Plan your success with 7 proven strategies

The year 2009 was not the best year for most people. “Now is the time to refresh your thinking and getstrategy ‘unstuck,’ ” GinaMaria Jerome, CEO of The Leadership Guild, told a sold-out crowd in a recent Knowledge Is Power breakfast workshop, presented by Jacksonville Small Business Advantage. Jerome shared seven proven success strategies with the group. She said she has used them with clients, but more important, she knows they work, because she has used them herself as a small business owner.

1. Frame your mind. What you conceive and believe, you can achieve, said Jerome, quoting Napoleon Hill. “If you don’t  believe you can do it, nothing will matter, she said. It all begins with your mindset, where you are coming from because where you are takes you to where you want to be.”

2. Set a bold money goal. You shouldn’t work just for the money, she said, but money is the means to achieve the things you really want in life. Emulate the big companies, she suggested; they set annual financial projections. When you do this, she said, “Be bold; be specific; and be real for you. Go for the gusto this year. Make it really big. You’ll get excited and so will your team.”

When you set a bold money goal she encouraged doing it in two ways: an annual goal, and a 90-day goal. The short-term goal will keep you focused, help you track your progress, and see the rewards of your efforts. These 90-day goals keep you moving by maintaining the momentum to propel you forward throughout the year toward your annual goal.

3. Create a strategic plan. Jerome explained that a strategic plan is not the same as a business plan. A business plan sets out specific results that are to be accomplished by the business. A strategic plan incorporates your vision and your mission, and describes what you are, what you can be, and who benefits from the business.

As you create your strategy plan, give yourself permission to think creatively and find innovative ways to earn revenues. One way to create this plan is with a mind map: In the center of a flip chart, write down your bold money goal. Then surrounding that goal, write down the different ways you can go about achieving your money goal. For each area, list a revenue goal.

When you have finished creating your strategic plan—which might be done in as little as 30 minutes, said Jerome—don’t keep it hidden. Post it in your office where you will see it and be reminded of what you’re achieving this year.

4. Get buy-in. Buy-in happens in three directions: down, up, and across. “You want your team to get on board with you,” she said. “The best way to make this happen is to get them on board from the beginning. Have them help you create your strategic plan. Have your team help you create your mission and your vision. When people are involved in that creative process, they own it and they become committed.”

You also want to get buy-in going up. “If you are the top, then your ‘up’ buy-in needs to come from your lenders or investors or someone close to you, such as your spouse.”

Finally, you also need buy-in across the organization. Large organizations get collaborative buy-in by getting the different departments, such marketing, manufacturing, and finance involved with the plan from the start. In your organization, you may invite your team members to a meeting to collectively, as a group, develop the strategic plan.

“Across” also means including your customers. To get buy-in from them, consider sending out a survey or conducting a contest. Ask them, “We’re getting ready to launch a new product. What do you think about this idea? How will it affect you?”

5. Design the supporting goals. Once you have your strategic plan and the buy-in you need, the next thing to do is to develop goals that will support your plan. When you write your goals, think in terms of outcomes, said Jerome. Then write SMART goals: specific, measureable, achievable, results-driven, and time-sensitive.

Write goals that can be achieved within a 30–90 day time span, she recommended. “People need a reward system. When you have a reward in place—your goal accomplishment—it helps you keep going.” Short-term goals also allow you to adjust your course if necessary.

6. Get into action. “The first five tips,” said Jerome, “are a top-down approach to strategic planning. Small business owners often think in on the level of ‘to do.’ We don’t always think strategically. So sometimes it is more effective for us to use a bottom-up approach to strategic planning.” 

In this approach, she explained, write down all of the things you have to do, then look at similar activities and roll them up together into big areas. Then set your goals—including a money goal—around those activities.

Strategic planning works either way—top down or bottom up, she said. The important thing is to think creatively to break out of the box you may find holding you in.

7. Get a support system. Accountability is key to turning a plan into results. Use a support system to make yourself accountable. Your support system might be a mentor, a buddy, or a coach. When you use this person, make sure you follow up with that person, said Jerome. “Find someone to be accountable to,” she said. “Making yourself accountable increases your chance of success tremendously.”




GinaMaria Jerome
GinaMaria Jerome

GinaMaria Jerome is CEO of The Leadership Guild. She is also author of

The American Dream: The Tale of Leadership from the Founding Fathers (iUniverse). She spoke at a recent Knowledge Is Power breakfast workshop, co-sponsored by the University of North Florida and VyStar Credit Union.




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