Its October. My neighborhood is turning spooky. Next door we have a giant spider, webs and floating ghosts. On my daily walk I encounter giant 12-feet skeletons, the married dead, Beetle Juice and yards and yards of pumpkins.

It’s equally scary to encounter another ritual of October: the seasonal yearly planning session. For fractional consultants and coaches it is a double whammy: helping your clients and helping yourself.

Planning can often feel like a treacherous journey through a haunted house where a different malevolent evil spirit awaits in each room.

The Parlor – The Waiting Room. As you step into the parlor, awaiting your client’s response to your proposal or draft plan, the relentless specter of time engulfs you. In the Parlor you must master time management to escape the time-ghost’s grasp. Invest in time management and productivity software as well as planning systems that help you cut the time it takes to produce your plans. This will ensure that time becomes your ally rather than your adversary.

The Library – A Storehouse of Knowledge. In the library, the specter of complexity looms large. As a consultant, it’s not a lack of knowledge that haunts you but the overwhelming deluge of information. Effective strategic planning demands a deep understanding of market trends, industry insights, and client needs. Invest in ongoing education, stay current with industry developments, and collaborate with experts who can illuminate your path forward. Confront this specter by distilling complexity into a clear, concise plan that both your clients and your team can easily execute.

The Kitchen – A Culinary Nightmare. Entering the kitchen, you’re confronted by the ghoul of inadequate tools. You’re here to craft a gourmet strategic plan, but your kitchen is filled with mismatched ingredients and outdated appliances. Banish this kitchen ghoul by investing in the right tools, enabling more efficient decision-making and execution. Depending on your CXO planning focus, these tools encompass data analytics software, marketing campaign management systems and financial forecasting models.

The Family Room – Spirits of Doubt and Resistance. In the family room, you meet a collection of spirits who view planning as useless or a mere game rather than a critical element of business success. Confront the naysayer, the spirit of laziness, and the spirit of inertia with the support of your own Yoda—an experienced guide. Seek out a peer community of seasoned experts or industry peers who can offer valuable insights and help you evade costly mistakes.

The Bedroom – Sound sleep or sleepless nights with the Night Hag? As we end our journey through the haunted house, it is in the bedroom where we can judge whether our approach to strategic planning will enable us and our clients to sleep soundly or face The Night Hag. You can banish the Night Hag from your dreams when you are armed with best-in-class knowledge, tools, training and a team of mentors and plan implementors.

Strategic planning for fractional consultants and coaches can seem like a journey through a haunted house, with each challenge lurking in a separate room: The Haunting of Time, The Culinary Nightmare, the Spirits of Doubt and Resistance and The Dreaded Night Hag.

However, just as brave souls conquer haunted houses, you can overcome these challenges and emerge victorious with happy clients who see, value and will implement the plan you have developed for them. And you’ll have the time and energy to develop a strategic plan of your own.