Small Business Management: What’s Your One Year Plan?

Most business owners have a big-picture plan. They have an “ultimate goal” for their business. It may be to one day sell the business and retire, it may be to franchise, or it may be to pass the business on to their children.

Most business owners also have short-term plans, covering daily and weekly needs. These typically cover operational concerns, like ordering supplies, scheduling employees, shipping orders, etc.

What is missing is often a “mid-term” plan linking daily operations to big-picture goals. This is a significant problem because day-to-day activities won’t necessarily lead to the success of long term goals. That’s why I often recommend to business owners that they create a “one year” plan. Such a plan helps to focus short-term activities so that the business owner and his/her employees are always working towards big picture goals.

Here are four questions that this plan should answer.

1) What are your goals? What do you need to accomplish in the next year in order to move closer to your ultimate goals? Do you need to increase your revenue? Cut costs to improve your profit margin? Open a new location, or roll out a new line of products or services? Make these goals as specific as you can – for instance, “increase revenue by 20%” is far better than simple “increase revenue.” Define your goals.

2) Who is going to help you achieve them? Now that you know what you are working towards, the next step is determining who is going to help you achieve them. Are you going to hire an outside contractor, such as a marketing agency to help you grow your revenue? Are you going to task your employees with specific responsibilities in support of these goals? Are you going to bring in new staff? Or are you going to be responsible personally? There is not necessarily any right or wrong answer, but it is critical that you identify the individuals responsible.

3) How are you going to achieve them? You’ve decided what you are going to accomplish and who is going to be responsible for each area of progress, so the next step is to get specific. How is your marketing team going to increase revenue? If you’re opening a new location, what are the steps that must be followed? Think of this process as creating an “instruction manual” to achieve your goals.

4) By when are you going to achieve them? Finally, it’s important to create a timeline. Not just for the final goal, but for each step along the way. For instance, step one of your revenue growth plan may be to meet with your marketing team and nail down your marketing message. Set a deadline for completing this process. And continue to set deadlines each step of the way. When there is a firm deadline established, instead of vague timetables, you are much more likely to achieve your goals.

Do you have a one-year plan for your business? If not, I can help you begin this important process. Contact me today to learn more!

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