Planning is one of the most important tasks in any business. Regardless of the industry or size of the business, making a business plan is an essential part of running your business, setting goals, and maximizing your results. Planning helps business leaders utilize the resources they have to their fullest potential. Before you turn the calendar to a new year, set aside time for some strategic end-of-the-year planning.
Creating an annual business plan is a combination of reviewing your past performance and looking at projections for the future. Reflecting on successes from the current year allows you to identify areas where you are already doing well. Then, identifying projections for the future, including pinpointing potential risks and setting goals, can help you take advantage of opportunities that lay ahead. Your Safeguard Advisor is ready to help with business planning with products and solutions to achieve maximum productivity and drive long-term business success.
What’s the first step in end-of-the-year planning for my business?
The first step in end-of-the-year planning should be reviewing this year’s results. Look at which products or services performed the best, or which locations had the best performance. Identify both where you performed above expectations and determine any areas where your business underperformed.
The Importance of End-of-the-Year Planning for Your Business
A well-thought-out annual plan helps inform your decision-making by providing specific goals and metrics for the business to meet. While still flexible enough to adapt to changing environments, an annual business plan should help propel the business forward with a combination of larger milestones broken down into smaller goals. An annual plan is critical, particularly for working towards those longer-term goals.
Developing or updating your annual plan is an opportunity to focus on improving performance and making plans to reach specific goals over the upcoming year. An annual plan is also a useful tool for employees to help gain a sense of the company’s overarching strategy and what their part is to reach those goals. Providing employees with a clearer sense of direction can energize them and help them be more productive.
How to Create an Annual Plan
1. Assess This Year’s Results
The best way to plan for the year ahead is to look back at the previous year and consider what worked and what you want to improve. If you had specific goals for this year, pull them out and go over them. Ask yourself some questions, such as:
- Were your goals met? Why or why not?
- In what ways were you successful?
- Where did you go off-course?
If you identify any shortcomings, take the time to understand what happened or may be holding you back. Assessing your year should also include reviewing your financials, such as comparing budget numbers to actual numbers.
2. Set Business Goals
With a thorough understanding of this year’s performance, you’re ready to focus on setting goals for next year. As you set your goals, consider short-term and long-term goals, such as the five-year plan for your business. Also, look at the various areas of your business where you might set goals, including:
- Customer retention
- Transaction value
- Lead generation
Part of setting defined business goals is coming up with specific plans for achieving those goals. You might also identify what resources you will need to achieve your goals, such as equipment or staffing.
It’s useful to have a combination of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals and stretch goals. In the acronym, SMART goals are generally presumed to be attainable, and the parameters used to create these goals set a clear timeline, making it easier to track their progress. On the other hand, stretch goals are intentionally set above normal standards to inspire growth and innovation. For all of your goals, you want to make sure you put them in writing, communicate them to your employees, and implement a plan to measure your progress towards attaining them.
3. Consider Contingency Planning
Businesses of all sizes have faced many challenges over the past two years. Looking forward to 2023, some risks facing businesses include inflation, wage changes, and slower business growth. Contingency planning allows you to build a procedure to prepare for worst-case scenarios so when things go wrong, you can turn to your contingency plan to help get things back on track again.
Business planning encompasses all the goals, strategies, and actions you envision to ensure your business’s growth. Safeguard is a partner you can count on to meet your business goals. Your Safeguard Advisor is an expert on the products and services you need to make managing and marketing your business easier and more effective. Get started today!
- Planning helps business leaders utilize the resources they have to their fullest potential.
- A well-thought-out annual plan helps inform your decision-making by providing specific goals and metrics for the business to meet.
- The first step in end-of-the-year planning should be reviewing this year’s results.
- It’s also useful to have a combination of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals and stretch goals.
- Safeguard is a partner you can count on to meet your business goals.