How has 2019 unfolded for your small business? And what does that portend for 2020? If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin planning for next year, and even the next few years. I recently read an article about planning ahead that began with these lines:
Before writing the first chapter of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling planned for seven years at Hogwarts. Harry Potter is one of the most read books of all-time.
Before creating the first Stars Wars movie in the 1970s, George Lucas planned for at least six films and started at episode four, rather than episode one. Almost 40 years later, the entire world continues to be excited with the release of a new Star Wars film. This would not be possible if Lucas hadn’t thoughtfully and largely planned ahead.
The principle is simple: Don’t just plant a tree, plant an orchard.
Popular writer and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “You can start where you are with what you’ve got and go to wherever it is you want to go.”
As you take a hard look at your business, evaluate what already exists with an eye toward where you want to go. You have a working organization. A strategic business plan is the road map for everyone on your team to follow. It ensures you’re all focused on the same destination point.
A strategic plan allows you to be proactive in controlling your business, instead of reactive. It articulates your goals, how you’re going to achieve them, and directs your company’s actions. It will help you establish and measure the success of your business.
How do you do that? Glad you asked. Here are the basic steps.

Evaluate Your Business

Numbers and statistics do not tell all the story, but they do tell a story about your business, so gather them up and take a studied look at your results so far in 2019. Assets to consider:

  • Income to date
  • Projected income for the year
  • Expenditures to date
  • Projected expenditures for the year
  • Outstanding debt
  • Projected debt reduction
  • Average weekly hours worked
  • Return on Investments
  • Growth to date
  • Projected growth for the year
  • Other

Each of these categories may have more than one report. Spend the necessary time compiling reports that reveal how the numbers reflect your business’ success or lack of it. After a fair evaluation of the numbers, you can seek to learn all the underlying and contributing factors that produced your current results.

Evaluate Yourself

Seek to know yourself better. What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths? Where do you need to improve? Often, we must make personal changes and seek personal growth before we are ready or able to take our business to the next level. We can only lead our business to greater success as we become more successful as a person.
While your plan for personal growth may not exactly be part of your business plan, the two are inexorably linked. Some great personal growth areas that have a direct effect on your business include:

  • Health and Wellness
  • Goal Setting
  • Time Management
  • Lifelong Learning
  • People Skills

As you seek to mature in these areas in your personal life, the benefits inevitably roll over into how you conduct business. Growth contributes to growth.

Explain Your Goals

Don’t just make a list of business goals, but elucidate them in detail, including what it will take to reach them. This is time-consuming, but necessary. Aiming at nothing guarantees a hit every time. But who wants to lead a business that accomplishes nothing?
Use the SMART guideline as you articulate your goals. Every goal must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

For example, a goal’s SMART description may look like this:
S: Raise Twitter Engagement
M: Measured by a 50% increase in retweets; a 25% increase in new followers
A: Is this growth achievable? Examples?
R: Increased Twitter engagement will broaden my audience reach and make more people aware of my business and its offerings.
T: My plan will see the desired increase within 9 months.
Along with this SMART description you need a plan of how you will meet your stated goal. What actions will you take to increase engagement? When and how often? Will any other team members be included, or in charge of this task?

Encourage Input

Ask team members and other business collaborators for their input on the state of your business. Other perspectives can be an invaluable way to gain insight you may be missing. Beware: you may receive input that isn’t welcome. Be sure to respond kindly and positively to all input and evaluate it fairly for truth that can be used to help yourself and your business.
With close relationships, you may can conduct a discussion over coffee or lunch in person. Or perhaps you could design an evaluation form with several areas for consideration. Allow plenty of space for free writing and sharing. This is also a great place to get new ideas. Others may see great potential in an area for your business that you do not. Be open to all ideas and suggestions and give all input a fair and balanced evaluation.

Erect a Plan for Reaching Your Goals

Now that you now where you’ve been, where are you going? And what is the best route to get you there on time and intact? Work with your team or close associates, or even a neutral business coach, to lay concrete plans to reach the goals you set for 2020 and beyond. Like J.K. Rowling and George Lucas, dare to look beyond the visible and dream into the distant future.
Here are some valuable resources to help you lay the groundwork for goal planning:

What does your goal planning process look like? Has it proven successful? What do you plan to change in your business for 2020? Share your thoughts and experiences with our readers in the comments below.

About the Author: Donna Amos

I believe you can achieve anything you truly want to achieve. “It might sound trite, but time and time again, I’ve seen it happen with my clients. They overcome the fear of exposing themselves to the possibility of failure to creating profitable exciting businesses. My clients do great work, and sometimes it only takes someone else believing in them to give them the confidence to step out and take the chance.”