020: Planning For a Successful 2021





Well, hello, my friends, and welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. I am your host, Ronda Nelson. I’m so glad that you took the time to hang out with me today. I absolutely love our topic for today. People love this time of year (myself included,) because of the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the festivities that go along with that. But one of the things that my brain loves is planning for the new year.  I don’t know if I’ve always loved it, but once I had an experience with my very first coach where she taught me how to wrap up the year and move into the new year with a clean slate.  From then on, I was hooked. The planning part of my brain kicks into gear and I love being able to plan for my next year.  I also repeat the process every quarter. What am I going to accomplish in the next quarter? What objectives do I have? I don’t want to get too much ahead of myself and have a spoiler alert right in the beginning, so let’s get started!




Today I want to talk to you about how to plan for 2021. Last week we talked about how to plan your social media content in three simple steps. If you completed those steps, you probably found that you had more than a month or two worth of content. Today I want you to grab a pen and paper and you’re going to jot some of this down so that you’ll be able to redo it after we’re done with the podcast. I’m going to walk you through the four steps that I do to prepare for the next year. Now, I’m going to warn you upfront. I recommend that you block out two hours. Don’t panic, these are two hours well spent, I promise. You may want to block it out on an early Saturday morning, grab your cup of coffee or your tea, sit down, and plan to be uninterrupted for two hours with a few key things on hand that will help this process be much more efficient.


So let’s start with what you need to do to get set up. Number one, you need a calendar. Duh, right? We need a 2021 calendar. I recommend a big calendar with big squares. I don’t like calendars that have all the fluff and the designs and the pretty flowers, I don’t need all of that. I just need a white calendar that includes 12 months, one month for each page. I’ll link one in the show notes for you. The second thing you want to do with that big calendar is to tear it apart. We need each page completely separate from each other. What I’m saying is I don’t want to leave it in the form that it’s in with the little wire at the top. What I want you to do is to tape them to a wall. So, once you take your calendar apart and you have 12 individual calendars, I want you to tape each one of them to the wall in their order.


The next thing you need besides the calendar is sticky notes. I love making calendars with sticky notes and I love them in different colors. And you’ll see in the show notes, I have an example of the sticky notes in the calendar kind of system that I use but get some little sticky notes. We are going to put sticky notes all over your calendar. Get different colors, it makes the whole process a little bit more enjoyable. So, now you have your calendar, sticky notes, and now you need a black gel pen. There’s a reason that I like gel pens, and that is because they show up. Usually, the tip of the pen is a little bit wider than a ballpoint pen and I want to see the big calendar on the wall in full color and I can’t see it well if I had a ballpoint pen. Maybe that’s my aging eyes, I don’t know. But anyway, get a gel pen, it works better. Now, we’re ready to get started. Step number one, you have your calendar all taped out to the wall or you can use a big whiteboard.


You’re going to write down all of what I call “your big rocks,” Your big rocks are things like a family reunion, a vacation to see your brand new grandbaby, college graduation, or some personal item or trip that’s very important to you and is non-negotiable. The first thing I do is I write down where I want to take a vacation and a dedicated vacation. I may take a day off here or there but I don’t worry about that so much because sometimes that happens on the fly. But I want to write down that in January, I know that we always go to Hawaii in January. So, that is automatically blocked out on the calendar. We always take a week off in May, we always take a week off in September, and we take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off as a team. That’s a vacation for me. So, I block out my non-negotiable vacations, first.


The second thing I put on the calendar is the office closures. Vacations and your office closures may not be the same. An example of office closure would be things like Christmas in 2021. Christmas falls on a Saturday in 2021, so I’m going to close on Thursday and Friday. We are already closed every Friday, I set that policy a long time ago. So, that means my girls are going to get a four-day weekend that weekend for Christmas. I block off those days, same for New Year’s Eve, Thanksgiving. How do I want to manage those? Fourth of July, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day in 2021. I block off all of those. I put a little sticky note on when I want those days blocked off and I use the same color sticky notes for holidays and office closures. So, I know that wherever I see, for me it’s green, wherever I see a green sticky note, I know what that means. That means the office is closed for those days, so nobody’s working. The pink ones are mine. Those are my vacation days.


The third thing that I put on there are all my staffs’ birthdays because it’s important to me to honor them and recognize them. The next thing I put on there are any local school schedules. I know school has been a little wonky this year, but you’re still going to have periods where you’re going to have Easter and spring, fall break, and summer break. So, to the best of your ability, given the circumstances, try and write out the things that you know where schools in your area are either going to be closed or there’s a change or they’re running half days or even if it’s parent-teacher conferences. Anything that has to do with schools, I always like to include those on the calendar because they affect scheduling, availability of the parents for appointments, or children to come in, which is why I like to put the school things on there.


Also, I want to make sure to see if there’s a university nearby. I always recommend that you include the university in your planning because you want to know when that influx of students is going to come in and then when they’re going to be leaving in the late spring. The next thing and the last thing that I put on my calendar is anything local that I want to be a part of or is going to influence my patient flow, or maybe even something that I want to piggyback on and ride the wave of as far as from a marketing perspective. It might be something like a Ducky Derby race or a hot rod thing or you may have NASCAR that comes to your town or you may have some kind of big contest that comes to your town or a local parade that everybody participates in. It’s different from location to location across the country. So make sure that you get those big things on your calendar because you’re going to want to know ahead of time, so you can plan some marketing things around those local activities. This is how you build your brand in your community.


Now, if you have a virtual practice, your local events are still very important. If you have your sights set on a virtual practice, that’s great, but where you start building that virtual practice is in your own backyard. Don’t underestimate the power of local events for building your brand and getting your name out there to the people that are in your community, as far as what you do in that functional wellness, alternative space. So, that’s number one, get down all the big rocks.


I told you, this is why you need two hours, my friend. It took me a good two or three hours to get mine done but I’m so happy because it’s mostly done. Alright, the second thing we’re going to focus on is any kind of initiatives, promos, or some new project or a new thing you’re going to offer in your practice. I’ll give you some examples. One thing you might consider is, do you want to add any kind of service to what you’re already doing? Let’s say you decide you want to add a heart sound recorder to offer in your office to your patients. Where are you going to buy that, and how are you going to incorporate that into what you’re doing? You may have a budget or you may plan, “I think I’m going to buy a heart sound recorder in March.” Then at the top of your March calendar, you’re going to put one of the sticky notes up there and write down heart sound recorder. Or if you want another piece of equipment, whatever you’re going to do, you’re going to note that where you’re thinking you might maybe make those bigger purchases throughout the year.


The second thing you might think about is whether you’re going to revamp your pricing at some point. We all think that we need to change pricing. Every few years, the cost of living goes up, the economy changes and we have to adjust pricing. But if you don’t have a plan for when you’re going to do that, you and I both know it’ll never happen. So what we want to do, is put it on the calendar. Maybe in June, you plan to work on changing your pricing structure and it will be effective August 1 or July 15 or something. That’s a great thing to consider at this point in your planning process. Another is if you’ve ever thought about adding in secondary sources of revenues so it could be like a membership? Or it might be bringing on another team member, another person in your office, a massage therapist, another chiropractor or an acupuncturist, or even a health coach to work with your patients. If you’re thinking about bringing someone in, now’s a great time to look at all your 12 months and say, “Okay. I have a vacation here. I have an office closure here. We’ve got a school thing here. So, that’s not going to be a good time for me to focus on bringing someone in, but I can probably bring someone in during August because I’ve got more time or space there.”


So, anything you’re going to do that’s going to add to your revenue stream, think about where you want to add that in. Maybe it’s bringing in a new piece of software or upgrading your current one. You want to make sure you’ve got time scheduled out to be able to accommodate that. You may want to do a patient appreciation block party, whether it’s virtual or in-person. You may want to do a blood drive or something that has to do with one of your community events. Think about the things that are, what I call, initiatives, and promos. What do I want to do that’s going to get my name out there, help me promote what I’m doing, or build a stronger infrastructure inside my business? Whatever you are going to do that’s going to increase your revenue or some initiative or promo, write that down on one of your sticky notes and put it up in the top right corner of your calendar square. So, you know that month you’ve got plans to work on something very important. It may take two or three months to accomplish, so if that’s the case, put your sticky note on two or three different months.


We’ve got most of the big things here. Now your calendar should have sticky notes all over it. You’ll have some months that look a little heavy and some months that don’t and that’s a good way to decide when to upgrade that software or make it a priority to redo some of your procedures, or even for some training or some team building. Those are all things you want to schedule in the months that maybe aren’t so busy so that it evens out that workload throughout the year. Once you have all those things on your calendar and you step back, you feel very proud of the work that you’ve done. Great job like my hat’s off to you, my friend because this is not easy, but it’s so, so necessary.


Number three, you’re going to get an outside opinion. Now, I know, I know, when we start asking for other people’s opinions about stuff, it can get a little dicey. The first person that I recommend that you take a look at your calendar is your spouse, partner, significant other, someone that’s close to you that knows you well. Have them look at your calendar and give you their feedback. Give them your objective, go over what you’re thinking, “Okay, this is why I put this here. This is what I’m thinking about here.” Because invariably, someone else who’s not emotionally involved can give a perspective that might see where you are headed for a train wreck. They’ll tell you if you’ve got way too much stuff going on or they might say, “Hey, remember we have that wedding to go to in that month on that day.” I say, “Oh, yeah, that’s right.” I have to remove or move around some of my sticky notes. So, get another perspective.


The second person you want to ask is if you have a key team member like an office manager or a front desk person. You want to have them look at it because they’re the ones that are going to be interfacing with the public and helping be that voice of what you’re doing behind the scenes on your calendar. Have a couple of people look at it because they’re going to see places and times where you might be a little overzealous. Maybe if they’re really honest, they’ll tell you that you are under zealous, i.e., you’re kind of lagging, you’re not keeping up the pace. They may say, “Hey, what’s the deal? You don’t have enough squares. You don’t have enough sticky notes on your calendar. Let’s up this game a little bit,” or they may see some missing information.


Now you’ve got your big rocks down, you have your initiatives and promos, and you’ve got an outsider’s opinion. Now, it’s time to take a step back. Number four is you’re going to just let it sit. You’re not going to do anything with it. You’re just going to let it be and let it ruminate around a little bit. I recommend waiting about a week and then going back to it and looking at it with fresh eyes after a week. Almost always, you’ll find that one or two things jump out at you and you think, “Oh my gosh, I can’t do that.” Or you might say, “Oh my gosh, I can do,” whatever your project is. “I can throw that in the middle of August because August is summertime. People are traveling. It might be a little slower. It’s a great time for me to get XYZ project done.” So, give it a week, just put it all away or don’t look at it for a week, then let’s see what you come back with a week later. When you come back with fresh eyes, you’ll most likely see a few things that you might have otherwise missed.


So, that, my friends, is how I plan out my 2021 calendar. While I do this process every year and as I have done this year after year after year, I’m pretty efficient with it and it gets me so excited. I love being able to look at the upcoming year and imagine all the possibilities that can happen because I took the time to plan, visualize, and think about what I want my year to look like. I also make sure that I have dates on there for planning. Remember I mentioned at the beginning of the show, I said I love planning for the quarter, so my next one will be March. The first Thursday in March, I set aside a whole day to plan the second quarter: April, May, and June. The first Thursday of June, of September and December, I also set aside that planning day and I work on what I’m going to do very granular, very specific for the following quarter.


If you’re going to grow your business, you’re going to be on social media, you’re going to drive your economic engine, you’re going to be more profitable. You can’t do that by just sitting back and not having a plan. If you don’t have a plan, you’re going to end up getting the same thing you’re getting right now, and I don’t think any of us want that. Definitely not in 2020, anyway. So, having that plan allows you to be able to move the needle, move that dial to increase your profitability, impact more people, and grow your business so that it’s a thriving, sustainable practice, and you’re having the impact that you want to have, making the income that you want to make, and serving the number of people that you want to serve.



So, that’s all I’ve got for you today, my friend. I’m so thankful to have you part of my community. Thanks for hanging out with me on The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. Be sure you check out the show notes for a few resources there. Otherwise, I will be back next week with more business strategy, planning tactics, and more love coming your way. All right, my friend. Talk to you soon.




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