Planning is key to a successful business
By Marc Goldberg
SCORE certified mentor
Question: What should I be doing today to plan for the remainder of 2021?
Answer: Plan your next moves. Winston Churchill wisely counseled, “People who fail to plan, plan to fail.” In owning and growing a business, planning is one of the most important elements of control. Pretty soon you will be swamped with day-to-day operating issues. Now is the time to sit in the quiet and ask yourself the tough questions: Where are we in the business’s life cycle? Where do we want to be in the near future (six to 12 months)? What are the obstacles that are in the way of getting to where we want to be? What actions do we need to take to achieve our stated goals? Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia, (www.synnovatia. com) created a year-end assessment that every business can use regardless of its industry segment. She has broken it down into categories of planning.
Revenue and profitability:
What was the revenue? Profit? How does that differ from previous years? Up, down, level? How does it compare to projections in light of the pandemic? Where is your organization “leaking” cash? How effective was your pricing strategy in helping to achieve your financial goals? What is your average revenue per client? Up, down, level with 2019?
New business development:
What marketing methods and/or tools did you use to generate new business that worked — website, networking, advertising, referral development, social media, blogs, articles? What measurable results were achieved via each marketing method? Which tool or marketing method is most cost-effective? Which ones can you eliminate in 2021 that didn’t work as well as expected? What was your lead conversion? What percentage of leads became paying clients? How much resource is needed to close leads to sales, such as time, financial, human resources needed to close sales? Then, how many new clients were acquired in 2020? How many were lost? What was the net gain/loss of your client base? What was the average length of time of client engagement? How long does a normal client stay with you before drifting to a competitor? What type of client was most profitable for your business? Residential? Commercial? Industrial? Consumer vs. distribution? What type of client has the highest potential for growth? Peppers and Rogers in their landmark book, “The One-to-One Future,” identify an issue that most marketers fail to address: we spend too much of our time and resources chasing new clients and not enough of our resources chasing new business from existing clients. How does your business rate in client acquisition vs. organic growth of business from your current client base? Which clients are most enjoyable to work with? How can you get more of them?
Products and services: What product or service was the most profitable? How can you find more clients to sell those products or services to? What are the least profitable? Should you jettison them or do you need them to have a well-rounded product or service offering? Which 20% of your activities contribute 80% of your revenue? Which products or services have the highest growth potential? What can you add to your product or service offering that addresses changing buying behaviors and needs?
Ownership: What accomplishments are you most proud of during 2020? Survival? Expansion? Pivoting? Reimaging your business? What was your greatest learning? How will you apply that learning to 2021 activities? What was really working well and producing results that you want to replicate in 2021? What do you enjoy most in your business? What was not that enjoyable that you would like to delegate or
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outsource? What was driving your business’ growth, profitability or effectiveness? How can you maximize those drivers in 2021?
Goals and plans: What modifications, if any, need to be made to the vision or mission of your business? What strategies and tactics need to be fine-tuned given the environmental factors that are impacting your business? What are your key performance indicators? Are you regularly watching them to assure that you are staying on track to meet your personal and business goals? How can you be more opportunistic? What opportunities are there that you might be able to take advantage of to grow your enterprise — both internal and external? At the same time you are assessing opportunities, ask yourself is there untapped or undeveloped potential for your business in the near term? What are your goals for 2021? What actions need to be taken to achieve those goals? How will you measure progress? And, how often will you step back and measure your performance so you can make adjustments that are necessary to achieve those goals? Who will be your 2021 accountability partner to assure you stay on track?
Now that you have assessed what 2020 was like for your business, it is time to set 2021 objectives. First, revise your vision for your business. What do you want to be in your town or community? What do you need to do to achieve that vision? Your objectives need to be SMART: Specific, your objectives need to be clear and focused. Measurable, you need to be able to assess how you are doing in accomplishing the objectives periodically so you can make necessary adjustments or carryon with the plan as is. Attainable, make sure that you can achieve the objective. If it is too much of a stretch no one will take it seriously. Relevant, they need to have a clear link between the business and the vision so that everyone on your team can embrace them. And, Time-bound, they have to be attainable within a specific period of time — 12 months. When you have SMART objectives everyone on the team can be on board with what the expectation is for the coming year and contribute to their attainment. Contributed by Marc Goldberg, Certified Mentor. Sourced: Jackie Nagel, Synnovatia, www.synnovatia. com. For free and confidential mentoring contact SCORE Cape Cod & the Islands. www. capecod.score.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, 502-774-4884. We go where you are! Don’t forget to ask about our Advisory Teams to guide in-business clients through these uncertain times.