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Start Your Planning with a Review

By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO of Gail Doby Coaching & Consulting
Photo Credit: DesiLu Photography

You know how diet and exercise plans always include the caution to check with your physician before beginning any new program? Well, the same thing applies to doing your annual business planning. You don’t have to consult your doctor, of course, but, for the best results, you should give your business a thorough check-up before you do anything else.

Start by gathering the data on how your business performed this past year. What were your annual revenues? How much profit did you make? How many clients did you have? Of those, how many were new clients? How many projects did you do? Of what size and value? How much profit did you earn on each project?

Now compare the data you’ve compiled against the business plan you developed for the year. Did you meet your goals? If not, where did you fall short? Why? What, in hindsight, could have done differently to achieve those goals? Do you see any notable differences between the goals you met and the goals you missed? Why do you think that is? Try to identify weak areas you can improve upon and strengths you can build on.

Apply the same process to your marketing plan. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? How was your return-on-investment? Did you get better results from spending more money or spending more time on your marketing and client development efforts? Again, you want to hone in on strategies and activities that were most effective and jettison those that did not produce sufficient results.

Finally, review your operations and staffing. Are there areas where you would have benefitted from greater efficiencies or lower costs? Did you have sufficient staff or outsourced help to handle your workload and meet your goals? If not, do you need more hands, more time for critical business activities, or more capacity in order to grow your business as you envision?

In doing your review, the object is not to problem solve. That can come later. You want to focus on comparing how you did against your plans, and you want to identify strengths and weaknesses in all areas of your business. Together, that information will form the foundation from which you can then begin to plan for the coming year.

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