This time of year typically prompts many to start thinking about their business plans for the year ahead. The following are some tips to help make these stages more productive.
Get your team involved
Business planning often works better when the whole team is involved. Include key staff members, your advisors (such as an accountant) and your mentor (if applicable) when making decisions. Other professionals who will contribute to what is being planning, such as an IT expert if you envisage a major website overhaul, should also be involved in the process.
Ask them to bring any ideas to the planning meetings and try to hold these away from the business to avoid getting involved or caught up with daily activities.
Review your business
Start with an initial review of the business as it stands and focus on these three key questions:
What's currently working well and should be continued in the new year?
What isn't working and should be dropped in the new year?
What has the most potential for the future of the business?
Decide on changes
With this combined thinking, some new changes may be required. For example, existing products and services may need to be adapted, new markets sought out or a complete change in the business model.
However, typically a consensus must be met for these changes to occur. Note that resistance often comes when people feel out or their comfort zone or that their jobs are being threatened. Address these issues at the start before they grow to large.
Figure out capacity
Any agreed upon changes will likely need some investment in new skills, products or services, or other capacity changes.
Get your accountant to help complete a return on investment (ROI) analysis if new equipment or even new staff are required. You'll need to know how much extra revenue needs to be generated for a reasonable payback. Also how the funds for the growth can be accessed. For example, will you need a larger credit line or new capital?
Get everyone on board
Once you've established the long term for your business, focus on the next 12 months. Set some end of year goals and work backwards to figure our how to eventually get there. Your role now is to get everyone on board by communicating the plan to them.
Consensual goals are far more motivating than imposed goals, so ensure at least your key staff are involved in goal setting. Immediate goals are a better focus than long term goals, so make sure each employee knows what's expected from them this week, month and quarter.
A large challenge with business planning is that it is often done at the beginning of the year when motivation and optimism is high. However, these emotions fade quickly when you get caught up in daily activities and new projects.
Therefore, set regular dates to review progress, such as every 90 days, otherwise your business goals won't be taken seriously. If your employees know who'll be calling them in for regular progress meetings, they will be more motivated to keep on track with what you've planned.