7 steps to a great year

2012 is but a fading memory and 2013 beckons. Those of us down-under are enjoying the hot summer where we can, and those up-over may be fighting the tendency to hibernate. But reality is nudging and the planning cycle cannot be put off any longer…

Never fear, I have 7 simple tips to help get you rolling and set you up for success:

  1. Take time to reflect
    The change of year is a great time to reflect and look back at past planning sessions, business plans or strategic planning documents and compare where your business is today to where you thought it should be. This will help you remember why you worked so hard in 2012. Consider the good parts and the bad bits from 2012.
  2. BAU stops here
    If you just go back to work and do what you did in 2012 chances are you will get to the end of 2013 and have not got too much further along in term of making your business what you want it to be. It’s important to make some changes. Keeping things a bit dynamic builds a culture or acceptance to change, which is essential in modern business.
  3. Hold your annual planning session
    Every year review your 3 year strategic plan and revise your goals and ambitions. This is a time to get away from the office with your fellow owners, directors or senior executives and open up your minds to what 2013 could be. Is 2013 going to be a growth year or a year of consolidation ? What things do you want to do more or less of in 2013.
  4. Break it down to three key things
    If you have too many goals to achieve you will forget what it is you are trying to do and which were the really important goals and which we only nice to haves. So pick the most important. Is it to double revenue, hire four more people, improve the profit by $200k, start generating revenue from a new overseas market? This helps in your decision making through-out the year. If what you are deciding does not get you closer to achieving the goals, then you should not do it (Easier said than done some times).
  5. Consider the different scenarios and the implications
    Make sure you have had some vigorous debate and run the white board pens out of ink. Consider all the different ways you could go, and then debate them, and think about what the variables will be.
  6. Confirm your strategy, run the numbers and confirm your KPIs
    Write down those goals and update your three year strategic plan. Then build or revise your financial model, especially your cashflow forecast. Build your budget so you can report against it in your monthly management reports. Finally, develop the KPIs that relate to your strategic goals.
  7. Test and adjust
    At your monthly board meeting report your actual performance against your KPIs’ and your financial budgets. This will tell you whether or not you are achieving you goals. Simple. If you are then doing great, carry on, if not then you will need to make some more changes.

Remember no plan is fixed, it is going to change, as are your goals, which is why you need to revisit them on a regular basis.


Scott McReynolds
February 3, 2013 at 2:59 am

Great overview of the the thinking necessary when doing your annual operating plan. Not sure what BAU is in #2 though.

Sue Hirst
February 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Great idea to have a planning session. In a small business it’s even better if you include all staff and stakeholders. It gets them involved, invigorated and motivated when they’re involved in the decision making.

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