business planning

The year is going to close before we know it. Don’t start the new year until you’ve done a year end business review.

Running a business can feel like you’re on a never ending cycle of ups and downs. At times, things couldn’t be better; then, all of a sudden, you get thrown a curveball. Maybe you had one of your best employees leave. Or was it the downturn in sales that forced you to navigate through and figure out how you were going to make payroll that week.

Uncertainty, doubt and stress can make running your business feel like you’re losing control.

Nobody likes feeling like they’re losing control. One term you hear a lot in sports and in military circles is regroup. I’m a big believer in using strategies and tools to regroup. To regroup in your business means stepping back to look at the big picture to get a handle on where you are at and then planning your way to forge ahead into the next phase of your business.

At the end of the business year is a great time to regroup so that you can start the next year strong, with clarity and control. One way to do that is to do an end of year business review.

These steps are a good way for you to step back, analyze your business results and set new goals and strategies for next year.

Review the Goals You Set

When you began business this year you probably set some goals that you wanted to achieve. Some of your goals may have been focused on sales; maybe you set a goal that you wanted to increase sales by 10%.   Other goals focused on the finance side of your business. Something like reducing costs by 5% or improving your cash flow by cutting down the time to collect on your accounts. Operations or marketing goals may have been the target this past year.

Whatever the goals you set, review how you did.

Take out the list of goals you set last year and the measurements on your results to see how you did.

List Your Hits and Misses

You and I know having goals without reviewing how you did is useless, both on the goal setting side and the measurement side.

So take a hard look at how you did during the year.

Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” Anonymous

Celebrate the Hits

All year long, you and your team were working hard to achieve those goals. It’s easy to get lost in the hard work and perseverance that it took to achieve those goals. By the time the year ends, it’s a little uneventful or even anticlimactic.

But, you’re wasting an opportunity to create engagement and motivation with your team by not celebrating your achievements! Applaud your wins and more importantly, figure out how you might be able to capitalize on them going forward.

Determine if the goals you achieved can be improved even further going forward. What new goals can you set that are bigger and bolder for the coming year?

Don’t forget they should be reasonable too!

Analyze Your Misses

You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky

Gretzky’s quote will stand the test of time I think. If you shoot for goals and miss, it’s not the end of the world. You took a shot. It’s an opportunity or maybe a few opportunities actually.

Like in hockey (a sport that I’m a big fan of) if you shoot with a bad angle, then it has less of a chance of going in the net. You may have set a goal that had no chance of being achieved. Maybe it was ill-conceived, relying on too many things that were out of your control and kept you from reaching it.

You may have missed one of your goals because, well, you just didn’t do the work or make the business changes that would allow you to reach it. Your plan and tactics weren’t enough. Something more needed to be done in your business to enable you to succeed in reaching that goal.

Whatever the case, learn from the reasons why you didn’t reach it. Determine what went wrong and if it’s still a desirable goal, figure out what you’ll need to do to achieve it.

Remember, this is an opportunity to understand what went wrong and take the opportunity to learn from it, fix it and move forward.

Unexpected, Unplanned Developments

Curveballs, they happen all the time in business. Review the curveballs that were thrown at your business this year. Was it an unexpected expense? A cost you didn’t anticipate?

What others occurred during the year? Was a big opportunity that you thought you had with a prospect that fell through? Maybe you had a large customer who ran into trouble and sales slipped off.

Review those unexpected and unplanned surprises you had during the year. Think about what, if anything, you could have done to anticipate them. Would better budgets pick up that unplanned expenditure? If you had more time to stay on top of developments, could you have seen the problem coming sooner, so that you could react more quickly?

Reviewing those unplanned events is an opportunity to determine if there is something in your business that can be improved. Whether it’s improvements in your planning, feedback mechanisms or just taking time to stay on top of industry developments, take some time at year end to step back and analyze what you could have done differently.

Take Time for a Year End Business Review

I wrote at the start of this article, no one really enjoys lacking control or having uncertainty and stress! Take some time at your year end to review your results, examine your goals – both your hits and your misses.

Use that information to get control over what went right and what went wrong so that you can use what you learned to improve your business, get clarity and take control of your goals and plans for next year.

In this episode, we offer tips about how to make strategic planning work in your growing business.

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Show Notes

Once a company grows to a size where management teams run the various departments, the planning process can get more difficult due to the complexity of the business. It’s not just the entrepreneur making decisions, now there are department heads – with various ideas and opinions – making decisions.

Now, it’s more important than ever to march to the beat of the same drummer in your growing business.

Today, Lisa Roberts offers tips about how to make strategic planning work for your growing business. We’ll answer questions about the strategy development process and talk about tools that you can use to put this business practice in place in your business.

Key Points

*Entrepreneurs can struggle with strategic planning since there is sometimes confusion about what a strategy really is.

*Strategic planning is more about the “how” of things, not the “what” like the mission or the “why” like the vision.

*Companies have stakeholders that have varied interests and aims that can complicate a company’s intended strategy.

*A business needs to be clear about its’ mission, the what, before they can think about the “how”.

*While the mission is the same year in and year out, the strategy changes from time to time as you accomplish your mission.

*Goals are specific things the company wants to achieve; strategies are set to determine how the company can achieve them.

*Strategic planning helps entrepreneurs get everyone the same page, sets priorities and helps staff focus on what’s most important

*The first step is to determine where your business is at, is to use a SWOT analysis. This provides a basis to start developing long term goals and objectives.

*Strategies can then be developed for those goals as well as actions plans or tactics that will help execute the strategy.

*Once the strategic plan is set, an important step is the management of you plan including communication and monitoring the plan.

*It’s important for a company flow the strategy and goals down to the staff to create line of sight, focus and employee engagement.

*Culture, communication and management are an important part of the strategic planning and goal setting processes.

Resources and Links

Book mentioned in the episode: Hard Goals by Mark Murphy


Note: Links in this post may be affiliate links.  Lisa Roberts is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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Lisa Roberts is a business operations consultant who advises growth company entrepreneurs in successfully managing growth and the challenges they face along the way. She has over 25 years of experience in operations, finance and administration and spent several years in executive roles at a high growth company. She recognizes that there is a fine line between success and failure in a growing business and that entrepreneurs need to focus on managing finances, creating a sound operation and employ good business practices to stay on track.   You can find out more about her here

Business Planning – You Got This

Certain business owners believe that you only need a business plan if you are trying to obtain financing either through a bank, venture funding or an offer for stock.  Others believe that you only need a business plan when you are starting up a business.  Still others feel business planning is not worth it because they are already in business. Studies have shown that businesses that prepare a plan and monitor their plan adapting to changes in their business have higher success rates compared to those that don’t use planning.  Your plan doesn’t need to be a long involved document covering every aspect of the business but merely a plan that answers 3 simple questions.

There are various terms that describe the overall planning process for a business but in general they are all quite similar and answer some of the same fundamental questions about your business.  Let’s take a look at some of the definitions of the types of plans and planning processes and the common themes and questions they answer.

A Business Plan can be defined as a description of what the entity does, the business’ goals, the reasons why they are attainable and the plan for reaching those goals.  A Strategic Plan helps define who you are as a business, where you are, where you want to go and how you will get there. The Operational Plan is usually a subset of the strategic plan and defines at the department level where are you now, where you want to be in the future, how you will get there and how you measure progress.

As you can already see there are three common questions that are answered in all of the above definitions.  Let take a look at them.

What the business does?

This portion of the plan explains the type of business your company is in, the products or services it offers, its’ value proposition, what market it is in, which customers and prospects your company targets, etc.  In the overall company sense, it defines who you are and in the departmental sense it defines the role that the department plays in the overall corporate structure.

What are the goals of the business?

This answers the questions where you want to go or where you want to be in the future.  The analysis for all three types of plans takes into account where you are currently, how you got there, and where you want to go from here.  It may also consider an analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats or a SWOT analysis.  Examining this question will assist in setting goals and objectives for the future such as increasing sales by x% or streamlining operations to achieve $y in cost savings each year.

How will you get there?

This describes the tactics that your business or department will use to achieve your goals.  Some examples of tactics are as follows: Should you use public relations, social networking or simple advertising to get your name and products out in front of the competition and increase sales? Should you automate certain aspects of your business, in order to save costs? Should you expand the business? Should you invest in more equipment or people?

It is not difficult to create a business, strategic or operational plan, remember all they really do is answer 3 simple questions; what the business does, what are the goals of the business and how the business will reach those goals. Business planning is all about having a plan of action to propel your business into the future. Now you, the business owner, need to decide whether you want to plan for your business or attempt to operate on the fly.