Episode 088: Translating Your Business Dreams into Strategic Action Plans with Katie Wussow

December 14, 2021

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Katie Wussow is sharing all about small business strategic planning to turn your big dreams into reality in this week's podcast episode!

What is Small Business Strategic Planning?

Welcome to Chasing Simple. I’m your host – Amanda Warfield, and you’re listening to episode 088. If you tuned in and enjoyed last week’s episode all about how I determine my yearly goals, you’re going to LOVE this week’s episode. Today I’m joined by Katie Wussow and we’re diving even deeper into setting and achieving our business goals. If you’re looking to turn your business dreams into reality, Katie is here to talk through small business strategic planning with us!

Katie is a business coach who helps creative entrepreneurs start and grow profitable businesses so they can make a living doing what they love. She focused on helping passionate creatives translate their dreams into strategic plans and practical action steps. And, she’s a native Texan living in Washington D.C. with her husband and two daughters.

This interview is a great way to wrap up our guest interviews for 2021, so let’s go ahead and dive on in!

Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Katie Wussow is sharing all about small business strategic planning to turn your big dreams into reality in this week's podcast episode!

Katie Wussow is a business coach who helps creative entrepreneurs start and grow profitable businesses so they can make a living doing what they love. She focuses on helping passionate creatives translate their dreams into strategic plans and practical action steps. She’s a native Texan living in Washington D.C. with her husband and two daughters.

Katie’s Website

The Game Changer Podcast

Katie’s Instagram

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Rather Read? – Here’s the Transcript!

*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.

Welcome to Chasing Simple. I’m your host, Amanda Warfield. And you’re listening to Episode 88. If you tuned in and enjoyed last week’s episode, all about how I determine my yearly goals. You’re going to love this week’s episode. Today, I’m joined by Katie Russo and we’re diving even deeper into setting and achieving our business goals.

Katie is a business coach who helps creative entrepreneurs start and grow profitable businesses so that they can make a living doing what they love. She’s focused on helping passionate creatives translate their dreams, industry, teaching plans and practical action steps. And she’s a native Texas living in Washington, DC with her husband and two daughters.

This interview is a great way to wrap up our guest interviews for 2021. So let’s go ahead and dive on in.

Katie. I am so excited that you’re here. I know we’ve been talking about doing this for awhile now, so I’m really, really pumped, but why don’t you start us off by just introducing who you are and what it is that.

 Absolutely. Thank you for having me on I’m Katie Russo. I’m a business coach. I specialize in helping creative entrepreneurs develop real plans for their businesses. A lot of creative entrepreneurs get into building a business because they’re really, really good at what they do. They may not necessarily be experts in how to build a business. And so that’s what I help people with. 

I love that. Can we dive into, what do you mean by real plans? 

That is a great question. So most people are operating in their business by collecting tasks, collecting to do’s. I see this person over here doing that. I see this person I’m here doing this. I heard somebody say, I need to do that. And sort of, we collect this disjointed list of things that we’re doing, and it may or may not come together to form a holistic and cohesive.

Plan to make your business successful in the longterm and my background, as you know, before I was a business coach, I was a consultant. I have a business degree. I did strategic planning and financial planning for my clients. And so I help people think through, if this business is going to be a success in the long-term like 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now, what are the things that you need to have in place? And how can that plan for your business dictate those tasks and those studies that you’re doing in the day-to-day. 

That’s so interesting. What was it like for you to jump from helping others in more of a corporate setting, make those strategic plans and then jumping into doing that for yourself in your own business and also for all of your clients?

Yeah. So I started this business back in 2017 and, it was a challenge. There were a lot of challenges with translating what I did on a corporate level to a solo preneur, smaller client. I had to translate, a lot of things about what I did. I changed my language. I changed the way that I interact with my clients.

I, it wasn’t like I could just copy and paste what I did in my corporate job. And it would make sense for, for my new clientele. And so there were a lot of learning experiences with that, but then. My own business. I knew. How to make a plan. but one of the biggest things I struggled with early on, and I think a lot of people, first of all, I still struggle with it.

I’m not here to say that I’ve fully overcome this, but I think a lot of people also struggle with it is thinking I could make progress faster than I could. I very vividly remember setting a goal my first year in business that I wanted to make a hundred thousand dollars a year working 20 hours a week.

And. You know, full disclosure still haven’t met that goal. I’m almost five years in. I work more than 20 hours a week and I make less than a hundred thousand dollars a year. But I think that a lot of people will resonate with, like, we think I’m just going to work really, really hard for this really short amount of time.

And I’m going to crush my goals and that’s not really how goals work. That’s not really how life works. And I think probably some people experience the, you know, that rapid path to success, but I didn’t. And so it’s been, it’s been a challenge learning how to not bite off more than I can chew and pursue meaningful goals that still stretch me as a business owner, but that are more attainable for the timeframe that I’m looking at.

And that’s a learning experience to really learn how quickly you can move, how quickly you can expect to see results and how you can be smart about what you’re doing. Instead of, just try to come out the gate too hot. 

Okay. I think that probably everyone listening can relate to that. I know that I can.

I started my business a year after you. So in 2018 and the, end of last year, I set the goal this year. I was going to make six figures of six figures. Right. About a month. And I was like, Nope, this isn’t, I need to change this goal. And I know that there are a lot of gold girls out there.

Who’d be like, you can’t change goals like that. You can’t. I knocked my goal down to 40,000, so less than half, but it was way more attainable. And I realized very quickly in January that I was only stressing myself out and making poor decisions because I was stressed out because I had made this crazy, huge, not realistic goal for the year I wanted to jump

from what I think last year made 14,000. I know I’ve shared this on the podcast before, and I want to jump from that to six figures. It was crazy. It was not realistic. And I’m curious what tips you have for everyone listening on how they can set reasonable goals so that they don’t have to do that.

I think you were so smart to adjust that goal. I like a lot of people like to use the word realistic when it comes to goal setting. And I. I think it’s, I think that’s right. I think we should set realistic goals. Sometimes. I don’t like to use the word realistic, because I think for some people that automatically translates into their minds as comfortable. I need to be comfortable with my goals and I don’t think that’s necessarily right. I think our goals should feel challenging, but also be attainable considering the journey and the path that we’re on. And I think you made a really smart move of really honoring where you are in your business and setting a goal that is still going to be a push, but also Is attainable for where you are in your business right now. And also like sometimes you don’t know. And I think a lot of people don’t set goals because they really struggled to know. I don’t really know what I can achieve. I’ve never done this before I don’t know what’s realistic. I don’t know how much money I’m going to make. I don’t know how many clients I’m going to get this year. And that’s okay. Because what I always tell people in that instance is set a goal and you can change it. You change it, right? You can change the scale of the goal that you set. I don’t always like to see people completely change.

The goal itself. So say you had a goal of, earning a certain amount of revenue from your business. I wouldn’t want you to change that goal necessarily to something totally out of left field. Like I’m going to start a different business. I’m going to make six figures from that business. Right. We want to keep the same idea behind the goal, but it’s totally fine to change the scale because the reality is if you hadn’t changed that goal to be something that you could attain, you would have abandoned it.

that’s, not useful either. 

Yeah, absolutely. And spoiler alert for everyone listening. I’ll do, I’m sure I’ll do a recap at the end of the year, but right now it’s September 20th. As we’re recording this, I’m on track to hit that goal, but I’m still not at that goal yet. And so if I had kept the a hundred thousand dollar goal for this year, my mindset would not be in a good place.

We’ll put it that way. I love what you said. Attainable instead of realistic. And I love that little switch in just the language and the, to sound like a gen Z-er the vibes that those different words put out. Right. It’s so different. And I love that. I’m definitely going to attainable goals from now on. Once you set an attainable goal. How do you get there? What do you do? What kind, how do you create a plan to get you from where you are to this attainable goal? That also is going to also stretch you? 

That’s a really good question. So I think the first thing to understand about, about planning and goal setting is it’s actually really, really important that you set the right goals because the purpose of goals is you’re a solopreneur, I’m a solopreneur, we I have limited time and resources. And the purpose of goal setting is to get us focused, to focus our energy and our resources and attention on the right things that are going to put us on a path of long-term success. That’s the point of goal setting. And so actually before you can figure out that that’s what everybody wants to talk about is everyone wants to talk about how do you, how do you make a plan to achieve the goals that you set, but you actually have to stop.

One layer above that before you can get to tasks and projects and to as, and action items and campaigns and promotions and all of those things you have to talk about. what are the most important priorities in your business right now? And are your goals reflective of your priorities?

So here’s an example. a lot of people. Solo preneurs, creative entrepreneurs. People in this space are really focused on audience growth. They’re thinking about how can I get more? How can I get more reach from my social media content? How can I get more email subscribers? how can I get eyeballs on my business? But for a lot of people, audience growth, probably isn’t a strategic priority of the business, right? if you have a business and you. Aren’t making enough money. You aren’t making enough money to pay your bills. You don’t have enough clients coming in the door. Audience growth may not be the best place to focus your energy and attention. And so if you set a goal that is like, I want to get X, Y, Z number of Instagram followers. Even if you hit that goal, is it really going to matter in your business if you’re not making enough money? And so before you can talk about making a plan to reach your goals, you have to ask yourself the question, is this a good goal for me to be chasing?

Because just because of goal is smart, right? We know we all know the acronym specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented, time bound. That’s the acronym I like to use. We know that acronym. Right. So, but just because something is smart, doesn’t mean it is wise. It doesn’t mean it is a good idea for you to be focusing your energy and attention on that.

So we have to start with priorities and then set goals that reflect those priorities. And then we can talk about, plans. 

I love that so much. as an aside for everyone listening, my marketing heart loves that example because it doesn’t matter how many people are on your email list. How many followers you have, what matters is engaging and building a relationship with the people already in your audience.

 That’s a totally other topic. Just want to point that out for everyone listening. so once you’ve said you’ve got these wise goals that you’ve set, then what’s the next step, 

I like to advise people, especially if you’re, just getting started with this whole concept of operating from a plan.

Is, you have a 90 day period of time, you have one main priority, one main goal, and then a sales school for that 90 period of time, a priority, a goal, a sales goal. And those are sort of, those are your, your true North’s. If I can pluralize that for a 90 day period of time, and that’s when you can say, okay, what are the projects?

And the tasks that I commit to that are going, that I think are going to help me get closer to that goal. Here is where a lot of people go astray. A lot of people set really wimpy goals and really ambitious to do lists, right? We’re like, ah, I think I’m going to set a goal that feels safe, but then when it comes to my to-do list, I’m going to pretend like I have a team of 30 people working with me to get this gigantic list of things done to help me get to this really wimpy goal.

 I’m going to need us to flip those things. Right. We need to set goals. Like I said before, that are a challenge that are a push they’re attainable, but we’re going to have to work hard to get there, but then when you’re deciding what goes on in your to-do list for the quarter, I want you to be extremely critical, extremely discerning, and only put things on that list that you can actually accomplish.

Right. I want you to set a list for the quarter, believing that you can get 80 to 90% of the things done because a hundred percent is often, you know, often not realistic, even the most. Even folks that have had a lot of practice creating plans, we all bite off more than we can shoot. Right? So we want to make a to-do list that is extremely realistic and set goals that are more of a push.

And the other thing I’ll say about tasks and projects that you put in your 90 day plan. A lot of people say, well, how do I know what tasks and projects are going to get me closer to my goal? And the answer to that is you don’t right. You don’t, you don’t really know which strategies and tactics are going to work for your business until you try them.

So I like to tell people you don’t compromise on your priority. You don’t compromise on your goals, but if you are implementing some strategies and some tactics and some projects. And they’re not working for you. You can swap them out for something else because the point of their plan is to reach your goal.

If you need to experiment with a few different things in order to get there, that’s perfectly okay. We need to stay true to our goals and our priorities, but be flexible with the strategies and the tactics that we choose. 

So for everyone who is doing the whole, okay, I have this thing I want to do. I’m going to go to Pinterest, gather all the different information I can about this one thing. And I’m going to fill up my to-do list, with all these random things that are going to help me quote, unquote, get to my goal. What do you suggest that they do not knowing exactly what’s going to get them to their goal? How do you suggest they narrow down what their plan is in the tasks that are in their plan?

Yeah. Yeah. So the first thing that you really need to do is be honest with yourself about What are the things that are actually going to get you to your goal? So, one very easy example is a lot of people, you know, they will set a goal. Like I need to get six clients this quarter, just pick a number six. It’s two clients a month and you need to start thinking about what are the things that have actually helped me get clients in the past. and a lot of people will, want to put things in their 90 day plan. Like, oh, I need to redo my, my sales page on my website, or I need to create three wheel reels a week, or I need to do this. I need to do that. When really a lot of their clients have, come from networking have come from word of mouth. Referrals have come from these more kind of personal marketing strategies. And so you need to be honest with yourself and be able to explain in a linear way how the things that you’re doing in your plan in your plan are going to get you to your goal.

And so if, if you have a list of seven things, seven projects that you want to try, and six of them are an experiment we might want to, pair that back and say, I’m going to do three or four things that have worked for me before that have worked for me in the past, and that I know I can repeat.

And then I’ll try, you know, two or three things that are new that are more experimental that I’m testing. And I know sometimes it feels like especially early on in business, like everything is a test and everything is an experiment and that’s okay. that’s just a part of this business, but if you’ve been doing this for a while for a couple of years, then you should have a good sense of, like, I know if I, do these things, they will probably work.

So I’m going to do these things and these things are new. So maybe I’ll try one or two new things this quarter and then see, see where we are. 

I love that. Yes, experimentation is so important. But also you have to have some tried and true practices in there to, to move that needle for you. 

Yeah. And I think too, learning to be a little bit more discerning about the advice and the influences that you allow to get into your brain, it’s very, very tempting to look around at things that are working for other people and say like, gosh, this person is getting so much traction from Pinterest. I’ve got to get my Pinterest strategy. you know, started or, this person is really saying I need to do a tripwire funnel. So I got to get a trip.

There’s all of these different things that we could do. Um, and learning to be a little bit more discerning and as some basic questions, like why is it that this is working so well for that person? What makes that a strategic decision for that person to do? why do I think it would work for me?

Why do I think it would be a good compliment to what I’m doing in my business? To ask some questions before you just kind of assume. Oh, this person’s doing that. I’ve got to do it. 

As much as we all experiment in our businesses. It’s important to remember that a lot of what we see front-facing and other businesses is also an experiment just because we see them doing it doesn’t necessarily mean.

Working for them. It could be something that they’re just throwing out there as well to see if it works. And I know I fallen into that trap in the past, where I’m like, oh, that person makes a lot of money and they’re really big name. And this is what this aspect of their business looks like. I need to do it that way.

that might have had zero track record and it was a totally new thing. They tried. And I just tried to make it work in my own business without any of the background, strategic information. And it falls flat because. There is no strategy and I’m not even sure what I saw them doing was proven. 

If it even worked. Yeah, exactly, exactly. And I think this is, if there is, if there is any role for coaches, mentors, and educators in that category of people, I truly think it is helping you. Focus on the right things in the right order. and you won’t always get it. Perfect. Like I, I have a background in strategic planning.

this is my strength. My core strength is being strategic and doing the right things in the right water. I’ve still gotten things wrong in my journey. I’ve I can look back and say like, “I shouldn’t have been worried about that at that phase. I should have been worried about this thing over here.” And so it’s okay.

You’re not going to get it perfectly, but I think if you’re in a place in your business where you feel like everything is important and you can’t figure out what is the most important priority to be focusing on right now, bringing in some advisors, some friends, family, but also subject matter experts is, uh, is a really good thing to do.

Absolutely because you can’t focus on everything, like you said earlier. You can’t grow as quickly as you think you can. And we can only focus on really just one thing at a time in order to start moving that needle. We can’t do it all. Especially as solopreneurs and side hustlers. 

Yeah. And it’s hard. It’s really hard because I serve creative people, creative people have a lot of ideas. And I work with a lot of people that an idea comes into their head and they want to do it tomorrow. One of the biggest, most important disciplines I think that we can learn to embrace as entrepreneurs is the discipline to sit on our ideas, to evaluate them.

Even when we decide that they are going to be the right decision to save them for the right time. those disciplines it’s really, really hard to do. But I I’ve been thinking about this a lot in my life. in a lot of different areas. I have kids in a pandemic which has been a whole journey and I have a business.

And so I think one of the most frustrating parts of, operating my business in the last 18 months has been continuing to make consistent progress. When the progress that I am making is slower than it would otherwise. it’s really easy to just say, you know what? I don’t want to do this until I can, go, you know, 110% in, I don’t even want to try.

And I think a lot of us are very all or nothing in a lot of different areas, whether it’s, you know, health and fitness. or hobbies, or if we’re like, if I can’t go all in, then I don’t want to do it at all because it’s too frustrating. but I think learning to make consistent progress, even when the progress is slower than we want is a very important thing to learn how to, do.

And it’s a very important thing for the long-term sustainability of your business, because something is going to happen at some point, that’s going to slow you. and how are you going to continue to show up and continue to make consistent progress? Even if it’s not as fast as you would like to be running.

Absolutely, that self-discipline is probably the most important skill that anyone can have as an entrepreneur. When you need to show up, even when it doesn’t feel good to show up, that’s the only way to keep moving forward. I wanted to touch on what you said about putting your ideas to the side and holding on to them. And I think that this is something I see my clients over and over and over again, they get that shiny object syndrome. This is such a good idea, but I need to do it right this second. It’s a good idea. Now. It will still be a good idea. 90 days from now, it’ll still be worth doing 90 days from now. But if, if it’s something that you felt like, oh, I have to do it right this very second, or it’s not going to be worth doing, it’s probably not worth doing. 

Right? And I would add to that by saying a lot of people, they, they want to do all of their ideas now. And ironically, that’s why none of their ideas are actually getting done. And the only way that those fun awesome ideas are going to happen is if you get yourself into a process and a rhythm of like doing what’s on your plate now finishing it. And that is what is going to make space for all of those other ideas that you have down the road. And if you are always starting and never finishing then It’s just an illusion that you’re, that you’re actually able to, to execute on your ideas. Now you’re actually not executing on anything. 

Yes, absolutely. And with every project that you complete, the next project builds on top of that to continue to build your business and to move things forward. So you have to finish what you start otherwise that shiny object syndrome wins and you stay stuck. Not moving. I stayed in that place. Two two and a half years of my business, because that’s exactly what I was doing was jumping from idea to idea, to idea and not actually seeing anything through.

Yeah. And that’s, that’s killer for your results. I I’ve had worked with clients like that before that they were just on this hamster wheel of I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do this without ever thinking through. Hold up. What, uh, what am I actually trying to accomplish right now? And what are the smartest ways for me to spend my time and energy in order to just do that and all of these other projects, they’re probably good ideas, but I can do them later. Right now. I need to focus on making money to feed my family or, you know, clarifying my niche or whatever it is that the strategic, thing to focus on is.

So other than hiring a business strategist, which is always a great idea, what is one action step that all the listeners can take away from this today to know what to focus on, whether it is the right thing that they need to be focusing on? 

Absolutely. So I think the thing that I would suggest to do is to get. Really quiet. Maybe take a morning off this week. Block off a morning to go on a walk, block out the noise, get quiet with yourself and to answer the question. What is the most important thing for me to be focusing on right now? And if you come up with five things or six things that feel important, then you can ask yourself a follow-up question, which I, borrowed this question from a book called The One Thing by Gary Keller, which is, which is a really good book.

that’s really about prioritization, but if you feel like you have a bunch of different things that are important and you don’t know what is the most important, then you can ask yourself the question. ” What is the one thing that if it was resolved, all of these other things on my list would go away or would become easier?” Like what is the one thing that makes everything else on your plate? A little bit lighter, a little bit easier and maybe not even an issue at all. And so that’s really what I would, I would suggest is, is get quiet, take social media off your phone, go for a walk, go do something rejuvenating.

And then come back and ask yourself the question. What is the most important thing for me to be doing right now in my business, and then everything else true. Once you have that priority, all of the rest of the pieces of planning are much, much easier to figure out. 

I love that. Other than The One Thing, is there another book recommendation that you have for everyone?

I love. The Dip by Seth Godin. Have you read it? 


I feel like it’s a lesser known Seth Godin book and I don’t even know. I think my husband told me about it. I don’t even know how I came across this book, but it’s a really, very short, very wonderful book about perseverance and what it really takes. To be great at something and be successful at something. Cause I think we’ve all experienced in business. Like we have these, we have these moments where we’re like, everything is going awesome. And then the next hour we’re like, everything is terrible. And so it really helps to interpret those moments in a more accurate way and understand that.

Hardship is a part of doing something big of doing something great and being successful. So highly recommended. It’s very short. So even if you’re not necessarily like a non-fiction reader, I think it’ll be an encouragement.

 I have not heard of that one, but I definitely didn’t go read it because I feel those things hourly. Everyone does. I hope, I think, this has been wonderful and I know that everyone. It has so many gyms that they’ve taken away from this. Where can they find you so that I can continue to get to know you better? 

Sure. I am on Instagram at Katie Russo, just my first name and last name. And my website is Katie.

Perfect. And everyone, if you hear all of these bangs and bumps and screams in the background pan, and he says, hello, as usual, Katie, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it. And I just, I think this is such an important topic of conversation and I’m so glad that you were here. 

I really appreciate you having me.

Thanks so much.

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