Strategic planning for the new year
| |

Time to choose your rocks

2012 is drawing to a close, and most business owners I talk to say it’s been a pretty good year. Most businesses are making money again, hiring new people and moving forward.

Strategic planning for the new year

That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and unicorns. I don’t see anyone resting on their laurels. There’s so much change, so much to figure out. The process of generating leads and closing sales is in turmoil for many businesses. Generational differences are driving changes in hiring, workplace design, meeting rhythms, and so much more. What is changing in your business? What do you have to have figured out by this time next year?

Having a list of 10 things (or 100 things) that you have to figure out is not all that useful. Our brains start to lose track of things somewhere between 5-7. So narrow down the list to a manageable number of must complete priorities. I call these my rocks — or a fancy way of saying it is strategic plan. These are the things you should be committed 100 percent to completing.

Because these things are so important, and because you’re forgoing other worthy initiatives to focus on these things, be really deliberate about what you choose. These should be mostly important but not urgent priorities. (The urgent issues take care of themselves; it’s the important but not urgent that need special emphasis.) So the list that immediately leaps to mind may not be what you want to focus on; instead, take some time for deliberate reflection.

Get your team together for an offsite meeting or brainstorm with a trusted advisor. Think over a long time horizon: What are the big trends affecting your business? Your clients’ businesses? What initiatives, if successful, could be game changers for you or your clients? Take time and let it percolate.

Once you’ve generated your list, narrow it down. The power of this exercise is to identify the 3-5 things that you commit yourself to and that you will complete without fail. Which initiatives have the potential to make the biggest impact? Which ones face the most resistance from you or your team? Which ones scare you? How closely are each of them tied to driving your economic engine?

Now that you’ve narrowed the list, build a plan to actually accomplish them. Get some help from your team and announce it to your whole company, your advisors, friends and family so they will hold you accountable. Burn your boats!  What are you committing to accomplishing in the next year?

Photo credit: Mattias F

Take our Business
Growth assessment

Learn what stage growth your buisiness is in and get specific recommendations for how to move forward.