This is our fourth year to facilitate annual planning with our customers. We have worked with several of the clients for at least three of the past four years.
It’s exciting to see the impact over time.
Seeing revenues and profits increase is definitely part of the fun. It doesn’t come close though to seeing how the specific plans put in place directly impacted the revenues and profits.
And it is so rewarding to look around at the business owner and managers and see their sense of accomplishment when they see the impact of their focus and efforts.
Every Step Matters
Some parts of planning are boring, rote, and even stressful. We have to:
· Put our strengths and weaknesses under a microscope and find the areas that need to be addressed.
· We have to look for ways to increase revenues to support additional spending and investment in our business.
· We have to do a budget, which is the boring part. But the scary part is committing to sales projections based on plans but no solid pipeline of orders.
And most of the time small business owners and managers feel that their efforts would be better spent just going out and doing the work than sitting in a room and planning.
Until they see the growth at the end of the year and find that the plans are what created the improved performance.
I have done planning for big companies and one-man companies. It is now fourth quarter, better known as the planning quarter. Here are some planning tips to help get you started on a planning process for your business this year.
What Annual Planning Should Look Like
Annual planning should:
1. Always take place under the umbrella of your vision.
· Everything should be compared back to the vision to make sure the strategies and plans move your business towards achieving your vision.
2. Include key managers or employees in the process.
· They will help create plans that they can implement.
· They will better understand the vision.
· They will buy-in to the vision and the plans.
3. Focus on a few key strategic initiatives.
· These key initiatives should drive revenues, profits, or solidify the foundation of the business for growth.
· There should only be a few key initiatives in order to be able to implement well.
· Incentives and pay plans should be based on the key initiatives.
· Performance evaluations should be heavily weighted to execution of the key initiatives.
· Create measurable metrics for each initiative.
4. Track initiatives and company performance against the plans and budget throughout the year.
· Don’t wait until year-end to measure…it may be too late to adjust.
· Don’t throw away the initiative if execution of the plan is delayed or less than stellar. Start and keep going until you can look in the mirror and say we executed the plan almost to perfection.
· Adjust the plans mid-year if you executed well and it isn’t working. Don’t just keep going on a plan that isn’t working.
· Get everyone together and make a new plan to catch-up.
· Don’t lower the goals, change the tactics to achieve them.
· Celebrate achievements along the way all the way down to the lowest positions in the company.
5. Review your plans for the quality of the plan, the implementation of the plan, and the results of the initiatives each year as part of the planning process for next year.
· This shows your ability to plan, focus, execute, and achieve results.
· This shows which of these areas may need more attention in the planning for the upcoming year.
· This shows your team how much of an impact they can and do have on the performance of the company.
· This helps the team to feel accomplished and invested in the company.
The Secret to Planning GROWTH Into Your Business
All of these steps are imperative to the planning process and to the effective implementation of the plans. However, in summary, the one step that I feel has made the biggest difference in GROWTH is strategically choosing and focusing on key initiatives each year.
We are always going to be pulled by the everyday blocking and tackling of the business and individual jobs. We usually get the basics done, but don’t do the things that will provide for growth and change in the business. They become nice to have rather than imperatives.
Growing Companies Have Plans
While many companies survive year after year with just doing the nuts and bolts, if you are an owner who wants to grow and evolve in your industry, you must do more. And to do more without the nuts and bolts slipping, you need to be strategic and focused about it.
· Your team needs to prioritize which initiatives will make the biggest impact to your company in the coming year.
· You need to have full realistic implementation plans before the year begins so you can hit the ground running.
· You need to have laser focus and accountability behind the initiatives because, as we said, the day to day will drive out the new and nice to have.
Plans Consistently Create Better Results
In my own experience, and in my client’s histories, the ones who plan for their business each year have better results year after year.
How about you? Do you have an annual planning process for your company? Do you follow these steps or others? What has made the biggest impact in your planning?
If you aren’t planning for your business, I hope these steps will help you get started. If you need more help, call us. We can coach you through establishing a planning process for your company. We also facilitate planning with small businesses. Call us at (225) 341-4147 or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if we can help.