It’s getting to that time of year when everything seems to speed up, blurring past us at record pace. It’s a busy time of year but it’s also the perfect time to delve deep into strategic business planning for the year ahead.
A lot of business owners tell me they will do their business planning in January, which is OK. It’s a lot better than no business planning. But would they benefit more from getting a red hot run in the last few months of the previous year? I think so.
Read on for more or listen in as I discuss it on this podcast episode.
Identifying the hits and misses
Why is it good to plan for the year ahead? It gives you real life information about what went well that year. Your hits and your misses as I sometimes like to describe it.
What was a hit? Why was it so amazing? What did you do well, and why?
Then you look at the misses. Maybe a business venture didn’t go to plan, or you had a higher team changeover than anticipated.
Business is a wonderful adventure; it’s a roller coaster. Finding time to look back and reflect on your year and then using that information going forward in the coming year is much more powerful that most realise.
Dissecting your business
Looking back on your year sooner rather than later means you can not only identify the prominent highlights and weaknesses, but you can explore each part of your business in depth. For example, your team. Who’s still with you? Who’s new? Or the services you’re offering. What’s been popular? What’s been profitable? Or, what about your prices? Do they need reviewing?
Another important section is your profit. Have you had a good look into your profit and loss and your balance sheets? Have you had a look at where you’ve been breakeven on some products? Or the billable hours and the sales figures.
You also have the opportunity to review the systems and software you have in place. How have you been using them? Are they enabling you to move towards what I call ‘business background hum’? Do you have a business that largely runs itself with the right amount of your input and your energy?
It’s all good data to pull up, print out and reflect on so you can understand the impact your business has had on your life, your employees lives and on the lives of the clients that you serve.
More importantly, it also gives you a solid base for business growth against the next calendar year.
Getting what you want from the year ahead
The next step is to get your thoughts in order in terms of what you want the next year to be. Ask yourself, what do you want your business to look like in December 2019/next year? Where will you be? Will you be bricks and mortar? Will you be mobile? What will your service delivery model look like? What will your products and pricing be? How do you know they’re going to be good? What measures and planning and number crunching do you need to know about all of that good stuff?
Who’s under the roof? Who’s on your team? Are you growing? Who is it that you need to be bringing into the team? Perhaps importantly, who do you need to be keeping in the team and what do you as the business boss have to do to keep that retention in place?
Now think about your marketing. How are you going to promote yourself locally? With the advent of telehealth, you got to show up nationally nowadays too, so how are you going to show up both online and offline? What’s your website going to look like? What are your social media profile and posts going to look like? What are you as a manager and business owner going to look like on LinkedIn? Are you toying with the idea of blogging or newsletters?
Then you need to think about your clients. Who are your customers? What are their worries? What solutions do you bring to their lives? How will they find you? Do you have interesting marketing collateral that your team are trained and confident with presenting?
Business is a numbers game
Based on your 2018 success, you should know what your business will look like in the number department. We know it spans across the financial year, so what is your growth? What are you going for? 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, 40% growth?
Going from there, you need to have a vision of what success is going to look like. Perhaps you need to throw some love at your budget so you actually know what your targets need to be in order to reach your big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGS) for revenue and profit right out across the end of 2019.
On a different note, maybe your goal is to get your head under the hood of those numbers and finances in the first place. If you’re not there yet, you are not alone. Building financial habits to work with your financial team and business mentors can boost confidence and knowledge so you better understand and can better manipulate and anticipate the numbers associated with your business.
Ending 2018 on a high
Use the next couple of months to book some time with yourself to reflect on 2018, the year that was. Highlights, lowlights, what you did that worked, what you can do to improve.
If numbers isn’t your game, step towards it and embrace it. It makes such a difference when you know how to dig into those metrics and understand the finances and the business numbers behind your business.
And as many people will be in the process of preparing for audit, and SOPs are at the front of all our minds at the moment, take the opportunity to build a bright and bold business plan for 2019.
And if you think you might need a little help with this, I’m holding an online 2019 Business Planning Virtual Workshop this November 30th (2019) from 12pm to 5pm. See here for details.