Now is the time to prepare for your annual strategic planning day. You say you don’t have a strategic planning day? Then make this your first annual.
The best time for this planning is between Nov. 1 and the end of January, depending on the nature of your business. It’s the best time because yearly results are pretty well known, and some slowdown in business allows for time to think.
If you are new to this kind of planning, give it a try. It’s almost certain you will continue because results are substantial. Integrating strategic planning into business operations is a sign of a well-run business. Here is a checklist to serve as a guide.
Begin with three basic strategies for relatively new or smaller businesses:
1. Plan tax strategies for the coming year. Ask your tax adviser for assistance.
2. Set business and personal goals for the coming year. Remember, it’s not a goal unless it is specific in amount and time.
3. Prepare specific action plans to meet your goals.
Larger and well-established firms will add advanced steps to the basic ones listed above:
4. Prepare the following budgets – operating, advertising/marketing, capital, debt management and growth/expansion. If you don’t have a budget, you don’t have a plan.
5. Review your form of business (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, or Corporation). Is it still appropriate?
6. Prepare an action plan for employees, management and owner development. This includes a recruiting plan to hire needed employees and managers and a training plan for your staff. Develop or improve a process to review all employees.
7. Set value-building and exit-planning goals, and prepare an action plan. Be specific.
8. Review your business processes including accounting, operations, advertising/marketing and management.
9. Update and add to existing documented systems and operations manuals.
If you are still reading, you are saying to yourself, “What a job. I can’t do all this.” Of course, this cannot all be implemented at once. It is rare to find independent businesses that already have this complete checklist included in their planning day. Those that do are typically successful, well-run and valuable. If you want to reach the level they have reached, you will have to do what they have done. In a nutshell, these owners have learned to manage their business and not just work hard in it.
If you are new to this type of thinking and planning and if you want to succeed and create a more valuable business, begin by including the basic strategies in your planning day. Add to your checklist over time. The general order is appropriate for most situations. However, you may decide to rearrange the order a bit to address specific and pressing needs unique to your business. The key is to begin.
Thinking and planning is not enough. You must also take action.
Bowser@BusinessValueInsights.com. Dan Bowser is president of Value Insights, Inc. of Durango, Chandler, Arizona, and Summerville, Pennsylvania.