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Goal-Setting & Planning to Grow Your Standout Business

Lesson 14 of 16

Divide Projects Into Sprints & Marathons


Goal-Setting & Planning to Grow Your Standout Business

Lesson 14 of 16

Divide Projects Into Sprints & Marathons


Lesson Info

Divide Projects Into Sprints & Marathons

Alright, now we need to divide our projects into sprints and marathons. Because sometimes, some successes come from concentrated effort and fast action. (whispering) Those are my favorite kind. (audience laughing) And others come from a long, slow burn. Those I don't like so much. (audience laughing) But it's reality, right? What I've noticed though, in working with clients and small business owners for a long time, is that old adage of slow and steady wins the race actually kind of drags people down because they assume that if they're not going slow and steady with a project, if they're trying to make it happen fast, that they're doing it wrong. And so I see a lot of people actually extend projects out or extend out goals because they think, "I gotta do it slow and steady "because that's what's gonna win the race, "that's what's gonna lead to long term growth." And there's a lot of truth to that but there's also a lot of danger in that because sometimes you need to test assumptions, y...

ou need to make a fast switch. Sometimes you have to literally flip a switch on something. I'm gonna talk about that with my example in a little bit and how we divided up those sprints and marathons. But you really, you need to balance out the things that you're gonna act fast on, either because you need to or because you want to, and the things that are going to require a long, slow burn. Because some things are, some things you can't take fast action on and you need to be prepared for that because I know also a lot of people like filling their time with other things, other priorities, other goals, other tactics, when really, they just need to relax and let the plan take its course. So this is where the calendar starts coming in because now that you have a 12 week plan, you know what you need to do to get that quarterly target, you need to start laying out those projects, those deadlines, those habits out on an actual calendar or some sort of project planning tool. I know lots of people use paper planners, paper calendars. I know lots of people use digital planners and digital calendars. Whatever works for you. There is no right or wrong. We were actually talking in the last break about I've really switched to daily planning and so on a day to day basis, I'm using Danielle LaPorte's desire map planner. That's working out great for me but at the same time then, I also have our long term plans laid in elsewhere. They're in my calendar and they're in our Asana. Now I'm gonna talk more about Asana in a little bit here. But the next step of this process really is deciding how these projects are all going to fit together as best you can. And we also here need to be gentle with ourselves and realize that you're gonna get this wrong sometimes, that plans are gonna change because remember, planning looks like this, not like this, alright? And so sometimes things change but this is where you really need to get the calendar out. It's not just the notebook planning anymore, this is where we start laying things out. So again, looking at our project plan here, we actually had two sprints here and one long term plan. Which two do you think were the sprints? Hire the marketing director? Yeah. Inform members. Well so, okay, so actually two of these projects, not just action steps. Two of these projects were sprints and one of them was a marathon. The first two are sprints. Yes, you know because you saw (laughs) but yes, the first two were sprints and the last one was a marathon. This kind of lasted from sort of month, it was all of month two and all of month three, was designing and executing that campaign but we reorganized our team and filled holes in about two weeks and we rebranded in about seven days. Because I decided that's what we needed to do. If we were going to get to that grand opening campaign, grand reopening campaign, I needed to move fast on the rebranding. We didn't have time, because of when I wanted things to get done, when I wanted to hit those goals. We didn't have time to drag that out. So I made the list. I listed out all of the action steps and all of the standards, assigned the resources, and our team made it happen. And it probably went faster both internally and externally than some people would have liked. In fact, I know it did but at the same time, it was extremely successful. And it's been a huge shift in our business, in our company, in our projections, in our community, it's been really, really positive. And had I dragged that out, I don't think the results would have been as positive. I think maybe people would have gotten a little more comfortable with it but comfort isn't always a metric of success, right? In fact, it's often not. So we got a little uncomfortable here. We dealt with some customer service issues, but we made it happen. And because of that then, we were able to design and execute on that grand reopening campaign, we've been able to hire and work really well together as a team, even as a growing team, and that's why we were able to blow that 150 member target out of the water. So, those two were sprints, one was a marathon. I'm not saying that on your plan, you're always gonna have two sprints and one marathon. I'm not suggesting that at all. Maybe you do have three marathons that you're working on but I would also challenge you to think about, what's that one piece of the puzzle that you could get in place first? Actually, that makes me think of puzzles. You know how when you're doing a puzzle, at least the way Shawn does the puzzle, but I think everyone does it this way, you get the outside edges out first, right? You don't care about anything else in the puzzle because as soon as you get the outside edge pieces done and you can do that quickly, now you have something to work from, right? That's why rebranding was a sprint and not a marathon because until I got that outside edge of the puzzle done, I didn't have anything to work from. I had to do the rebrand fast. So think about that. What's the outside edge of the puzzle that is your plan? What do you need to get in place fast to make the rest of it happen? Do any of you, have any of you identified sprints in your plan already? Yeah? What do you have? What's gonna be the sprint? As we were going through like earlier today with the values, I realized that there's a couple pages of my website I need to update so that I can reintroduce and position myself for the opportunities that I wanna have. Yes, yes, yes. Yes, redoing websites, great sprints. Maybe that doesn't mean like you build it from scratch in a week. Although I know people who do that, I have done that before. I don't recommend it. But redoing, like identifying I've got these five pages, I'm gonna do it over these five days and then it's gonna be done and I can move onto the whole rest of my plan. That is a perfect sprint. Thank you for that example. Anybody else? Yeah. I realize that I need to hire an admin person because that will allow me to be able to focus more on actually accomplishing, you know, the project plans. Yeah, do you have someone in mind for it or are you gonna, is the interviewing process gonna be part of the sprint? I have started looking for people so I have received resumes so now I just need to take the time to review them and actually interview some candidates. Cool, so, time frame. You thinking two weeks? I think within the next month. The next month, alright. That's my goal. Alright, awesome, cool. Thank you. Now I've mentioned Asana a few times here. Whoop, there we go. I've mentioned Asana a few times here, this is a very small look into our Asana. And Rosie, who's our chief operations officer, is sort of the czar of Asana in our business. Maybe we should change her title to that. Rosie, if you're listening, you're now the Asana czar. (laughing) But she's the one who actually takes our project plans and builds them into a system that assigns due dates, like so that I get an email if I'm behind on something. Or gives us a place to talk about things, gives us a place to assign resources, whether they're information resources, financial resources, whatever it might be, and this is how we're able to kind of look. Whether it's at a calendar level, whether it's at a personal responsibility level. This is my HQ, these are things I am responsible for or interested in. Things I need to know about as the team leader. Or, as sort of a project based goal. So we also have things broken out into projects over here on the lower left hand corner so that, again, like Creative Live is on there. We have our marketing system for Creative Live on there. We have, "Are the slides done, Tara? "Is the workbook done, Tara? "What else do you need? "What resources do you need from the team?" That's all on there. And so we love Asana. It's been, for me, it was not like love at first sight, it was a lot of courting. Asana had to be very persistent until I would finally go out with it. (laughing) And really, even then, it was more Rosie made the decision and I was like, "Okay." But slowly but surely, every single one of our team members has really fallen in love with this as a tool for managing our projects and making sure we're all on the same page. And the more out team has grown, the better we've organized it, actually the more important this has been because now instead of me being the real bottleneck for our business, now we have a lot of distributed ownership in our team and Asana really makes that possible. So if you're tired of being the one who always has to approve everything or everyone always having to check in with you, this can be a really, really great way to go. So I asked Rosie, "What would you say to everyone "as they're planning their projects?" Because like I said, actually project management, is not a strength of mine. It is from sort of a visionary, CEO perspective, but not from an operational perspective. So she said, "Take each job you do and document each detail, "whether you do it all yourself right now "or you have a team." And so this works both for planning and it works retroactively, too. What are the things you're doing on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, that you just do because you know how to do it? Or it's just part of your job, it's just part of the work that you do? If you can document those processes, then they become so much easier to offload to someone else in the future. Or they become so much easier to replicate because even if it's just up in your head, and you've done it a thousand times, you're still, to a degree, reinventing the wheel every time you do it. But instead, if you have a template in Asana, or you have a project laid out, an SOP in Google Drive or somewhere else or maybe you use Trello. Now you have a process to work from, you have a system in place. You don't need to create your system, you have the system already there, you just need to document it. But it also works with planning, too. So as you start planning, you're gonna start documenting the processes as you create them. So again, it's easier for someone else to step in. God forbid you get in an accident, something happens, someone else could step into your business and at least know what's going on. As long as you are proactively documenting things. So again, even if you are a business of one, documenting and managing projects is a really important part of planning for the growth of your business. Now, I'm not gonna get into the finer points of Asana, because frankly, I couldn't. (laughing) But, we have friends who do and in fact, our good friend Natasha Vorompiova has a guide to Asana on her website at This is a paid guide but she also has a lot of blog posts and free content on how to use Asana to grow your business, to plan for your business, and to really systematize things. And so she's always our go-to gal on project management, planning, and systematizing your business. In fact, she trained Rosie how to do what Rosie does for me so we really do trust her immensely. So if this whole Asana thing sounds interesting to you, check out Natasha's stuff.

Class Description

So you launched a business and made the leap. 

Congratulations! But now you are a year or longer into being a business owner and you are HUNGRY for more. 

You have put in the hard work to build your business to where it is today but big decisions about what to focus on and what opportunities to pursue, threaten to slow your progress. 

You want to make the right decisions for your business and your customers so you can feel confident, focused, and accomplished as a small business owner. 

Goal-setting & Planning To Grow Your Standout Business helps you make the right decisions about your ideas, opportunities, and plans so you can earn more money and save time on the path to your dream. 

Whether you’re offering a service, selling online programs, or designing a product, Tara guides you step-by-step through setting the goals and creating the plans that will grow your business. 

By the end of the class, you’ll have a framework for knowing: 

  • What to focus on to grow your business without working harder 
  • How to know which project comes first so you’re never backtracking 
  • How to know you’re making the right decisions for your business so you can achieve your vision 
  • How to set goals you can actually achieve with the resources you currently have 

Tara is a bestselling CreativeLive instructor, with a wide variety of business classes including the first step for entrepreneurs, Build a Standout Business. She is the founder of CoCommercial, the business association for digital small business owners and the author of the book Quiet Power Strategy. Tara’s work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., and Design*Sponge. Her podcast, “Profit. Power. Pursuit.” was named one of the top women-hosted podcasts for entrepreneurs by Entrepreneur magazine. 

By the end of this class, you will have a clear vision of what you are building, a clear path to build it, and a project plan to take you closer to turning your vision into reality.  


Donna Herbster

Packed with truly helpful info and lots of actionable steps, Tara delivers an amazing amount of value in this class! I'm in the early stages of business development and what I have learned here has shifted my focus, brought me greater clarity and a list of things to consider as I plan what, when and how I will deliver an exceptional experience to my clients. I have followed Tara's work from the beginning and she continues to outdo herself time and time again...she is a powerhouse of wisdom and experience, as well as a fun and easy to follow speaker! I highly recommend this class.

Winn Clark

Excellent class and maybe the best online class I've ever taken. It's a great combination of practical and dream big and Tara's credible and funny. I can't wait to go back, listen again and dive deeper into the assignments. I'd recommend this class to anyone who wants to grow their business!

Deb Fels

To Tara and CreativeLIVE: Thanks for your commitment to small business owners. You offer empowering mentorship with smarts, heart, and power - I'm grateful. Tara, I've sought the matching resources for my business as I've evolved, this AMAZING course truly rang my bell. Thanks for the traction, your willingness to keep growing forward, and not settling for less!