What are you doing different today to market your business and sell your products from the way you did it last year? A lot of businesses get their managers together annually to hammer out the sales and marketing plan for the coming year. What they always start with is the performance of the ending year and, if they're smart, they look back at what they planned to occur as compared to what actually happened.
In an ideal world, they would spend some time celebrating great wins, analyzing unfortunate shortfalls and recognizing people who performed particularly well. No plans such as these come off exactly as hoped but if they were well considered in the beginning, adjusted in progress, and executed with discipline then the outcome will have been predictable and not unexpected.
The problem comes when companies fail to plan at all but the vast majority of small businesses approach each year with no plan, no analysis of what worked, what didn't and why. And yet they end each year with no idea why their business didn't improve as expected. No idea why sales didn't grow, employees didn't progress, new products didn't come to fruition and no idea how to do better in the future.
Let's turn that around.
It doesn't matter that it's not October first or January first. You can make a plan today to take you to whatever date you desire so here we go. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are my goals for the business that I can accomplish in five years? Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Based).
- If I'm going to reach the five-year goals, what has to be accomplished a year from now? These should have more detail and be progressing towards individual actions.
- If I'm going to reach the one-year goals, what do I have to accomplish in the next 90 days? These should be more detailed and have specific people and functions assigned for responsibility.
- If we're going to reach the 90-day goals what has to happen each week over the next 13 weeks. This is where it gets really detailed. Think in terms of who will do the work, what teams need to be assembled. What marketing, budgeting, resources, internal and external events need to occur? What items need to happen progressively and what can be occurring simultaneously? What will have to be an extra duty and what is in the normal job description? Will we have to hire more people? Are there enough hours in a reasonable week? How does all this mesh with the normal day-to-day work of the business?
You can't do it all yourself!
These plans can be created over any subject. Make one just for product development, one just for marketing, or have your sales team develop one and present it to you for approval. Ideally all the plans work in tandem to create a master guidance for your business for the year. Managers will have to keep them under supervision and present changes to you or the team for approval. They'll have to be cross checked to make sure they continue to support the timeline of the overarching goals and that available resources are still available. But having a plan to march to that is realistic, challenging and achievable is much better than floating along like last year, and the likelihood of growth and achievement for the business is almost assured.
Determine your goals, make a plan, and follow your plan. See you in a year. Good luck!