& make the next 12 months your best year yet!
Yes – I did just say that, even though it might feel pointless planning ahead when Covid is still running rampant around the world…
But here’s the thing: If we don’t set the course for our business (or ourselves personally), we’ll end up meandering all over the place and operating in a very reactive manner.
Much better to be intentional about what you want to do and achieve. BUT then to set out with the mindset “if things change, I’ll pivot”.
When you operate with that – more positive – outlook, you will start to see all sorts of opportunities!
I love planning for the year ahead. I mean, I REALLY love it.
But, when I first started out in business, I was more of a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kinda operator.
And in a short survey I recently conducted, I learned that more than half of my audience also tend towards this method of operating.
It’s not that they don’t WANT to write a business plan, they just have no idea WHAT they should be putting in it.
Yet, the same people have also set themselves some very ambitious goals and dreams for their business.
And I have no doubt that those goals are entirely achievable. BUT it’ll be bloody hard to get there without knowing what activities to focus on and how to spend your time.
When I worked this out, my business grew exponentially!
Don’t waste a second on activities that don’t generate results
Figuring out what to focus on – what are the key drivers for your business growth – can be the difference between mediocre and exponential growth.
What would you ultimately like to do or achieve with your business if you couldn’t fail?
And what would you like to have done within the next year in order to be on track to achieving that vision?
You want to think about this now, so that your business plan will lead you to this outcome!
What products do you want to sell? What customers do you want to serve?
Do you want to be featured on prime time TV? Or stocked in a big box retailer?
Personally I like to keep my goals within the realm of possibility, whilst still being ambitious! That way, you can proceed with confidence and remove the fear of failure.
(I mean, I wouldn’t set myself the goal of running an Ultra Marathon next week, when I’d struggle to run 5km today!)
Fear of failure is a big one isn’t it? Too often, fear of failure holds us back and stops us from pursuing our dreams.
So let me give you a tip about setting a big (but achievable) goal:
People tend to over-estimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.
Set yourself the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (your BHAG) with 10 years to achieve it.
And then set about breaking that down into more manageable, incremental steps.
What’s your number(s)?
Without thinking about the HOW just yet, set the following goals:
- How much revenue do you want to make?
- What % growth does this represent?
- What is your goal average order value?
- How many website visitors would you like to get each month?
- What is your goal website conversion rate?
- How many emails will you add to your email list?
Look back before you can plan ahead
Next, before you put pen to paper with your business plan, you need to review your past year’s performance.
I know this can be a bit tedious, and sometimes also a bit scary if you’re still in the early stage of your business and not turning a profit yet!
(Take heart – everyone starts like this, but with a good plan you’ll be able to get ahead!)
Dig into your website reports, your accounts, your Paypal, and your Google analytics, to find out exactly where you are right now.
- How much revenue did you make in the last 12 months?
- How much did you grow from the previous year?
- What is your current average order value?
- How many website visitors do you get each month?
- What is your current website conversion rate?
- How many email subscribers do you have right now?
Time to SWOT
Have you ever done a SWOT analysis? (Or am I now talking Greek to you?!)
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Basically, you want to get real with yourself here. No kidding yourself about how things really are.
Strengths and Weaknesses relate to your own personal abilities and that of your team. Are you fantastic at social media marketing, but suck at writing emails? Or brilliant at driving sales, but your order fulfilment or customer service really lags behind?
Opportunities and Threats relate to what’s going on in your industry. Are there any new competitors coming to market? Or have you identified a fantastic new product opportunity that you reckon would be absolutely killer?
Figure out the HOW
Now you know what you want to achieve, and you know your starting point. Next step is to figure out how you’ll get there and put this in your business plan.
So, what strategies do you need to employ to achieve these goals?
For example, to grow sales online, consider:
- If your website conversion rate is really low, work on website optimization
- If your website visitor numbers are low, work on SEO or paid advertising
- Up your game with more consistent email marketing
- Think about a promotional calendar so you have something for each month
- Sourcing or producing new products to sell more to your existing customers
- Working with bloggers, media or influencers to build your brand profile
There’s so many more strategies you could employ, I can’t list them all here. But you want to have a strategy to answer each of your goals and your SWOT analysis.
Make sure you ALWAYS have a strategy in place for these 2 things
Your business plan must always include strategies that:
- Attract potential new customers (such as influencers and paid advertising)
- Convert new and repeat sales (such as regular promotions, new products, special offers, and email marketing)
Without a constant stream of potential customers, and a mechanism to convert them into buyers (preferably who buy more than once), then you don’t have a business.
Use my FREE Planner Tool to Create Your Own Plan
Download my FREE Planner Tool that I developed to prepare business and marketing plans.
Updated 15th December 2021