What is your business plan for 2016?
Whether you want to continue the success you’ve enjoyed this year or turn things around, you need a plan to get there. Since 2016 will be here in 4 weeks, it is high time to lay the foundation for what your business is going to become.
Over the next six weeks, I’ll describe the six steps to creating and executing your annual business plan. Follow along and do the work I outline and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your 2016 goals.
What Your Plan Should Do
Before we dive into step 1, let’s talk a little about what a good business plan looks like – and what one doesn’t look like.
A good annual plan:
- Has a clear vision for what you want to achieve, and is something you actually want to achieve
- Looks honestly at where you are right now
- Specifies metrics that will tell you whether you are succeeding
- Breaks the bigger vision down into achievable steps
- Empowers everyone in the organization to do what needs to be done
- Is flexible enough to adapt to reality
Don’t spend a lot of time and energy crafting a huge document full of beautiful prose and detailed projections. These kinds of business plans often end up sitting on a shelf until it’s time to do it again next year.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write anything down. You absolutely need to get your plans on paper. The value is in the act of planning, not the plan document. So, write down your goals and plans, just don’t waste resources creating a publication-worthy book.
Your plan should take whatever form best communicates it to everyone who needs to know. The format you select should facilitate the plan’s regular use and update by the entire team.
Now that we’re clear on what the plan should be, let’s look at the steps.
The Six-step annual planning process:
- Get clear on your vision for the business 12 months from now
- Honestly assess the current state of your business
- Prioritize the actions that will get you from where you are to where you want to be and create a short list of goals
- Break those goals down into quarterly goals and monthly actions
- Empower your team to own and track the results
- Document your process and adapt to the unexpected
In this article, I’m going to talk about Step 1: Getting clear on your vision.
Your vision is what you want your business to be 12 months from now. It has to be clear so that everyone knows what they are working toward. It also has be a vision you believe in. Saying “I want to grow by 25%” because you think that’s what you are supposed to do isn’t going to work. The vision has to be something that energizes you. If it isn’t, you aren’t going to do the work that needed to achieve it.
There is no “right” answer here, just a “right for you” answer. So take some time to think about what you want your business to do in the coming year. Don’t limit your thinking only to things like sales growth, new customers, or new locations. Think about how you want your business to serve you, your employees, your customers, and the community.
At this stage, don’t worry so much about how you will actually accomplish the vision. That is what we will work on in the next steps. For now, focus on getting a clear vision of what you want your business to achieve.
How to Create Your Vision
Here are some questions to help you formulate your vision. Write down the answers and work on them until you have something that excites you.
- How much revenue do you want next year? How much profit?
- How will your customers and prospects view your business 12 months from now? What are the top reasons they will love doing business with you?
- What will your day-to-day life look like in 12 months?
- What kind of environment will your business provide for your employees? What will your team say about working for you?
- How will others in your community view your business?
The answers to these questions will create a vision of what you want your business to become over the next 12 months. Once you have finished it, don’t put it away someplace. Share it. Talk about it. Get others excited about helping you achieve it.
Next week, we will examine how to take an honest look at the state of your business now.