Yearly Planning Guide for Your Nature-Based Business
Laura Park Figueroa: Welcome to Therapy in the Great Outdoors, the podcast where we explore the business and practice of nature based pediatric therapy of all kinds. If you're an outdoor loving pediatric practitioner in the fields of occupational, physical, or speech therapy, social work, or mental health, this podcast will help you start and grow a successful nature based practice or program.
I am the ever honest, always 100 percent real, you'll hear it all on this podcast, Dr. Laura Park. My name is Laura Park Figueroa. I'm a pediatric OT with over 20 years of experience and I run a thriving nature based practice with profitable locations in two different states and multi six figures in revenue.
I also host the free online community at therapyinthegreatoutdoors. com to help you pursue your nature based therapy dreams too. Are you ready to take action on those dreams? Let's jump in.
Hello everyone. Today, we are going to be talking about business planning. Every year at the end or beginning of the year, you should be planning for your business As my business has grown. I have learned both of my businesses. I have two businesses now. As my business has grown, I've learned that I really need to have a plan because when you're running a team, When you're growing a bigger business, you have to have a plan in order to grow.
So what I use is a guide that I wrote a few years ago called the yearly business planning guide. I wrote this for a mastermind program. I was running at the time and now I use it in my business hive, my group coaching program. That's a year long for nature based business owners, and everybody gets a copy of this and we work through it together.
We do a yearly planning session. Inside of that community in order to support one another, as we're developing these plans and our businesses for the coming year. What I'm going to do on this podcast is walk you through the different areas for business planning and tell you the two that you must do every year to make sure that you assess your business, go back and look at what was successful and not so successful in your business in the past year. And then to plan going forward. As well as give you a few tips about thinking through different areas that you may need to work on in your business in the coming year, and to make a plan for those areas.
There are 10 different categories that I look at when I am doing yearly planning for my businesses. There are a few that I have to do every year and that you must do every year as well. The other ones you will pick and choose what you want to focus on, depending on where you are at in your business, growth and development. So the 10 areas are divided into the four bedrocks of every business.
And those bedrocks are mindset. Operations, finances and marketing. Those are the four bedrock categories that I use in the business bedrocks curriculum that is inside of the business hive, my year long group coaching program. And these four categories are the things that you need to master in order to grow a business effectively and efficiently.
The areas for yearly planning are as follows. Number one is mindset and personal growth. So that's the mindset category. Number two is the category of finances. So those include financial growth, diversifying revenue, streams, and financial systems and organization. The next four categories are under operations of your business.
How, what are the things your business needs to do to be able to operate effectively? And those categories are product development and growth team and culture, physical resources, such as supplies or space. And systems productivity and efficiency. And then the final two areas are under the category of marketing and those are visibility and growth and customer satisfaction.
Okay. So we have these 10 different areas, all underneath the categories of mindset, finances, operations, and marketing. And we are going to focus on every year. You must focus on mindset and personal growth and financial growth. Those are the two yearly planning areas that you have to look at every year as a business owner. So I will focus on those first and then I will talk about how to decide. Which areas you may want to focus on in your business going forward, because in a yearly plan, you really only want to have. One or maybe two areas that you're really focusing on for that year in the. Overarching business, yearly business plan for your business. First of all, for mindset. What I think is really important to do.
You may have heard me mention it before on this podcast is. Reflection like reflection on your learning. I talk about this a lot in my nature-based therapy, mentoring of people when I have a nature-based therapy course that I teach. And in that course, we talk about. The power of reflection in order to help you really integrate your learning. And so I want you to, when you do your yearly business planning, take some really good time, set a timer and really give yourself a good 30 to 60 minutes at least to. Journal about what went really well in the last year in your business. And after you do that, and you're all happy.
I want you to dream about the next year. What would your ideal life as a business owner look like in the next year and journal about that a bit. And as you do that, you will naturally move into thinking about your own personal development and growth. So I want you to think about what are you really good at?
What have you made a lot of improvement and in the past year, what positive changes did you experience? In your mindset as a business owner. And then I want you to think about what challenges you experienced in the past year as a business owner. And.
Really identify some specific actions you can take in the coming year to help you face or overcome those challenges that you had. So write these things down. I want these in a journal physically written down. Now, if you like to type, I guess that's okay. But I always think there's something very unique about pen or pencil to paper. Writing it down in a journal.
I prefer Moleskine journals. I have a bazillion of them. They are all around me. They're my business notebooks. I love them. They're the best. So that's your journaling for the mindset area and your planning for the mindset area. And the personal growth area. I want you to think about skills and habits that you need to develop in the coming year to be a better leader of your business and a better entrepreneur. And then think about what training opportunities you want to pursue for personal growth and development as a leader or entrepreneur. This is where I want you to think about where are you going to invest in yourself as a business owner in order to help your business be more effective, more successful. And more efficient. Okay. So that is the mindset piece.
It's really a matter of looking at what went well over the last year. What challenges did you have in the last year? And then really thinking through, and maybe even talking with a friend I'm an external processor. That's why I like podcasting. Cause I like to talk and it really I've noticed it really helps me to come to solutions to problems. If I can talk it through with a good friend who will listen and just give me feedback and ask questions.
And so that might be an idea too, to think through some of these things with a colleague or a friend who you trust to help you figure out like how. How should you be investing in yourself in the next year? Where are your blind spots, where the things that you really need to get better at as a business owner?
So for me personally, and the next year, one of the things that I am really working on is. Balancing. The needs of the business with the needs of my employees. So I find, I often end up stressing myself out because I'm trying to please all of my employees versus keeping the needs of the business in mind first.
And so being able to. wHat's the word I'm looking for? Like thoughtfully communicate with my employees, why I need to make certain decisions that may not be. What they really would prefer. Cause there's no way as your business grows that you can keep every single person happy all the time.
I promise you. It's just not possible. So we have to learn as business owners to be able to make those decisions to keep the business successful. While also communicating clearly with our employees and setting boundaries around how much we will bend the business to fit their needs.
The second area, you have to do that mindset planning every year, that mindset journaling reflection and planning for the next year, every year, that is so important.
I would say it's probably the most important. Maybe next to finances. It's one of the most important things that you're going to do as a business owner. The second category that you must. Do every year is financial growth. So I want you to in your business notebook or your journal, I want you to look at what your past yearly revenue was.
So if you're listening to this in the future, you might have to do like the past 365 days of data that you have. But look at your yearly revenue. Do you know how much money your business actually brought in? . That is the thing that's very important to know. What is your total revenue sometimes called gross revenue in the business. For the last year. Write that number down. Then I want you to make a goal for next year.
Now you need to keep in mind. If you set a crazy goal, if you made a hundred grand and you want to make 200 grand, that's going to be a really steep goal to hit. To double your income in one year. And the rest of the planning that I'm going to talk you through the rest of the planning areas will be dictated by what are your revenue goals and are you trying to grow the business to a certain level next year?
And then you're going to choose specific areas to focus on if that is your goal. So set a realistic revenue goal for the next year, because you're going to have to make a plan for how to meet that goal. And it can be really challenging to try to bring in a hundred extra thousand dollars in a business if you're only making a hundred grand.
What you made in the last year, what your next year revenue goal is. And then I want you to break that down into the quarterly revenue that you need in your business. So how much do you need to make every quarter in order to hit that yearly revenue goal?
Then I want you to look at your owner pay.
How much did you pay yourself in the past year? Okay, write this stuff down. Do not listen to this episode or watch this video without writing this stuff down. All right. I want you to write these things down so that you have them to look back on in the future. I have my yearly planning guide from 2022 for 2023.
And now I'm doing mine 2023 for 2024. So I want you to write this stuff down. It's really helpful to go back and see what you wrote down the year before. So you're going to write down your current owner pay and then your next year goal for yourself. What are you going to pay yourself out of that gross revenue in your business for the next year? After you've written down your revenue goals, your owner's pay.
I want you to look at what your expenses were in your business.
This is what determines if your business was profitable or not. Did your gross revenue exceed your expenses? If it did not, you are operating at a deficit and you need to change something about your business. So it's really hard running a business. The bigger a business grows, the more money it takes to run.
And so it is very important that you look at these numbers and keep an eye on these numbers as you're going forward in your business. After you have revenue, owner's pay and expenses. I want you to look at all of the different revenue sources in your business and determine which one is the most profitable.
So you might, for example, in a nature based business, you might be offering summer camps. You might have afterschool groups and you might have individual services. And I want you to write down all of those different revenue sources, and I want you to try as best you can. Sometimes it can be hard because. Some expenses are related to providing. All of the services essentially.
So maybe your EMR obviously that's an expense in the business. Your electronic medical record. It obviously that's an expense in the business, but you really are. Not going to be able to put that on one revenue source, because it's for all of the revenue sources essentially. But I want you to try to look at each of your revenue sources in your business and determine how much money you brought in from each one, because that will help you know, where to focus your energy going forward.
Maybe. For example, you notice that summer camps are actually very profitable for whatever reason. And that could indicate to you that maybe you should try to do a few more weeks of summer camp and in the summer in order to boost the profits in your business a little bit. So it's just an example, but that is some of the financial planning that I want you to do.
I want you to know your numbers and I want you to set goals for the future when you're doing this financial planning.
After you have these goals. Get out a blank sheet of paper and write down. Actually do the calculations for how are you going to meet those financial goals in the new year? Write out how many individual kids is it gonna take? How many sessions is it going to take?
How many weeks of summer camp is it going to take? How many groups is it going to take? How many pop-up playgroups is it going to take whatever revenue sources you have in your business? Actually write down how many it is going to take in the coming year. And what is the mix of services that is going to provide the income to hit that revenue goal that you just made for your business for the coming year. This is very important.
I call it profit planning. You have to plan in order to make profit. And so plan out what services you are going to provide in order to hit that revenue goal. All right. So that is all the planning that you must do every year. No excuses have to do it. If you don't do that, you're going to be entering the year blind.
Okay. You have to do those things, mindset and personal growth and financial growth and revenue looking at revenue and projections.
The rest of the planning areas are actually optional and they depend on where you're at in business.
Just to review the areas are diversifying revenue streams, financial systems, and organization. Product development and growth. Team and culture. Physical resources, such as supplies or space. Systems productivity and efficiency. Visibility and growth and customer satisfaction. All right. So let's say that you are in a place where your business, let's say you've just started out in business.
You've been running your business for about a year and you focus solely on individual services. But maybe next year you want to branch out. No nature, pun intended, but intended anyway. You want to branch out and you want to offer groups. So that fact that you want to offer groups and you want to diversify revenue streams means that you need to focus on that planning area.
Number three, diversify revenue streams. And in that area, you want to ask yourself some specific questions in order to help you plan for starting that new service. So some of those questions might be what are the new revenue sources you want to create? And I really want you, when you are thinking about this to consider your yearly revenue goals, your own energy. The team you have, does the team have capacity to diversify this revenue stream and offer this new service?
The current projects you have and the resources that you have available in your business. So maybe you don't have land available to offer group services. That could be an issue. So there's lots of things to consider. Think through all of those things. Don't create new revenue streams if you do not have capacity in your business. So we are tentatively creating a very small new revenue stream in my private practice next year. But it is very much related to the other services that we provide. So I'll share a little bit about that here, because it might help you all.
So we had played around with the idea of starting nature enrichment groups. So my practice has specialized for many years, eight years now in nature-based therapy groups. So what we provide is therapy. It is not an enrichment service. It is therapy. We do a assessment, we write goals. We give progress updates to parents.
We provide consult. We are doing therapy. We're documenting on goals every week. The therapy process, right? So I have been really adamant in the business that we are not going to ever be an enrichment program, even our summer camps, we bill them as therapy services. They are billed as therapy intensives.
We write goals for them. So one of my employees really wanted to do like parent and child groups like tot groups for younger kids. We usually start around age four in my practice is when kids start in our groups. So she wanted to work with 18 month olds to three-year-olds. I thought it was a great idea.
I love it. Like the market research I did with parents seemed to indicate that people would be interested in it. And we thought about doing this as just a playgroup, and it would be a lower cost service and therapy. And. As I started planning for it. I realized there were a lot of things that we needed to take into consideration that would be very different than what we did for our therapy groups.
And then it hit me that why don't we just run them like therapy groups? Why don't we just run these services? Like they are parent and child groups, but they are therapy and we're going to write goals for the kids and we're going to do assessments and all of that. . So that's what we're going to attempt to do. I share that story because that is a good example of business thinking to keep things aligned in your business so that you're not overextending yourself and creating some whole new service that's completely different from everything else you do.
And then confusing your customers about what's going on in your business. So a confused customer does not buy. If you don't hear anything else from this episode about yearly business planning. Then remember, do not confuse your customers because people don't buy, if they're confused. I think by keeping these groups as therapy groups, we are actually aligning more with what the overall mission of my businesses, which is to provide therapy services, nature-based therapy services for kids.
So I'm going to be doing a little diversifying of revenue in my business next year. And I want you to think about all of those things to make sure that you're ready to do that. If that is the case for your practice. Okay, so that's diversifying revenue. Area four is financial systems. And basically in that one, I just want you to ask yourself if you need to put in place any new systems to manage your business finances. If you don't have an accountant, get an accountant, don't try to do your own books. I've said it. A million times on this podcast and, but do not try to do your own books, get an accountant right away. You need that accountability. So again, that's planning area three and planning area four diversify in revenue and financial systems.
Now those areas are not areas that you need to focus on. If those are not things that you need to do in your business and the coming year, you don't need to worry about those.
. Let's move forward into operations. So the areas of operations are
product development and growth, team and culture, physical resources and systems.
So the reality is that you might need all of these. And I have coached a lot of nature-based business owners. And I've seen behind the scenes of a lot of businesses. And the reality is that most people really need to work on systems and. Product development and growth, like making sure their services are, we should probably call that service development and growth in our field because product development and growth makes it sound like you're creating a. Physical product or something, maybe you are in your business, but for the most part, I think most of you are providing services that are listening to this podcast. So under operations.
When I look at those four areas of product development and growth team and culture, physical resources or systems. Personally, I feel good about my business in all of those areas, but for me growing my business right now, I am going to be focusing on team and culture. That is something that I'm always having to focus on. And honestly, I, you guys know I'm a hundred percent real.
I tell the truth and I am not very good at managing a team. I feel like I'm not, I feel like I have a tendency to just want to get down to business and not connect and do the kind of connection that needs to happen. Like my lead therapist always runs that part of the meeting.
She's always like Laura, we got to do the connection piece and I'm like, oh my gosh. Yeah, sorry. I forgot. I was diving right into the agenda, so I think knowing yourself as a business owner and knowing where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are, might help, what you need to focus on in these different planning areas.
So team and culture is often one that I am working on and I'm working on myself in terms of how to be a better leader and how to support team members and be encouraging to people. I'm not a very encouraging person by nature. Like I just. I just want to put my head down and do the work. It's just my personality.
And so I have to work really hard on encouraging my team on making sure people feel appreciated and valued because I do value them very much but if I'm not sharing that and if I'm not making an effort to communicate that to my team, that's a problem. I want to be a good leader. I want them to know and feel that they are appreciated.
So those different areas are things that you may think about. If you want to develop a new product, so that's planning area five. You want to be thinking about new systems, you need to put in place to develop a new product or service in your business. So this might go along with diversifying revenue streams.
That might be something you might want to focus on. Along with that. Okay. Team and culture. Some of the questions you can ask yourself are what staffing changes are needed to support your business goals next year. What positions do you need to hire for what systems do you need to put in place to manage your team better next year? And what can you do to improve the team culture in your current business? Planning area seven is physical resources.
That is if you want to invest in some type of hardware software supplies space. Like maybe you're in a place in your business where you really need to work on getting, you really want to work on getting private land. That's something that you want to focus on for the year. That's one of the goals in your annual plan is to find private land to offer services. Then you would be looking at a goal in the physical resources area.
Planning area eight is processes and systems.
And in that section, if you choose to focus on that, I want you to think about what is not working right. Right now in your business, and how do you need to create systems around that? What do you need to invest in. In order to know how to create those systems. Maybe it is. You're going to get an EMR for the first time.
Maybe you're going to invest in a coaching program that will help you create those systems. Maybe you need to invest in people. Maybe you need to hire someone to help you create those systems. So there's lots of, there's lots of different things you can think about in the processes and systems area too.
Now we're onto the last two areas and these are marketing.
And again, remember you're not planning and all of these areas. I want you, as you're listening to this episode, I hope you're thinking. And that doesn't really relate to me or, oh my gosh, that's something I really need to work on. It should be. Pretty obvious to you from a business owner standpoint, the things that you really need to work on as I'm talking through these different planning areas. So the last two are in the area of marketing and really it's marketing and sales.
I know they're two different things, but marketing should lead to sales. So I lump them together under the marketing kind of umbrella. Even though technically business people would tell me they're different things. In the marketing section, I, the two planning areas are visibility and growth and customer satisfaction.
So these are related to the idea of getting the word out there about your services. So for my practice this year, we have had to focus on visibility and growth for my new branch in my practice because I'm running my practice in California, where I used to live, but I started a new branch where I live now in Madison, Wisconsin.
And so I've had to focus on visibility and growth for my my practice. And some of the things that you can think about are, what can you do to increase visibility of your business online in the next year? And then what can you do to increase visibility locally of your business? So I think for those of us who are running nature based businesses, many of us are local service providers.
And having local connections is really important. So are there events you could host or collaborate with other people in the community in order to get your face and your business in front of more people personally? So in-person. Especially coming out of COVID. I just feel like people are longing for more in-person connection. Now I know we're a few years past, it's almost 20 24 and COVID happened in 2020, but it was really like a couple years long. And so I do think people value those in-person connections, especially for local businesses.
And then the other question for this visibility and growth area to ask yourself is how can you better track conversions from your marketing efforts?
So making sure that you're taking data on all of these things is really important. And that might be another episode in this episode. I just want to share with you that kind of general planning areas, but you do want to make a goal in the areas that you choose for your yearly plan. Finally, the last area is customer satisfactions, planning area number 10.
So what can you do to ensure customer satisfaction in your business? Do you have a way for clients to give you honest, anonymous feedback? And if you don't, that is something I would highly encourage you to do is to implement some sort of system where your clients can give you honest, anonymous feedback.
And I say anonymous because people tend to be nice. Most people, you might get an occasional bad apple who wants to just give you their piece of mind cause they're mad about something, but like really. Most of us work with clients that we really love, and they generally are going to be very hesitant to tell you the truth, unless you ask them in some sort of anonymous format.
So getting a system in place for customers to give you anonymous feedback is one thing that you could possibly work on in an annual plan. And then if you don't already ask your clients for reviews and testimonials, this is something you need to be doing.
Getting online reviews and testimonials on your website is really important as a nature-based practice to show the benefit of your service to people who may be interested. Now. After you listen to this episode, what has resonated with you? What are you going to actually write goals for in your business for the coming year?
So there's these 10 areas. I want you to have a mindset and personal growth goal, and I want you to have a financial revenue goal besides that you can pick one or two of the areas that I discussed and write a goal in those areas. And what you're going to do is have this, have these annual business goals written. Written out and you're going to put them where you can see them every day in the space where you work the most.
And when you feel discouraged or tired in your business, or like you have a day where you don't know what you should be working on, because as an entrepreneur, you have to be the one to crack the whip and make yourself do the stuff when you need to do it. This list will help be like a north star to help, what you need to be doing in your business.
So on those days, when you feel unfocused, you can look at your annual business goals and do the things that you need to do in order to hit those business goals. There's a lot more to it. You have to write quarterly goals as well, and you have to really be focused and there's more system behind it. But right now, what I want you to be thinking about is those 10 business planning areas, your mindset and personal development goals, your revenue goals for next year. As well as the one or maybe two other areas that you want your business to focus on in the coming year. And then make that your yearly plan. Okay, that is it for today.
Next week, I will be sharing with you. My year in review episode of both of my businesses, so that you can see behind the scenes of my business, I'm going to share my revenue numbers, what I paid myself, all the things that I have done for the last several years. And you can see behind the scenes of my business in the hopes that it will support you in growing yours!
So I'll see you next time. Bye!.
Thanks for joining me today for therapy in the great outdoors. If you want valuable advice, as you start or grow your nature based pediatric practice, get my free ebook, the nature based practice roadmap. It is a guide to help you focus and avoid. as you start or grow your outdoor work with children. In it, I share the four stages of nature based practice, what you need to focus on and common mistakes to avoid in each stage, plus a checklist of specific action steps for you to take at each stage in the process.
Get it at therapyinthegreatoutdoors. com roadmap. So until next time, get outside, connect, reflect, and enjoy therapy in the great outdoors.