The beginning of a new year brings renewed energy, focus, and determination, especially if you have just returned from a relaxing and enjoyable year-end break. It is critical to set adequate time aside to plan for the year ahead before you get stuck into the daily operational grind. We encourage business owners to plan their year by making use of the following planning tools:
One-Day Strategic Planning Day
For as long as we have been in our own business, we have always hosted a one-day strategic planning day for our team at the beginning of each year. This has proven to be an invaluable tool in examining our past year’s performance, identifying areas for improvement, plotting how to improve in these areas, and assigning responsibility to team members. The exact content and agenda of this one-day session will differ from business to business, but here are some common agenda items that will apply to most businesses:
- Assess actual performance versus targets and goals from 2020;
- Review customer information: new clients gained and clients lost during 2020;
- Review tactics or strategies that didn’t work in the previous year and understand why they didn’t work;
- Identify specific areas for improvement in 2021 and plan how to achieve these improvements;
- Review marketing performance and statistics from 2020: which marketing strategies or campaigns delivered the most, which ones didn’t deliver as expected etc.;
- Present your budget for the forthcoming year;
- Set 2021 goals and targets.
Annual Marketing Plan
We are firm believers that marketing is one of the key secrets to business success and therefore believe in the importance and value of producing an annual marketing plan. Marketing is the function of educating and communicating with your target audience in an effort to “Buy Lifetime Customers”. The marketing plan we produce in our business works on a weekly and monthly format, allowing our team to see all our planned marketing activities for each week of each month for the entire year. This plan takes out the guesswork when it comes to when and how to market during the year. Once the plan is complete, it needs to become somebody’s job to deliver on the plan and as the business owner or manager, your job is to hold that person accountable.
Annual Business Budget
Having an annual business budget is not a “nice to have” – it is a “have to have”. Your budget then becomes your financial target. If you aim for nothing, you get nothing – so your budget is a benchmark to measure yourself against throughout the year. If you go off course, you can quickly adjust your tactics to get back in line. We have found the best way to prepare your budget is a line by line approach, starting with turnover and working your way down to bottom-line profit. Use prior years’ numbers as a starting point and factor in your plans for the new year. Be clear about your underlying growth assumptions and test the reasonableness of the budget by comparing the percentage change in each line item to the prior year. A budget is also a great tool to use for setting team bonuses and incentives.