How much time do you spend working on your business versus working in your business?
There are less than 50 days left in 2015. This is an excellent time to step back and evaluate where your business is today and where you want it to be in 2016. For many businesses the thought of annual planning conjures up images of long drawn out meetings, complicated analysis and elaborate planning. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take time and focus.
- Take Score. Look at the prior year and do a quick tally of your successes and your losses. Have you celebrated your wins? Do you know how they became wins? What about your losses? Are they really losses or just learning opportunities? Answers to these questions will help you determine the type of business you want in the upcoming year and more importantly the type of business you don’t want. One easy method for B-to-B is to list the clients you have served in the past year and talk about the wins and losses for each. No one has a perfect record and the best coaches in the world watch the replay of all the games they play.
- SWOT Analysis. Take inventory of your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This tool was originated by Albert S Humphrey in the 1960s and is a simple way to think about your business. Strengths and weaknesses are focused on the internal. Opportunities and threats are about the external influences on your business. To be truly effective, input and feedback from a variety of team members is recommended. Download a sample template here.
- Leadership Calibration. Now that you have taken the time to reflect on the year and have taken an inventory of both internal and external factors, it’s time to review the strategic direction of the business. Has the vision for the business changed? Is there anything in your SWOT analysis that causes you to pause and think, “this could be a major roadblock or a tremendous opportunity?” Has the value proposition for your customers changed? Are there additional markets you want to pursue? The leadership team needs to walk through the findings and agree on the strategic direction.
- Write Down Your Goals. Start with high level objectives around financial performance, sales, client engagement, # of employees, etc. for the upcoming year. Statements like “We will go from X to Y by WHEN,” can be extremely helpful. Once you agree on the objectives, share them with the team and work with each individual contributor to determine their role in helping achieve the business goals and keep score throughout the year. You will be surprised how much progress will be made when the numbers are being reviewed and measured on a regular basis.
Have fun with it. I recommend getting out of the office with your leadership team. If possible combine the planning with some type of team building activity. The best results come from focus. Allow and encourage your team to walk away from the daily whirlwind so they can concentrate and be involved in building the future. Don’t be afraid to seek outside help or assistance in facilitation. Sometimes another perspective can help.