It’s the end of another year which means it’s time for many small businesses to build a plan for 2017. It can be an arduous process for some, that requires time away from actually running your business. But, it’s critical if you’re to make any progress in the coming year. So start 2017 off with the right annual planning.
Step 1: Analyze Your Market
Things change, competitors emerge and macroeconomic landscapes shift. Understanding these changes will not only help you identify threats and opportunities but also help you better understand those of your customers. Look at the projected growth rate for your industry, your market share or the amount customers purchase from you vs. your competitors. Look at any changing demographics that may impact you or your customers. Identify where your customers are located, what technologies they’re using and who they use to satisfy their needs. How well are you and your competitors able to meet these needs?
Step 2: Evaluate Your Past Performance
How well did you meet last year’s goals? Were you 15% under or 5% over? How did your processes, people and products impact your ability to meet or miss those goals? Were the goals you set impossible or easily?
Understanding how you performed last, the degree of that performance and the primary reasons for that performance will help you build the plan for 2017 that will help you grow where you’re good and shrink where you’re bad.
Step 3: Set Goals for 2017
With the basic information above, you’re now able to create a handful of goals for your organization to meet in the coming year. Be honest about your business’s strengths and then align those with market opportunity. Including stretch goals to push your team further and measurable benchmarks to help you identify early on if you’re missing your mark.
Step 4: Align Your Resources
With your goals in place, the real trick to annual planning is aligning your human and capital resources in a way that will help you meet those goals. Be selfish. Be honest. If you need to generate $250K of revenue from new clients, but your sales team is full of farmers, you’ll need to; replace some farmers with hunters, add hunters, or train farmers to be hunters. Be sure everyone knows the annual business goals and how they each contribute. Better yet, include them in the planning.
Step 5: Develop or Improve Your Processes
Processes will make or break an organization. Just look at all the successes of Lean Manufacturing and similar processes that focus on maximizing the efficiency of your human and capital resources. Map out how you deliver on customer needs and then look for ways to reduce the number of people or time to do it. You’ll be surprised how much you can gain with one all-day meeting focused on improving one critical process.
With goals in place, a resource plan to meet those goals and processes to improve, you can begin the work of actually executing and enjoying another successful year.