4 Steps to Help You Plan for a Great 2018
Without a plan, most business owners won’t reach lofty business goals. Break planning into 4 steps so you can get it done before year-end.
Planning for next year? Wait - there’s still plenty to do before the end of THIS year. But even though there’s never enough hours in the day to get it all done, it’s important to block out some time and just do it. Without a plan, most business owners won’t reach their lofty business goals. So, with the 4 weeks left in 2017, I’ve taking a few hours each week to craft my 2018 plan. I’m sharing my planning process to help you get it done:
1. Let the Data Tell the Story
Before you can move forward, you must understand where you’ve been. Start with the key business and marketing metrics. For my business, it’s online activities and email campaigns. Ideally, there’s been consistent analysis all year, but the reality for most business owners is that it’s probably been random at best. Focus on your most important metrics, correlate the results to sales and expenses and pull it together in a one-page snapshot. Avoid the temptation to dissect every aspect – if analysis paralysis sets in, you’ll never make it past this first step.
2. Look at the Big Picture
Recap your key business goals and objectives for this year along with your results from step 1. Keeping in mind that your marketing plan and business plan are not the same thing – marketing activities grow your business but it’s only one component. After looking back, flash forward – what does your business look like 3, 5 and even 10 years from now? What needs to happen to get there? A lot, right? Start with the big picture and break it down. Then transition into your marketing strategies. Resist the urge to start with tactics! Business owners always seem to jump to tactics and new ideas first. Keep in mind that when tactics and goals don’t align – it can be a big waste of time and money.
3. Take a Quarterly Focus and Get Tactical
Now it’s time to map out the specific activities needed to accomplish your goals. Start by segmenting your year into quarters. Taking a quarterly focus enables you to drill down to the key milestones and necessary actions that will move projects forward and get results. It’s worth the time to map out each quarter to understand realistic timing, identify logistics and designate resources. Share your plan and quarterly calendar with your team and key stakeholders. Soliciting input is important to identify challenges and unify the team towards common goals.
4. Find Greater Success with Budgeting & Performance Indicators
While you don’t need to spell out all the details in your plan, it’s important to understand who’s doing the work, what it’s going to cost and what success looks like. Budgeting is critical to achieve return-on-investment. Keeping a keen eye on anticipated expenses forces you to go back and fine-tune the tactics to achieve the right balance of risk vs. opportunity. Identifying your key performance indicators (KPIs) in advance is also important. KPIs quantify your progress and helps improve operations. Plus, staying on top of KPIs makes ongoing planning so much easier.
While it may seem like a lot of work, having a plan prevents you from wasting valuable time and resources on unproductive activities. Careful analysis provides a clear picture of what you want to accomplish so you can create messages that connect with your ideal clients. And, you’ll see a greater return-on-investment when you stay laser focused on the most cost-effective activities in your plan.
As the new year quickly approaches, there’s no time left to put off planning. Keep in mind, your plan doesn’t need to be 100% by the time the ball drops on Dec 31rst. Dedicating time regularly to planning increases the chances you’ll achieve your 3, 5 and even 10 year+ business goals.
Cheers to making 2018 your best year yet!
Diana is a content marketing strategist and virtual marketing director specialized in financial services. She has 20 years of marketing expertise, including campaigns for top brands such as Johnson’s Baby and Band-Aid.