Gearing up for a new year in business? It’s a great time of year to plan for the future. With so much talk of goal setting this time of year, there is no shortage of information and motivation to bring your ideas to life. But you might find that a lot of the advice you receive about getting ready for 2020 is lacking a few things.
Much of what you read will be repetitive and start to drone on. It’ll lose your interest, and your plans will suffer for it. Instead of thinking about what everyone else is including in their plan for 2020, start thinking about what’s missing from your plan and focus on those aspects of your operation. Here’s how to zero in on what’s missing and make the most of your planning for 2020 and beyond.
Start from far out.
Rather than start your planning with 2020, consider working your way backward from your overall goals. Take your strategic plans out at least 10 years and answer some of the scarier questions about what your business needs to do and who you need to be able to reach those goals. If you continue to just do what you’ve always been doing, you’ll just keep getting the same results. That’s fine for many, but if you are taking the time to create a new strategic plan, that means you want more. So, go for gold on this one and start planning from the 10-year version of your business. You can start aligning your vision and actions to that goal now.
Consider your workforce.
One area of business operation that many strategic plans overlook is the power of the workforce. A lot of times, strategic plans are made up by people who aren’t actually going to execute on them. But an important part of your strategic plan is to consider the people who are actually going to put your ideas into action. Make sure you include at least managers or department heads in your strategic planning to help create accurate and realistic paths forward. If you don’t have the workforce to bring your ideas to life, it means having a difficult conversation with yourself and your executives. Changes might need to be made, but with a proper strategic plan, you can move in the direction of your goals by preparing your workforce for those changes well in advance.
Lead with your strengths.
Feedback is an important part of any strategic plan. Without understanding your weaknesses and areas of improvement, you’ll have a hard time going forward to find bigger and better business opportunities. However, if you want to take a different approach to your strategic plan, lead with your strengths. Rather than focusing on what’s not working and needs to be improved, focus on what’s going right and work on improving that aspect of your business even further. Because you’ve already got resources and perhaps years of 360 feedback assessments from employees, suppliers and customers, you can tweak your offerings and make the most of what you already have. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you have a profitable business, but you can go bigger and make more money with little effort when you focus on your strengths instead of investing heavily to improve what’s not working.
Cut your losses.
At some point in your 5- or 10-year plan, you are going to have to fold and cut your losses. It’s a natural part of business. If you are doing this right, many things will change throughout the next few years. That’s how growth happens. Don’t be afraid of the changes coming down the line. Plan for them. Know that you are going to need a different workforce to go from 5-10 years than you did to go from 1-5 years. If you plan correctly, you can improve those workers to fit the new requirements. If you haven’t been so good at planning up to this point, you’ll need to make tough decisions about bringing on new employees. But rather than get caught up in the drama of it, just cut your losses and find the skills, knowledge and abilities you need. The point of planning now, however, is to do your best to avoid that. Incorporate training and upgrading into your plan for 2020 so that you are ready when the changes come.
Invest in your business.
Your strategic plan is likely missing a section on how much money you are willing to invest in growing your business. Most people focus on what they are going to do to grow their business and don’t think enough about how much all that work is going to cost them. If you want your plan for 2020 and beyond to be on point, make sure you include information about how much money you will spend, where the money will come from, and what return on that investment you hope to get and when. Not only is it important to commit to investing in your business, but it’s important to commit to when and how you’ll spend that money. Ensuring that you have a clear path for where your money is going to go will help you feel confident about that investment instead of spinning your wheels wondering if you’ve made the right choice.
Strategic plans are all about decision-making. If you avoid doing the planning, all you are really doing is avoiding making decisions. Make time to get clear on 2020 while there’s still time. And be sure to revisit your plan regularly to adjust it and add to it to keep on the path you want now and in the future.