients at this point.” Cool, fine. We need to always look at the lens of anything I share with you through the context of your business.

But also, I want you to keep in mind that contracts end and attrition, even with retainer clients, long-time clients is totally normal so we want to make sure we’re looking ahead if we have any data about that, if we know when those things are coming to an end so that there's not a big gap when that client falls off and finishes with you, we don't want to wait until they're absolutely done and the revenue has stopped in the door of the business before you're going to make invitations for more people to fill that gap. We need to make sure we're still moving ahead.

Then as we're looking at our 30, 60, 90, we're looking at marketing next, what actions are you going to take in your Attract, Engage, and Nurture marketing for the next 30, 60, 90 days. Month one, month two, month three of our 90-day plan.

For example, if your 12-month Attract marketing goal is to have 12 podcast interviews, then each month your goal would be to have one to two interviews on the calendar. Now, why would you do one to two instead of just one? Because inevitably, you will have months where there's zero. If you haven't built in the space to still achieve your goal even if you have a month where you got zero interviews, then you won't hit your goal. We're actually going to set our goals and our actions up to overshoot our goals a little bit. That way we're more likely to get the results we're looking for.

Another example here is if your 12-month Nurture marketing goal is to publish 52 episodes of your podcast, then each quarter I want to publish 13 episodes, and that means that my 30, 60, 90, depending on the day that I'm releasing my podcast, some months will have four Thursdays and some months will have five so I will set that goal accordingly based on my publishing schedule. This is how you start building momentum month over month because you're running these types of marketing systems.

When I go through my CEO Planner, and I've mapped out my next 30, 60, 90 days, I can see in one page what my priorities need to be this month in my business. This helps me to make sure that we are consistently attracting, engaging, nurturing, inviting, and delighting our clients. We have put the systems in place and we are running the systems actively. We are not stopping and starting and stopping and starting because you can't scale if you keep pumping the brakes in our business.

Once I've mapped all these things out, I go back to my goals one last time and I say, “Is there anything else I'm working on that wasn't already answered in the 30, 60, 90 that I want to make sure I'm on track for? What milestones do I need to hit for those additional goals?” I plug those into my 30, 60, 90 as well. This is great to help you chunk down those big creative goals.

For example, if you had a creative project, our example from before, creating a group program, and you've decided for this first quarter, it's all about getting the ball rolling with the research, then you know that this quarter is all about client research. You're going to interview your clients, you're going to talk to your audience, you're going to start mapping out your content, all of that.

Let's break it down to what your 30, 60, 90 could be for that goal. Your first 30 days could be all about interviewing your clients, doing surveys, talking to your audience, your community, doing the client/customer research, to make sure you're on the right track, and to get more clarity and insights into what people need, what people want, what the problem is or what they perceive the problem is, what results they're looking for.

You get learned so much about what they actually will pay for when you take the time to do this upfront. Then the next 60 days, so month two is going through the research. It's actually analyzing it, pulling out the themes, mapping out the key topics that you know you need to focus on in your group program. Then by the time you get to 90-days, you'll have momentum at your back and now you'll actually have the momentum you need, the research to back it up, the analysis to help you figure out exactly what that curriculum is going to look like, and then you can start putting together the slide decks, videos, audios, and workbooks, etc. These little milestones are what help you to stay accountable to moving forward and achieving those 90-day goals.

Once you've gone through this process, you really have everything you need to put together your 90-day plan. Now I tend to be a pen-to-paper type of gal and that's why I have The CEO Planner. Using my planner and my post-it with all my action steps, I start plugging everything into our project management system. This is really the final step.

Once your plan is together, you need to make sure, especially if you have people on your team or you're going to be hiring people on your team, you need to have your plan where everyone on the team can see what's going on. They need to be able to know what the tasks are, who's in charge of them, and what the deadlines are. They need to know the information and the access to resources, the systems, the templates, the graphics, the tools, the assets, in order to actually do the thing you're asking them to do. You want to make sure it's all actually in place so that it is super easy to implement.

There you have it. That was basically a condensed less-than-an-hour version of what we do together at our quarterly CEO retreats. This is what we do with The CEO Planner, and I'm here to tell you there's no magic to this.

I think the biggest part that surprises people when we walk through this process is when I get them focused, not on the aspirational goals of I want to make this much revenue, but instead get focused on the checkoffable goals, committing to the action steps that align with their overall strategy, because when we can get people consistently implementing these specific things, when we can get them implementing that five-part framework: Attract, Engage, Nurture, Invite, Delight, that's when we get to consistent clients. That's when we get to consistent cash flow. That's where we create real momentum with scalable systems because we're committing to the exact action steps that will put that strategy into play.

If you enjoyed this episode, I want to hear from you. First, if you haven't left a review for Promote Yourself to CEO, I want to give you a little incentive. This January, I am running a contest. Every person who leaves a review for Promote Yourself to CEO on Apple Podcasts or iTunes, if you're old like me, you will be entered to win a year's supply of The CEO Planner. That's right. You will have four 90-day CEO Planners, and this will help you to implement what I am sharing with you this month on the podcast.

All you have to do to enter is go over to Apple Podcasts, leave us a rating and review for Promote Yourself to CEO, and then take a screenshot to share on Instagram and tag me @racheal.cook. This is especially important if you are outside of the US and you want to leave a review because we only see reviews from people in the US which is a little quirk of the podcast but whatever. I will be looking forward to seeing from you. Tag me @racheal.cook on Instagram. I will be accepting everyone who leaves us a reading review through the end of January and we will pull out a winner at the beginning of February and notify you via Instagram DM.

If you want to actually get one of these tools, the 90-Day CEO Planner, this is the month to enter the giveaway and get this plan in place in your business. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you’ve enjoyed it, stay tuned. Next episode, we are talking about how do we stay accountable to our 90-day plan every month, week, and day. I'll see you there.