During the season our to-do lists can get pretty overwhelming. It’s tough to find time to plan out your projects over the next few months with the mountain of tasks in front of you right now.
It’s hard to believe, but Thanksgiving week is almost upon us. After you’ve had your fill of mingling with the family and gobbling down leftover turkey sandwiches, this a great time of year to set aside a few hours to do some simple strategic goalsetting for the upcoming season.
1. Visualize long-term success
Ask yourself: what do I want my business to look like 1 year from now? What about 10 years from now? Where do I want my business to take me 30 years from now?
Success in business doesn’t come overnight, it often takes a lifetime of grinding towards milestone after milestone. It’s important to visualize what success means to you so you can start to break down your steps for getting there. Unless you know where you want your business to take you by the end of your career, it’s difficult to know which path you should take right now.
Start by identifying your long-term goals, then we'll break down each goal into bite-size pieces. Let’s say, in 30 years, you hope to:
2. Create smaller milestones
For each of your goals, set up a simple matrix to outline the smaller milestones you’ll need to reach over time in order to achieve your final goal. Here’s a quick example I made in Excel to help you get started:
At this point, you're probably thinking, "these milestones are nice to know, but I still don't know how I'm going to go about reaching them."
Luckily, you and I are on the same page. Let's talk about implementing your plan.
3. Implementation: identify your needs
For this step, let's use my sample 30-year goalsetting matrix as an example.
In 5 years, I want to hire a business manager to help grow the business. In order to attract a talented business manager, I'll need to offer this person:
Your challenge now is figuring out how to put yourself in a position to offer these things 5 years from now. What will you need?
Now you have a roadmap to hiring your business manager. Some of these tasks will be quite challenging to accomplish, like creating annual revenue growth. But others can be knocked out with little effort, like outsourcing your HR functions.
Review, re-evaluate, re-strategize
If you’re reaching your goals year after year with no trouble, you need to set more ambitious goals. If you haven’t been able to reach a single goal, maybe it’s time to scale back your plans.
Things change, new challenges emerge and new opportunities present themselves. It’s important to periodically adjust your goals so they’re always realistic and achievable.
No matter what challenges your business might run into next year, these three steps will help you make tough decisions on the spot when you don’t have time to explore all the options.
If your fancy automated uncapper breaks down halfway through a harvest or your business manager suddenly decides to switch careers, you’ll have a good idea whether or not your budget can take a 5-figure hit, and how much your long term goals might be set back.
At this point in the beekeeping season, you are likely spending time making sure your hives are in good shape heading into winter. Sometimes for me, winters just feel like a waiting game to see if my hives make it.
This post outlines some ways you can stay busy and keep your mind off wondering how the bees are doing.
Determine cause of deadouts
How many hives did you lose over the summer? What caused those losses? What steps can be taken to improve survival rate?
These are all important questions to ask at the end of a season. To improve in beekeeping, we need to evaluate our mistakes and figure out how those could be corrected. Sure, natural occurrences and uncontrollable factors are sometimes the cause, but identifying areas of improvement means better success in the future.
Review hive records
We all agree that it’s important to keep records on your hive management, but I never hear anyone talk about what to do with your records once the season’s over. Right now is a great time to organize your notes and look for some insights: what areas of hive management can I improve on?
If you don’t already, consider storing your records digitally so you can quickly refer back to past seasons’ data. Microsoft Excel is easy to learn and it can be a really powerful tool for learning from your records.
Visualize hive record data
If you’ve done a good job keeping your records organized, you can use Excel to create a “scorecard” to summarize the season. Boiling the entire year down to a few key statistics is a great way to evaluate your success and compare your results to past seasons. Your scorecard can be something as simple as this:
The more details you include, the better. If you know that most of your August dead outs came from one bee yard, you may want to move those hives to another site next spring.
If you know that 15 out of 17 July dead outs were caused by wax moth infestation, set a reminder to make some traps next June and find a place to store your empty supers where they’re safe from wax moths.
Evaluate your season
Lastly, see how well you reached your targets this season! Was your season successful all around? In need of improvement in certain areas?
Compare your scorecard with the goals you set at the beginning of the season; which ones you achieved and which ones fell short, and see if you are on track to meet your long term goals.
Check out Wyatt's post for more on this.
Accomplishing these tasks over the winter season will help you be more prepared leading into next year and closer to your long term goals!
Welcome to The Bee Word!
Brought to you by the leaders of The Bee Corp, the goal of this blog is to turn expert beekeepers into expert businesspeople, by helping readers overcome challenges uniquely faced by beekeeping business owners.
The Bee Word will offer resources, tools and ideas that you can apply to help make your business more efficient, organized and profitable. Also featured will be content covering major industry news, the latest in honeybee science and research, relevant public policy and economics, and expert spotlights
Our team has a combined 13 years of beekeeping experience and a diverse background of business skills and expertise:
We hope you find our posts useful and engaging. We're always open to feedback on how we can improve, so don't hesitate to reach out.
Hope you visit again soon,
-Ellie, Simon and Wyatt