Planning for Success

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  

Greetings New Mexico prospects and clients!  I’m pleased to announce that The Story Muse has relocated to the incredibly beautiful high desert of Albuquerque having built an adobe nest in the quaint village of Placitas.  I enjoyed 10 years of living in the Pacific Northwest (Portland, Oregon) but I must say it is wonderful to be able to dry out and enjoy consistent sunshine than I’ve experienced in over a decade.  Too bad the Twilight movie series has come to an end; I would have made a great extra.
I didn’t have much time this year to blog as I would have liked to.  2012 was a busy year – and I hope 2013 proves to be increasingly more productive.  Many of this year’s clients were nonprofit organizations which kept my brain buzzing and my fingers blazing since besides making sure your grant application and its’ content is impeccable, making sure you meet those deadlines is imperative. Otherwise you miss the boat entirely and will have to wait until the following year for the next grant cycle to commence.  Twelve months to wait for money that you need pronto is not going to propel your organization forward at the speed you would desire.  Keep in mind how many underfunded nonprofits are vying for the same grant awards.  Submitting your application even by one day matters; the early bird gets the worm, or at least, plucks the prime ones.  I advise all my clients to shoot for one week prior to the deadline to avoid any delays that are out of their control; the Post Office is a prime example.  Send those grant applications out Priority Mail, as there is a much lower chance of it getting lost in the giant package shuffle that goes on behind the Post Office front counter. 
Regardless of what type of business you have I believe on of the biggest keys to success is to plan, plan, and plan!  Get yourself one of those jumbo dry-eraser 12 month calendars and put it in your sales area, conference room, or wherever the troops gather, and utilize it.  Assign a different colored marker for each specific action/person.  Of course you can use on-line shared documents or software, but I’m old school….keeping the calendar up for everyone to see on a daily basis ensures people won’t forget to check their computer generated calendars.  For grant writing purposes, after you have identified those foundations whose focus areas match yours – get them up on the board.  Depending on how much information you have already compiled (financials, history, success stories, goals and objectives) draw a timeline and put a big fat red circle around the DEADLINE date….again, I suggest giving yourself a week’s lead time.  This calendar can be archived and later updated for next years because even if your proposal is declined the first time, you have another opportunity to dazzle them next year. 
Another handy tool that is especially effective for start-up companies or new projects is to develop a simple spreadsheet that would include a start date, the person, or persons, in charge of a specific function, and the projected date of the next step/completion.  Bring this sheet to every management/planning meeting and go down the list asking each participant to provide an update on their task including the next action needed and/or anticipated date of completion.  It might look something like this:
 Julie/Marketing     Education Brochure   11/30/12        Mark/Finance        Budget    12/05/12            Jane/Materials        Quotes/COG               11/30/12


This helps keep the group organized and informed as to what their team members are doing and helps hold them accountable as to their prospective role/s in the project so there are no unwelcome surprises down the road.  “What do mean you forgot to send the final copy to the printer?”
I don’t want to bog you down with today’s blog, so let’s all get back to work.  My plan is to figure out how to best introduce myself to the ABQ metro area businesses, and your plan might be to mark “call this woman who calls herself The Story Muse and see how she can help us” on your calendar.  Works for me; I look forward to the potential of working with you towards increasing your success. 
My rates are reasonable, fair, and I will work as if I own a stake in your organization.  I might even be willing to partially barter for some good green Chile salsa.  So please, consider giving me a call.  I’ll bring the chips.