As the end of the year approaches, it’s a natural time to reflect on how this past year went. Yet, so often, we steamroll right into the next year with New Year’s resolutions we’ve posted on Facebook.
The same is true in your business, where one year after the next can feel like —when the same frustrations, challenges, and stagnation keeps repeating as if you’re in a perpetual time-loop.
Promises and resolutions are not enough. They’re a start in admitting that something is not how you want it to be. But inspiration alone doesn’t pay the bills.
So how do you build an Business Plan for the upcoming year that actually works? Here are the steps to creating a practical and executable plan.
- Create time to strategize. With all of the last-minute sales, holiday plans and typical overwhelm, now is the time to carve-out your strategic hours to work ON your business and create a plan. The technician inside of you will most likely procrastinate on this first step until it’s too late, and you’re back to the grind of the next year.
- Create Your 3 Year Company Vision. Do you know where you are driving the vehicle of your business? If there’s not a larger context for where and why you’re going in the direction you intend, it makes it quite difficult to have a yearly action plan that can spell out the steps necessary to build toward your goals.
- Take an honest assessment of where your business is today. Get out a piece of paper (or an electronic doc) and make note of what you need to:
- Start doing
- Stop doing
- Continue doing based on last year’s results
What’s not working in your marketing activities? Where are you dropping the ball with customers? How can you improve your profit margin? This one step alone will make a huge difference in creating new strategies and action steps for the coming year.
- Prioritization. What comes first: purchasing that new CRM or getting your budget in-place for the coming year? Should you update your website, or do you need to hire a new staff member to free yourself up with more time? Assess which action steps will have the most positive impact on your business and place them in order. And then double-check to see if that’s really true.
- Breaking it down into bite-sized steps. This is the critical step that often gets missed. It’s one thing to declare lofty or even practical goals for your business. It’s another thing to then roll-up your sleeves to look at how to break these down into smaller steps over time, and establish project plans for each initiative in the new year. This may seem time-consuming, but I guarantee you the time you take to work ON your plan will bring huge rewards in having a clear, detailed strategy for leading into the new year.
- Calendar your plan. Now that you have a sense of your top priorities, how are you going to space them out over the course of the next year? Does the order still look right when it’s down on paper? Don’t try to do everything in January—that’s not going to happen. So what is a realistic pace to achieve your goals?
- Accountability. Who’s going to be accountable for the various steps that you’ve declared? How will you create feedback loops and project management meetings to stay on top of progress? What’s your protocol if projects are running behind schedule?
As the old saying goes, you can’t have different results if you don’t have a different approach. This is your best opportunity right now to make the year to come your best year yet. Are you truly ready to lead your business? The first step is waiting.