December is a great month for many reasons. It brings with it the prospect of Christmas, time with family and, if we’re lucky, a well earned rest. For business owners, it’s a great time to start reflecting on the year that was – what worked, what didn’t, and what do you really want for the future?
Here are five steps to get you started on planning for a successful year ahead.
1. Review your year
Ask yourself some questions about the year. Writing down the answers may be helpful for you, or consider discussing them with a peer or business adviser.
What were your top achievements this year?
Were there any disasters?
Think about the relationships that were developed with staff, clients and suppliers. Which of them are flourishing? Are there others that are suffering?
Contemplating the key points of your year will provide the groundwork for next year.
2. Picture the future
In your mind, fast forward to this day in one year’s time. Imagine you’ve had a successful year. What are the things you’d like to have in place? What are the headaches you’ve eliminated? What does your bottom line look like?
Write these points down as the areas to focus on.
3. Revisit the pain points
In every business owner’s year, there are things that don’t go so well. Think about the processes that failed, customers that were less than satisfied, or dollars that somehow didn’t end up in the bank. Perhaps you had some staffing dramas, or issues with suppliers. Think about what happened in each situation. Could the outcome be different next time the same situation arises?
Identifying the underlying factors that played out during the difficult spots in your year will help you put processes in place to avoid the same scenario in future.
4. Set some SMART goals
To build on the good work of the year – or implement improvements where needed – you’ll need a plan, a framework that clearly outlines your goals, actions and measures. Realistic, actionable planning will be your pathway to business success for the year ahead.
Take your key focus areas and use them to set some SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. It’s important to use this framework – or one like it – for goal-setting to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. Being specific, measurable and time-bound will help you pinpoint exactly when your goal has been achieved.
5. Gather your team
No matter what your SMART goals are for the year ahead, those around you will play a part in helping you achieve them. Get them on board early. Communicate your goals to them and be clear about the role they will play in helping to achieve business success. Now is the time to start whipping up some enthusiasm for your big ideas.
Over the course of your year, review your goals often. Keep revisiting point 2, above, and envisage your success at year-end. Most importantly, keep at it!