Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan

It’s that time of year again – time to look back at the good and the bad of 2016, and look forward to 2017 with fresh energy and fresh eyes.

I’d like to share with you my reflections on last year and my plans for the year to come, with the hope that this might encourage you to do something similar – to decide what you want to make of this year, and to sketch it all out as a first step in making it a reality.

In order the wrap my head around what 2017 will look like here at Verbal To Visual, first I need to put that work within the context of a lifelong business plan that I’ve only recently defined.

My Two Educational Projects

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

I’m building a career as an independent educator, and the two projects that form the core that career are Verbal To Visual and Learn In Public.

The purpose of this project here, Verbal To Visual, is to help you build your visual thinking and visual note-taking skills in order to tap into the full power of your brain to become a better learner, a better problem-solver, and a better idea-sharer.

The purpose of Learn In Public is to help you develop a plan for sharing your skill development with others while you work toward a particular goal. When you’re willing to be vulnerable enough to share your works-in-progress with the world, you open yourself up to opportunities that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

The Structure Of Online Education

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

Each of those projects has a similar structure: I make short videos lessons that I share on YouTube and Facebook with corresponding blog posts like this one; I host a membership community for each, where we meet each week in a webinar to continue building our skills and learning from each other; and I build educational products like courses and workbooks.

In 2016 at Verbal To Visual I made 14 new video episodes, hosted 113 webinars, and made a new educational product (the course How To Make Sketchnote Videos).

At Learn In Public I made 7 new video episodes, hosted 26 webinars, and made one new product (The Learn In Public Workbook).

Not a bad year, but it could have been better, as we’ll soon discuss.

My Personal Creative Pursuits

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

In addition to those two educational projects, I’ve got a number of personal creative projects that I’m interested in pursuing.

I enjoy writing (even when void of visual references) and one day I’d like to publish a book of essays.

I enjoy studying and playing music, have a bit of experience with the trumpet, piano, guitar, and voice, and I’d even like to try my hand at recording an album one day.

I love to travel and make travel videos, and moved into a van last year which I converted into a mini-RV in order to be able to travel and work at the same time.

I want to chip away at each of those interests, but only if I’m able to tie them into the other work that I’m doing.

The Big Picture

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

Though each educational and personal project is distinct, they are also connected.

The two educational projects form the theoretical and financial foundation for my own, more personal creative pursuits.

At Verbal To Visual and Learn In Public I am developing the skills and principles that I then apply to my personal projects. Along the way I’m teaching everything I know so that I can support others who have similar interests, while also supporting myself financially.

I call this my lifelong business plan because there is enough in this single picture for me to continue exploring and building over an entire lifetime without getting bored.

Looking Back, And Forward

I’m enamored with that big picture – to a fault.

My impatience lead me, in 2016, to attempt to pursue all of those projects at once. I wanted to build everything, do all the things, and all right now.

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

Though I made some progress on each of those projects, I never felt that I had momentum with any of them.

So in 2017 I’m making a change.

Sketching Out A Lifelong Business Plan - Doug Neill - sketchnotes, visual note-taking, graphic recording

This year I’m going to have laser focus on a single project: Verbal To Visual.

I’ve got big plans here, and a number of sub-projects already in the works that I need to complete. There are lots of your questions that I’ve yet to address in these videos, lots of conversations to have within our membership community, and a number of educational products that I’m excited to build.

Those other projects aren’t going anywhere. I’ve got a whole lifetime ahead of me, and I plan to get back to them.

This year, though, I will focus. And I have the feeling that lots of good will come from that.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are your plans for 2017?

If you haven’t already, do some brainstorming around what you want this year to look like, and then sketch it out into one big picture so that you can see how it all fits together. That way you’ll have a reference to look back on for the rest of the year.

Once you’ve sketched out your plan, be sure to share it with me on Twitter or Instagram – I’d love to see what your up to.

Best of luck this year.

-Doug

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Want To Dig Deeper?

If you’re new to the idea of sketchnoting and excited to develop more visual thinking tools, I think you’d enjoy our foundational course An Introduction To Visual Note-Taking.

If you’d like to make sketchnoted videos like the one you saw here, we’ve got a course for that too! Check out How To Make Sketchnote Videos.

And if you’re an educator interested in bringing visual note-taking into your classroom, check out Sketchnoting In The Classroom.