Every year about this time, a familiar chorus echoes throughout the offices I visit, “How is it already November?!?” I can’t explain it, but the end of the year sneaks up like a cat (ninja?) wearing slippers every year, and here we are in the 4th Quarter, staring hard in the face of 2014. Does this happen to you too? What are your end of year challenges? Have you completed your 2014 strategic plan for growth? Congratulations if you have, you’re likely on the way to a strong 1st quarter and 2014. If not, don’t sweat it… yet, there is still plenty of time, but you need to hustle. Here is a quick way to get ready for next year.
Go Forward By Looking Back
First of all, you need to take stock and reflect on the past year. Some people might choose to do a full SWOT analysis… strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a thorough approach, and we recommend it, but at the very least ask yourself the following questions: What went well? What didn’t go well? What do you need to do differently next year to be more successful? The process of doing this type of reflection isn’t difficult but it takes time, and for whatever reason we find it is the most often skipped step in planning.
Below are some essential categories that you need to examine in order to plan for next year.
Marketing and Events
What did you spend money on to bring in business? What events did you attend/sponsor? What was your ROI? Then, make a list of the things you will spend money on next year and create a budget. Most importantly, resist doing things year after year unless you can tie specific results to it… AND, if you find you must do something that hasn’t given you desired results, change the way you engage in the event.
Sales/New Client Development
How many new clients did you bring in? What activities brought in the most new clients? How do you reach more new clients? Is everyone in your organization focused on growth?
Existing Customer Relationships
Are your clients happy? How do you know? Are you growing within current clients? If not, then why not? How is your client retention with new clients? Are you creating loyal customers? How can you leverage your fans for more business?
Executive Level Selling
What role does the executive leadership in your organization play in bringing in new business and maintaining/growing current business? Are your key customer relationships ‘layered’ throughout your organization, meaning do these critical customers have a relationship with more than one or two people? If not, why not?
Culture and Employee Engagement
Are your employees happy? How do you know? What is the culture at your company? Are your employees ‘raving fans’? If not, then what can you do about it in 2014?
Budget and Goal Setting
Did you remain on budget this year? What does it look like for next year? Does everyone in your organization have goals? Are they focused on activity and results?
Does everyone on your team know what is expected of them? Is it written down? Do you need to reframe the expectations for next year? If so, what would that look like? The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to get everyone on the same page.
What is the employee development strategy for next year? Do your department leads have a plan? Have they “stack ranked” each member of their team and created a strategy to retain the top 10%? What’s the plan to get that middle bunch into the top tier? Take a close look at the bottom tier, and create a plan to either coach UP or OUT each employee in this category. Do you need to hire? Do you have a recruiting pipeline? If not, how can you get your entire team engaged?
These categories will get you started, but it is likely that you will identify additional areas of concern once you dive into the process. Yes, it’s November, and yes, the holidays are upon us, but it’s not too late to make sure you have a solid plan before the New Year is upon us. If this process is new to you, give us a call, we would be happy to help.
Grow Big or Go Home!