*December marks the beginning of the holiday season and the time of year that entrepreneurs should start thinking about next year and how they will address their business concerns. It is important that entrepreneurs start planning for the next business year now. By the time January rolls around, most entrepreneurs will get so wrapped up in operating their businesses, they won’t have the time to do any long-term planning.
Here are some of my tips:
- Create a Strategic Plan. All successful entrepreneurs are working off a five-year strategic plan and take the time every year to assess where they are in that plan. This comprehensive planning takes an outside professional facilitator to administer and the outcome should be an actionable list of high-impact initiatives designed to move closer to that five-year picture. If you are not working from a five-year strategic plan, the real question is should you be?
- Review your mission statement. A mission statement is your strategic direction for the company and should be reviewed annually. A professionally-written mission statement will address the following: who you are, what you do, who you serve, how you serve them and, most importantly, what you do that sets you apart from your competition. If, in review, you learn that your company is no longer complying with one or several elements of your mission statement, then it is time to either rewrite the statement or to change your business model back into compliance.
- Look at your marketing plan and goals. The end of the year is a good time to review your marketing plan, discuss if it met your goals, and if it was effective. Whether its word-of-mouth, advertising or public relations, you should evaluate last year’s strategies and decide if you need to do something different for 2012. You also need to study your audience and see if their habits and needs have changed. If so, you may need to adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
- Set a new sales goal. When you are looking at projections for 2012, you also need to be able to decide how to measure those goals. You need to know if you want to see a 25 percent or 50 percent increase in sales. Setting goals is a great way to measure how well your sales team is doing. However, you need to have feedback from the sales team when creating the new goals. Setting an unrealistic goal can lead to a lot of burned out and frustrated employees.
- Review your product and look for growth areas. What does 2012 mean for your product. Is it going to see increased demand, or is there going to be a lull in demand? Your product may be in danger of being phased out, and that might mean you have to look at branching out into a different area. Alternatively, there may be accessories that can be sold alongside your product, for example, laptop bags to go with a laptop computer. Even if your company decides not to make the accessories, you can partner with a firm that makes those accessories and share in the profits. A good brainstorming session around your product line can lead to new revenue streams.
Many businesses slow down for the end of the year/holiday season. Now would be a good time for entrepreneurs to do some reflection and brainstorming, so they can hit the ground running in 2012.
Yolanda Mason is a CEO Coach for Estrada Strategies. For more information call 909.489.5708 or firstname.lastname@example.org.