If you want something to be successful, you first need to understand what success looks like for you.
But knowing this alone isn’t going to help you achieve your dreams. To do that you need to take action and the business planning process is all about working out what action you should be taking and when.
There are a number of stages to planning out your year ahead:
This is a stage that many people forget about but if you want to be able to measure your achievements and success at the end of the year you first need to understand what your starting point is.
There is also a lot you can learn from reviewing the past year, looking at what went well and what didn’t so that you can learn from it and not make the same mistakes again.
So what should you be looking at?
Finances – Did you meet your targets?
Products/Services – What were your bestselling products/services? Which products/services didn’t meet expectations?
Marketing – How much has your list and/or social media following grown over the past year?
Achievements – What achievements have you had, both big and small?
Issues/Barriers/Challenges – What has gone wrong this year? What lessons have you learned from this? And what could you do better in future?
Customer – How many unsolicited compliments or testimonials have you received? And how many complaints?
Once you have your starting point you can start dreaming about where you want to be this time next year, or 3, 5 or even 10 years in the future.
Your vision is your desired destination. It needs to provide a detailed picture of what you hope to achieve. If it is too wishy-washy you will have trouble identifying the steps you need to take to get there in the next stage.
When thinking about your vision, don’t restrict yourself to just your business. You need to think about what your life will look like too and how your business will support that.
Your ultimate vision might be 3, 5 or even 10 years in the making, which can seem a very long way off and hard to know whether you are on track or not. Setting goals will give you something within reaching distance to aim for.
There are really two different types of goals that you can set:
Business Management Targets – These are targets that you would set year after year such as income and net profit, customer satisfaction, number of repeat customers, number of new customers or number of customers who would you to others
One-off Goals – These goals might include launching a new product or service, organising a customer event or getting a new qualification or completing a course
The goals you set also need to be…
Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound
Many business owners miss this step and then wonder why they struggle to achieve their goals. The fact is though that you’re not going to get very far unless you actively work towards your goals.
The other mistake business owners can make is to try to do too much at once, resulting in overwhelm and disappointment.
Targets can be annual, and where appropriate, also quarterly and monthly. Doing so will make it easier to stay on course as you will regularly be reviewing your progress and making any necessary adjustments.
One-off goals can be planned out much as you would a project. You need to know:
What all of the steps you need to take are
How long each will take
What your priority actions are
Whether any actions are dependent on others to complete before they can begin
Whether there are any immovable deadlines
Whether there are any potential risks or barriers to success
What resources you will need
Defining your Customer Strategy
Any business that wants to grow in a sustainable way needs to be putting their customers at the forefront of their business.
While some of your customer strategy will have been covered in the previous stages, looking at your customer strategy in its own right encourages you to dig deeper and really think about what you can do to improve and evolve your customer experience over the coming year.
What is going to make your customers want to come back? What will make them feel compelled to tell other people about you?
To answer this you need to consider the following:
What parts of your customer experience worked really well last year? And where could you apply the same principles elsewhere in your business?
What parts of your customer experience didn’t have the impact you hoped for? And how could you improve them?
How could you reduce service failures from re-occurring?
What could you do to create the WOW factor?
How could you reward loyal customers?
What customer events could you run?
What new customer offers could you launch?
How are you going to monitor your customer experience to make sure it is having the impact you planned?
Don't be scared to dream...BIG!