Benjamin Franklin has been credited with the famous phrase, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” We all know this to be true on some level, but how often are we guilty of just “winging it” because taking the time to plan … well … takes time? The problem with that method is that it’s not sustainable for long-term growth, and continual growth is essential for a healthy, thriving business. With the new year less than two months away, now is the time to outline your 2019 business plan so you can conquer your goals and achieve even greater success in the days ahead.
Take some time to think back on the past year. What did you accomplish? What challenges did you face? Summarize where you’ve been and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Next, take stock of your market. Where can you find areas for opportunity? What trends occurred over the last year, and what are experts predicting for 2019? Also, check up on your top competitors. Where are they focused? How did you stack up against them last year? What type of marketing campaigns are they running? Is there a part of the market that they’re dominating, and why? In what areas are they lacking? How can you differentiate yourself from the competition?
The goal of this step is to understand the bigger picture, so you can see how you fit into it. This will help you formulate clearer goals for the coming year. Use this worksheet as a guide to analyzing your current situation.
Now that you've got your bearings, it's time to start looking ahead and brainstorming what you want to accomplish for 2019. Here are three key areas to consider:
Revenue: How much money do you want to earn in the next year? Where do you want your money to come from (new clients, existing clients, investors)?
Growth: In what ways will your business expand? Will you search for new clients? Circle back to older ones to provide for their new needs? Perhaps you'll set up new referral partnerships, or even branch out into hosting seminars or teaching a class.
Improvements: What areas of your business need improving? Does your customer service need to be revamped? Are you in need of a rebrand (new logo, website, business cards)? What about operational improvements, such as new software that can speed up outdated processes? Do you need to learn new skills?
Once you have a clear picture of your goals in mind, you’ll then need to determine how you will execute on those goals.
This is where you'll define specific sales goals, outline your marketing strategy, and take any other actions that will help you accomplish your objectives. The most effective way to do this is to follow the SMART Goals technique.
Specific: What is the goal, why is it important, and how do you plan to achieve it?
Measurable: Assign a quantifiable metric to your goal, whether that’s a dollar figure or deadline.
Achievable: Impossible goals are de-motivating and make you feel like you’ve failed before you’ve started. That doesn’t mean you should aim low; just be realistic about what you can attain.
Relevant: Does the goal align with your mission, vision, and values? Is it relevant to helping you succeed in the marketplace?
Time-based: Include a deadline to hold yourself accountable. If the goal is large, break it up into smaller milestones that you can check off over time.
If you need help organizing your thoughts, Smartsheet® offers a variety of free goal-setting worksheets that follow the SMART Goals method, or check out Pinterest® for even more templates to choose from.
Building your business plan doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, your plan should be short and concise, so you’ll actually be able to follow and refer back to it. Select three to five of your top priorities for the year, and focus on achieving those. Post your business plan on your office wall, so you have a visible reminder of what you’re working toward. Finally, don’t forget to check in periodically to measure progress and adjust goals as needed.
Surrounding yourself with a team of reliable partners is a key component to achieving success. Let’s meet to discuss how we can strengthen our business plans and our relationship in the coming year.