Erica Boling, PhD
As we approach the end of the year, we frequently find ourselves reflecting upon the past and wondering what the New Year will bring. Even though this is a time that can be very hectic and stressful for many business owners, it’s important to set time aside to plan for the upcoming year.
When life gets busy, we often find ourselves just trying to survive the day. Living in “survival mode” might help us feel accomplished when we complete our daily tasks, but it can hold us back from taking our business to the next level. It could also be detrimental for the long-term sustainability of our business.
Setting time aside to focus on our business is essential if you want to have the best year ever. Having a vision for the future of your business and making time for business planning can help you achieve the successful business (and lifestyle) that many people only dream of having.
There is no question about it. All business owners should be setting time aside for business planning. Research shows that planning improves business performance. In one study that looked at the business growth of over 11,000 companies, Brinckmann, Grichnik and Kapsa (2010) found that planning benefited existing businesses even more than it benefited startups.
Setting business plans and goals for the upcoming year can be overwhelming. Some people feel like they are just setting themselves up for failure and worry that they can’t achieve their goals. To avoid these feelings, they simply avoid planning. Don’t do this! Planning can be motivating and exciting as you think about what’s possible. Planning is less about accurately predicting the future more about “setting regular goals, tracking your actual progress toward those goals, and making changes to your business as you learn more about your customers” (Parsons, 2019).
Strategies for Getting Started
Strategies for getting started include setting time aside for your planning. Begin by reflecting upon the previous year, what went well, what didn’t go well, and why. Take what you learn from these reflections and then map out changes you would like to make in the upcoming year. Also make note of what things will remain the same.
Next, imagine yourself exactly one year from now reflecting back upon a successful year. What does that vision of your business look like? What have you achieved? What does success look like? Reflect upon and write down your major accomplishments. Picture yourself celebrating these successes.
Once you have a vision of your major accomplishments, start doing “backward” planning. This includes writing down the major projects that need to be completed to experience your end-of-the-year success. Once you have identified 3 to 5 key projects, identify the steps that need to be taken to make them happen. Finally, plot out these steps across the year so that you know what you need to start working on right now and what you should be working on down the road. Having this map planned out across the year will help minimize overwhelm. It helps you stay focused on what needs to get done today, this week and this month without losing site of the bigger picture.
Break up your yearly plan into quarters to make it more manageable (and less overwhelming). What are the big tasks and goals that you would like to achieve by the end of each quarter? Finally, break things down at a weekly level for tasks and goals that are set for the current quarter.
More Tips for Success
As you move forward with your planning, here are some additional tips for creating your best year ever!
- Set time aside for your planning. Put it on your calendar and periodically revisit it to make changes as needed. Remember this is less about accurately predicting the future and more about setting goals, tracking progress and making changes along the way!
- Keep the vision and mission for your business in mind. What’s driving you? What excites you? If you are not feeling motivated, excited and invigorated by your plans, this is a sign that you might need to make some changes and adjustments to your business!
- While working on the finer details of your plan, think about how you can do things more effectively and efficiently. Often technology can help you! Keep in mind that it’s worth investing time now to learn new technologies and skills that will ultimately help you save time and energy down the road.
- When it comes to technology, consider using a program like Babel Bark’s BizBark. BizBark was specifically designed to help canine business owners just like you. It takes care of your business so that you have more time to take care of dogs and their owners! BizBark provides an easy way to connect with pets, people and partners in your community. It can also help you with the following…
- Enhancing communication with current and potential clients
- Staying connected with pet parents in your local area where marketing works best
- Offering easy scheduling for your clients by providing a quick and simple way to schedule, move, cancel or confirm appointments
- Incorporating “push promotions” into your marketing strategies so that you can be more easily seen by those who need you most
- Creating a powerful onboarding process that welcomes new clients and helps establish a relationship that can last a lifetime
Want to Know More?
Successful business planning frequently does not happen alone and in isolation. When creating a bigger vision for a more successful business, it often helps to reach out to others. If you would like to learn more about BizBark and how it can be used to support your business, we are here to help! Click below to create your BizBark account today and to schedule a BizBark demo. It’s time to create your best year ever and turn those dreams into reality!
Brinckmann, J., Grichnik, D., & Kapsa, D. (2010). Should entrepreneurs plan or just storm the castle? A meta-analysis on contextual factors impacting the business planning–performance relationship in small firms. Journal of Business Venturing, 25(1), 24-40. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2008.10.007
Parsons, N. (2019). Do You Need a Business Plan? Scientific Research Says Yes. Retrieved from https://articles.bplans.com/do-you-need-a-business-plan-scientific-research-says-yes/