Most people wait until January to start thinking about their business revenue goals for the year. At first glance this seems to make sense. After all, why worry about a new year before it even arrives?
The problem is small business owners who wait until January to plan for the upcoming year often times end up finding themselves already behind. The reality is a successful year in business starts long before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Additionally, many businesses find that things slow down toward the end of the year and then pick back up again in January. This makes the end of the year the perfect time to sit down and plan your business goals for the following year.
Besides, wouldn’t you rather already have your plan for the following year squared away so you can start implementing it the first week of January? Here are some of the best ways to make the most of business planning in November.
Focus on Data
There’s a trend in the business world that isn’t necessarily new but has gotten some attention in recent years for creating the success of companies like Facebook and Walmart. The concept is called data-driven culture, and it’s the act of companies using data to their advantage by using the information they gather to keep improving their business.
To further expand upon the importance of data, CIO.com reported on an important study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit where 520 senior executives were surveyed about how they grow their companies. The survey found that the most successful companies were the ones who prioritize data collection and then use that data to improve company operations. Additionally, these companies democratize data and make it easily available to employees.
The good news is you don’t need to be the next Facebook in order to reap the benefits of data. For example, to a small business owner being data-driven may look like conducting a survey at the end of the year to see where their market stands. A small business owner can then use that data to create new offerings that meet the needs of their market.
By using data when you plan for a new year, you take the guessing game out of running a successful business. Instead, you prioritize facts and use them to create your business goals for the year.
Chances are you may be meeting with your accountant at the end of the year to discuss how the business finances are doing. This could include tax planning, determining any purchases that need to be made by the end of the year and going over revenue for the current year.
Since you’ll likely be meeting with your accountant anyway, use the opportunity to discuss some revenue goals for the following year. Your accountant will be able to help you determine what offering brings in the most money, how to improve profits and plan for any potential financial obstacles that may occur.
Assess the Risks
An important part of business planning is risk assessment. This is when businesses take the time to play out any obstacles that could potentially get in the way of achieving their goals for the year.
Unfortunately, business owners may be tempted to skip this part of the planning process. It’s not exactly exciting to detail the many ways something can go wrong.
However, knowing what can potentially go wrong is the only way business owners can create solutions and alternatives ahead of time. Otherwise, business owners run the risk of having their plans derailed by surprise complications.
According to the Houston Chronicle’s Small Business section, risks may show up in a business in several different ways. Some examples of risks include financial, marketing, operational, a changing economy, natural disasters and new market competitors.
Figure Out What Worked and What Didn’t
In order to continue expanding your business, it’s important that you review the past year and determine what worked and what didn’t. Here are a few things you can look for:
- What offering brought in the most money? Little money? No money?
- How was customer service?
- Did you have a successful launch? What made it successful?
- Were there any failed projects? Why did they fail?
- Are you investing time and money in things that aren’t working?
These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself as you plan for the following year. The key is to determine what worked so you can keep doing it while improving (or completely getting rid of) what didn’t.
Take advantage of a slower business season and use your newfound time to create a solid plan for the following year. By using data, assessing risks and creating a plan you’ll be able to grow your business more easily.
What are some of the ways your business plans for a new year? Share in the comments below.