As we start 2018, it’s high time you reflect on the year that’s been and start planning so you can launch right and with minimal constraints. What’s important is to take note what you have in mind and write it down so you can easily hold yourself and your team accountable.
Involve key people. If you work solo, then there’s only you who’s accountable. If your business has a team, then you need to get the right people involved so that they can feel a sense of ownership over the outcome of your plans. Even though they don’t have the final say, just having their concerns heard is enough. The meeting should include functions of HR, finance, operations, marketing and sales represented.
Start planning. After knowing the people involved in the planning, you must make sure that your time with them is well structured and that any data or market research necessary as input is gathered and assessed by all parties present ahead of time. Next, determine your agenda for the following day.
Step 1: Reflection. Understanding where you are right now is key to knowing where you’re going. You must confront brutal facts. Invite the team to give input so you can create an atmosphere of truth. Brutal facts may include the following:
- Financial performance year-to-date up to 5 years back if available.
- Updated competitor analysis
- Market share analysis
- Sales analysis
- Consumer trends
- Marketing performance
- Operational performance
- People analysis
If all of your team members are prepared, having read the background analysis, you can start debating and creating insights. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? It’s SWOT time!
Step 2: Future planning. Now, this is the goal setting part of the plan and how far into the future you want is your choice. Setting around 1, 3 and 5 years is good as it will shape how you approach getting there.
Include revenue, profit, and market share in your goals. This could also be the time to refine or craft your vision for the type of business you want to be. Make your goals achievable by using S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. This framework lets you set out some elements of your course of action.
Step 3: Getting there. With specific goals ready, it’s time to determine the actions needed to get there. Taking the S.M.A.R.T. goals as the starting point, each person in the team should outline their plans for the functional areas they are in. The following must be determined:
- Sales forecast. By month or quarter.
- Marketing spends and strategy. Activities to get to desired market share and positioning.
- Operational budget. Required new investments.
- New services. Service another market segment. A new type of product/service offer.
- People planning. How many staff is necessary. Training required. Recruitment and retention plan.
The need for online presence
Here’s a hard truth. Many business owners still don’t use or benefit from the power of business websites.
If you still don’t have one or are using a very old website, then it’s time for an upgrade. Include website to your competitor and SWOT analysis, then consult a web development company and accomplish domain name registration right away. Registering your domain means reserving your online business address or trade name. It’s a crucial step towards a successful web presence.
In summary, business planning will take time and effort to pull off. However, it pays off big when the entire organization understands the goals and priorities including the role they need to play to achieve them.