Long term planning

I'm just wondering how people go about this stuff..

Productivity apps, reading tea leaves, using pen and paper, saying maybe a lot or reaching for the tarot cards. All tips welcomed since I am terrible at this and could really use the help!

Also looking back how often do these plans work out?

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Comments

  • Pretty much in survival mode running on momentum now. If I were to be serious about a long term plan I may enlist some sort of coach or mentor.

  • edited March 2018

    I should have mentioned that I'm also in need of a long term plan (1year) in document form that I can show to people. If anyone has found techniques or apps that may assist these would be appreciated.

    I usually only plan things a few days ahead but if I'm working on a project that is not mine I have no problem finding lots of time and will begin quickly!

  • Oh hehe, I see. Well then you are a step ahead of me. ;)

  • Plan for what?

  • @wim said:
    Plan for what?

    Yup. More details. Especially as regards need, audience, consequences and competition.

  • Take the north, cover your flank and for the love of God don't eat your horse until you've crossed the river!

  • Set a deadline and stick to it, come hell or high water. That's the only plan that ever worked for me.

    Set the deadline, and then just do whatever you have to do to meet that deadline. If that involves making some kind of sacrifice, then so be it, prioritise the deadline. The sacrifice might be your free time, or the scope of the project, depending on the situation.

    Some people, who are more organised than I am, are good with schedules and planners, but I'm not. Every day is different, every day comes with a different set of problems, and certainly in my working life I often come across unexpected issues (maybe a software problem, insurmountable bug or what have you) and suddenly a day has been lost to troubleshooting and the schedule is out of the window. But the deadline is still king.

    When crunch time comes though, lists are useful. Just to make sure that nothing gets forgotten.

  • The celebrated Himalayan mountaineer Bill Tilman once said, "Any worthwhile expedition can be planned on the back of an envelope."

    • Make a Business/Artist Model Canvas.

    • From that, ellaborate goals (Business Plan) for:
      • 3 months
      • 6 months
      • 9 months
      • 12 months

    • Try to accomplish the most those deadlines.
    • Each cycle revise the canvas (make some evaluation of the goals) since those are a guide but never stone grabbed words. Redesign!

    • Use the spagghetti tower paradigm for everything and sometimes take decissions in your own (leadership) when team get stuck (if there are discussions is a must!)

    • Good luck!

    References:
    https://strategyzer.com/canvas/business-model-canvas

    https://www.ted.com/talks/tom_wujec_build_a_tower

    https://www.ted.com/playlists/140/how_leaders_inspire

    Hint: In your key partners maybe you will need a “business planner” or “Coach” :wink:

  • About apps there are lots of them from business canvas apps to tasks apps budget apps... but those are only useful if you have things clear in mind and a team to coordinate. Without that these are just procastination tools...

  • Interim milestones?

  • After checking a bunch of 'lots of apps' I'll probably stick with the mountaineer's envelope o:)
    Some apps pretend a neat look of the plan, but most were either too schematic or unconvenient to use. And I hate those 'stating the obvious' arrows.

  • Be honest with yourself about you’re priorities, after that 70% of what’s irrelevant will just fade away naturally.

  • Thanks all for the wide range of responses so far. I have been using the "back of an envelope" technique combined with listening to my instincts fairly successfully for a while now.

    What I actually need to produce is a 1 year financial projection plan for my small business (providing game/app audio engines via middleware with a focus on VR stuff). This document will be important in getting access to assistance and grants.

    I like the idea of walking into the meeting with towers of spaghetti, placing them on the table then calmly taking a seat, pointing at the spaghetti and saying "there it is"

  • Make a list and then deliberately lose it
    It’s the best advice I can offer

  • edited March 2018

    well, that's an entirely different story...
    You may check InShort, which can actually calculate with diagrams and tables, but it is complex with a significant learning curve.
    http://www.shortki.com/inShort.html
    The output is fairly non-pretending, so it may apply if your audience is more more on facts than fancy side of things.
    If you manage to understand the app you might even recalculate events on the fly.

  • Long term planning for me is mostly until tomorrow.
    Mostly i live for the moment.

  • Thanks for the link @Telefunky
    That looks quite similar to the middleware software I'm using so I may be able to get my head around it with some time.

    If anyone here has experience in this area (audio for games/apps) I would love to know approximately how long it takes to get paid for these projects once they are done? I would be requiring some payment before starting and will set sensible limitations on how many revisions I will provide for the price agreed on.

  • Mind mapping on paper is what I rely on - mapping whenever I need a brain dump and saving them as part of my sketch books. I just got done scanning all of my old sketchbooks and now have them in Lightroom CC so I can flip through them easily by year, and it's clear that the same themes (business and personal) keep popping up and getting worked from various angles.

    For business forecasting, a lot of maps end up with a "what if" piece that evaluate a possible project and all of its potential, risks, timing and resource consideration, etc. Very useful for evaluating if the next big idea should be worked immediately, next year, or put on the back burner ready to reactivate if situation x, y or z comes to pass. Once the ideas are all mapped out it's easy to add notes that include high/low earnings, expense and cash flow considerations and pencil in how each possible path might play out in short, medium and long term.

    If a page or two of mind mapping doesn't make everything clear, then it's time to take a walk, have a cup of tea and draw up yet another map to test out the questions that weren't answered the first time around. Eventually I reach a point where the long term direction, next steps, risks, list of unknowns/unknowable stuff, criteria for staying the course, criteria for switching to the back-up plan, etc are all just totally obvious and crystal clear. At that point it's time to get back to work with a really clear head and sense of direction - but that's also the point where turning the key points of a mind map into a formal business plan, outline, task list or whatever is quite easy.

    Then the next time I feel restless or unsettled I draw out another mind map and see what pops out of it. That reinforces that some paths are right ones and others need a change or to be dropped.

  • I like that approach @Angie

    The problem is I'm at the point where you say is the easy part. Putting everything down on paper in a professional manner is where I am struggling! I will need to predict the future while making sure I don't project too little or too much income. Either of these will cause problems in time when I have to show results to qualify for further assistance after year one.

    Thanks again for the tips so far :)

  • edited March 2018

    @BlueGreenSpiral said:
    I like that approach @Angie

    The problem is I'm at the point where you say is the easy part. Putting everything down on paper in a professional manner is where I am struggling! I will need to predict the future while making sure I don't project too little or too much income. Either of these will cause problems in time when I have to show results to qualify for further assistance after year one.

    Thanks again for the tips so far :)

    Try going at it by not trying to find the right answer first. Come up with a list of 6 - 10 possible answers.

    I do this all of the time with long term financial security planning - which I use to determine whether to activate a business project back-up plan. For example, addressing the question "do I have business funds to continue with my current business course, unmodified, with no add on projects." Break that down into micro questions:

    Do I have enough savings and forecast income to do this for a week?
    A month?
    Three months?
    Six months?
    A year?
    Two years?
    Five years?
    10 years?
    20 years?
    30 years?
    40 years?

    I don't have an exact answer - but 5 years ago the uncertainties started with the month/three/six month calculations and now the uncertainty point seems to fall between 25 years and 40 years.

    So it sounds like you have to provide a one year growth forecast, and at the one year mark show results and provide another one year forecast - and there is benefit to arriving at the one year mark meeting with proof that your forecasts were sound.

    On you mind map, gather this sort of data. Required expenses, nice to have expenses, rough timing for expenses, source of funds for expenses. Just dump it in piles on paper and arrange it into timelines later. Then add potential income sources, what's required before a source of income can become active, time lag that will occur between sale and payment, risk of non-payments, your time required to create product or provide services, method for customer discovery. You are basically fleshing out all of the business stuff that is built into your plan first, and then running scenarios with product pricing and customer purchase possibilities afterwards. And then it's the list again: what if 5 customers, 10, 20 100, 1000, 10,000.

    When you are forecasting short term, high risk, you need to calculate across the range of possibilities to have a vision of what's possible, and operate based on low level estimates of success. I started my business plan based on calculations of 5 sales per established title per month - and that's the number I compared to personal savings to calculate what to expect. "What to expect" is also the benchmark for knowing if my business was performing adequately or if I needed to pull the plug and consider something else instead - and I had timed goals at three, six and 12 months.

    I was fortunate and the business eventually soared to heights I could never imagine (see number 28 here https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/2015/books#2 achieved with no promotion, advertising or interviews. :smile: ) But the business planning, calculations and forecast always take the same form. Get everything dumped in a mind map, know what stuff is fixed expense, elective expense, modest and achievable sales, modest and achievable growth, required personal time commitment and sensible "what ifs" (what if I sell 10% more every month.)

    Most people who require a business plan from you want a well though out plan and a reasonable estimate of risk and return on investment. In my case, I lucked out and a boom hit in a business area that I'd been studying for decades and been active in for about a year and a half pre-boom. But boom or not, I had a business plan in place with a 10 year modest growth forecast and a really clear idea of what it would take to reach a sensible business goal. A lot of business aspects are fully under your control - things like whether you plan to buy a new computer or slog it out with a hand me down. Whether I buy the nice pencils I like now at x $$$ per year or spend on Dollar store pencils supplemented with cheap give away pens from anyone who gives them away.

    I think you'll have no problem getting a good plan together. Budget it doing it 3 or 4 times before you end up with one you trust, and dive in so you can get the wonky ones out of the way this weekend. :smiley:

    And keep in mind, you need to show someone a really good plan - not prove that you are psychic. A plan doesn't have to show just one likely outcome - go ahead and show three as long as you can explain relative likelihoods and risks.

  • What @Angie said. Go to the library or bookstore and look at some books on creating a small business plan.

  • @Angie said:
    I was fortunate and the business eventually soared to heights I could never imagine (see number 28 here https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/2015/books#2

    Very nice!

  • @BlueGreenSpiral said:
    Thanks all for the wide range of responses so far. I have been using the "back of an envelope" technique combined with listening to my instincts fairly successfully for a while now.

    What I actually need to produce is a 1 year financial projection plan for my small business (providing game/app audio engines via middleware with a focus on VR stuff). This document will be important in getting access to assistance and grants.

    I like the idea of walking into the meeting with towers of spaghetti, placing them on the table then calmly taking a seat, pointing at the spaghetti and saying "there it is"

    Maybe you can start with the business model canvas and plan which is what investors ask for. The spaghetti tower paradigm is a way to deal with it not the project itself

    Idk if there is something like that focused onto videogames development but maybe some devs could point you out :wink:

  • edited March 2018

    Some excellent advice and plenty of food for thought! @Angie

    Congratulations on the book, looks like you are doing really well with it! I'm going to try out some of this mind mapping as it seems to have worked for you :)

    @Dubbylabby Thanks for the advice, the spaghetti comment was my attempt at humour!

    I have spent more than a year working on the business plan so far. Almost full time.... choosing a name, setting up taxes and tax breaks, marketing, legal obstacles, where to find opportunities, grants and collaborators, what type of clients to avoid, how much competition will I face and how to draw up project specific contracts etc. Also learning the middleware software took quite a while but I feel 99% ready to take the plunge..

    This one page one year financial projection is hopefully the last piece of the puzzle.

  • @BlueGreenSpiral said:
    Some excellent advice and plenty of food for thought! @Angie

    Congratulations on the book, looks like you are doing really well with it! I'm going to try out some of this mind mapping as it seems to have worked for you :)

    @Dubbylabby Thanks for the advice, the spaghetti comment was my attempt at humour!

    I have spent more than a year working on the business plan so far. Almost full time From choosing a name, setting up taxes, marketing, legal obstacles, where to find opportunities, grants and collaborators, what type of clients to avoid, how much competition will I face and how to draw up project specific contracts etc

    This one page one year financial projection is hopefully the last piece of the puzzle.

    So you know what to do, mate!
    Go for it!

  • @Dubbylabby said:
    Go for it!

    I think I just needed someone to say those three little words.

    Thanks!

  • edited March 2018

    @BlueGreenSpiral said:

    I have spent more than a year working on the business plan so far. Almost full time.... choosing a name, setting up taxes and tax breaks, marketing, legal obstacles, where to find opportunities, grants and collaborators, what type of clients to avoid, how much competition will I face and how to draw up project specific contracts etc. Also learning the middleware software took quite a while but I feel 99% ready to take the plunge..

    This one page one year financial projection is hopefully the last piece of the puzzle.

    OK - so a good chunk of this task is refining and organizing information rather than planning. Jot down a mind map bubble for each of the points you just listed, and any other big and medium idea areas. Then give each one a side comment with "the answer". Business name? One answer if you are that clear on it, 2 or 3 answers if you are fielding options.

    You'll end up with a lot of bubbles that yield one super clear answer, and some that are less defined. Then get clarity on the ones that have multiple or insufficient answers. Should they actually go forward with multiple options? Is a decision needed? Does more info need to be gathered before deciding? Is the answer dependent on business performance measure of some kind at a future date?

    Once you have razor sharp clear bubbles in all of the areas, pick a business plan organization structure. (Either one based on expressed requirements from the client, a structure norm from your industry, one based on a Google search for "business plan organization structure" that really seems like it will meet both your need and client needs.)

    If you are starting with a year of good thinking, know your key bullet points, know that each are defined to the point of clarity (which can also mean being clear on what cannot be known) all that is left is to plop those ideas into a readable format. The choices for the format can be: what the client expects and is familiar with, what is required by some kind of regulation, what is common and useful in related industries, or what is organized by time/income/expense relationships.

    Often the main barrier at the point of project planning is the sense that something might not be understood yet and you aren't sure what that might be. Looking at all of the bubbles on paper makes it easier to see which ones are still fuzzy. Color code them if need be - which is really encouraging because you'll see you probably have most of this done already.

  • Long term, short term Oblique Strategies. http://www.rtqe.net/ObliqueStrategies/

  • edited March 2018

    @BlueGreenSpiral said:

    @Dubbylabby said:
    Go for it!

    I think I just needed someone to say those three little words.

    Thanks!

    If you can fill all the areas in the canvas, you can translate it into finantial plan. So just breath, organize it (or do it with the help of someone who puts some perspective on it) and start writting it. You have all you need and you are cappable for the task so choose a path and start. That’s the spaghetti tower lesson... if you didn’t saw the tedtalk I encourage you to learn from kids how to deal with goals.

    There are the second better group building those tower rear architects. Why they are says more about adults than kids themselves. :wink:

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