Did you make big plans for 2013? A few months have passed since our annual turning of the calendar and it’s probably past time for some of us to check in with the goals we casually sketch out on notebook paper. If you’re like me, you’ve got big hopes for your business, but if you want those hopes to become reality, you’ve got to have a plan. It’s time to click the “refresh” button and map out specific details on how to make this year your best year ever.
The economic situation may have changed over the past few years, but it’s hardly as bad as the “sky is falling” reports you hear on the daily news. Downturns in the business cycle are a normal part of the glamorous and ever exciting world of self-employment. I’ll admit though, flat sales numbers are much less exciting than the double-digit growth of years past. This is reality of the job we chose, accept it as normal part of the business cycle and make solid plans on how to weather the storm. To thrive in the upcoming year, we must develop an annual business plan. Here’s how:
Look at the past
Before going in a new direction, reconsider what worked and what didn’t. Specifically identify which activities have been your most successful in terms of profit, not just income. Evaluate the services and products you offer. Did photo frame sales meet expectations? Did installation charges cover costs? Is there an employee that needs retraining, or perhaps replaced? How much money did you make selling Museum glass versus Premium Clear? Identify what made you money in the previous year and what didn’t.
List your goals
Write down everything you want to do in next twelve months. Begin with how much money you want to make, services you want to add, or products you want to take away. Be sure to include changes in work patterns and store operations. If it’s your goal to be home at three o’clock to meet the kids coming home from school, set a goal to hire afternoon help. If you want to expand to internet sales, make a goal to hire a reputable web-development company.
Now is when you add details to each goal. Instead of simply saying you want to increase sales, be specific. List each product and service you offer and set a specific number for sales and number of customers you’ll need for each. For instance, if you want to double your sales of fillets; look at last years figures, set a number and project how many additional customers are needed to reach that goal. Repeat the same exercise with Museum glass, fine art and prints, installations and accessories.
After every goal, and the specific numbers of each, write down the steps needed to reach that goal. In other words, identify the specific actions you plan to take to insure your success. For example, if you want to increase your customer base you are going to need to attract more customers through marketing. List the ways you plan to do this; advertising, networking, e-mail campaign, etc.
Estimate resources needed
Each step will require time and money to achieve. Estimate the costs associated with each specific step so you can come up with a reasonable cost per goal. This will be a tremendous help when you’re building your budget for the upcoming year. Don’t forget to estimate the time needed to achieve each goal.
Next to your goals, figure out who will be responsible for each and if any additional people will be needed. To reach sales goals, every sales person should be included, but if it is to “be green” you may want to assign the task of recycling cardboard to a specific person.
Prioritize your goals
If done right, this list would take more time and money than you probably have right now. So rearrange your list of goals and actions starting with the things you must do to survive followed by the activities with the highest chance of success. Be sure to give your plan a reality check, because if it is too far beyond what you and your employees usually do, you may need to re-prioritize.
Putting your plan into action will become more manageable when you assign a month, week or day for each task. Take it one step at a time and you will be on a steady path to success, strong enough to weather any storm.