It’s Not Too Late to Plan for Next Year
The curtain is closing on 2021. Though 2022 is only a few weeks away, it’s never too late to start making a business plan for the upcoming year. A strategic plan, even a flexible one, provides a helpful framework to ensure a clear vision, a manageable timeline for tasks, transparency, and an understanding of annual expectations.
Benefits of Strategic Planning
The benefits of strategic planning include:
- Seeing the big picture: Viewing your business in its entirety, rather than in departmental sectors, allows for focusing on areas of improvement.
- Breaking silos: The vertical silos model of business does not rely on interdepartmental communication. Freeing your business from this rigid structure will encourage a horizontal chain of collaboration, leading to unconventional perspectives and solutions.
- Learning the truth: For internal operations to run smoothly, transparency is paramount. Building trust with team members by encouraging an open dialogue means your business will be stronger than ever heading into the new year.
- Gaining perspective: StrapOp creator Tom Paterson’s go-to line is: “Perspective before planning.” Creating a plan without fully fleshing out all possibilities, stances, and accurately seeing what is in front of you is a waste of time.
- Clarifying your vision: An intentional, decisive vision gives everyone a common understanding of future accomplishments. This is the “why” for your process and projections—and integral for a thriving business.
- Strengthening your team: The phrase, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” is an illustrative representation of how your business can suffer when everyone is not performing to their full potential. Strategic planning is a specific time to address snowballing issues, as well as set your team up for success.
- Having structure: Implementing a functional outline for meeting deadlines and making educated decisions is the main priority of a revamped structure.
- Planning to grow and change: Change is as inevitable as it is crucial. The skill of adaptation will benefit your organization when circumstances outside of your control arise, like a shift in consumer demand (or a multi-year pandemic).
What’s Different About 2022?
2020 may have felt like a bust in terms of planning. Life was certifiably paused while many industries were unable to continue pursuing their endeavors. While 2020 threw most plans out the window, it can also be viewed as a reminder that embracing change (and working flexibility into a strategic plan) is a key attribute of a successful business owner.
2021 presented new opportunities and challenges for planning. Many businesses were required to transform some aspect of their process, whether they were embracing remote work culture, optimizing their online presence, or completely restructuring teams due to state-specific mandates.
In 2022, many business owners are expecting growth, enacting a plan to maximize goals. There is a desire for customers to experience more, connect more, and seek out companies with similar alignment. This continued and heightened public support requires strategic planning to better serve a yearning, excited audience.
On the other hand, many businesses may find it difficult to retain quality employees amid the Great Resignation. Planning strategies to attract and keep key team members is of the utmost importance this year.
What to Consider for Your Annual Business Plan
Where Are You Now?
Gaining perspective is hugely important. Honestly determining your current standing is a prerequisite to designing the future. Understanding ongoing barriers, specific team skills, and underdeveloped processes allows you to construct a powerful pathway to move forward.
Choosing a strategic planning framework that starts with gaining perspective, both from internal and external sources, is the ideal way to ensure your time spent getting there will pay off.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Without a clear vision for your business, you are floundering in a sea of cloudy possibilities. A vision provides identity, motivation, and direction. Both short-term and long-term goals are defined here.
Who Is on My Team?
Building a good team is important. Everyone’s roles should provide a critical function, and team input should be constructive and well-intentioned, not pessimistically critical. Personality and talent assessments lend insight to the way you can most beneficially interact with team members and where their strong suits lie, resulting in a more cohesive environment and more goal completions.
What Could Get in Our Way?
A good plan always accounts for roadblocks and realistic setbacks. By understanding these before they happen, you will be more prepared to handle them in a less chaotic, stress-inducing manner, and resume business as usual.
What Opportunities May Arise?
Brainstorming new opportunities is a great way to get ahead of what clients or customers may be seeking out in the future, what your next candidate could bring to your team, or how to deliver more value in your services.
How Will This Work Next Year?
It is important to make sure your annual strategic planning process is replicable. My preferred planning process, StratOp, has built-in opportunities for review and adaptation. Reconvening on goals and noticing patterns from the previous year will inform what to focus on in the year ahead.
6 Strategic Planning Process Steps
Phase 1: Perspective – Where Are We Now?
I cannot state this enough: “Perspective before planning.” With an authentically motivated perspective, the planning process develops systematically.
Phase 2: Core Plan – Where Are We Headed?
With the reasoning behind what needs to be accomplished, adapted, or tossed altogether, a clear direction is uncovered.
Phase 3: Action – What’s Important Now?
A pillar of StratOp is recognizing, “What’s Important Now?” (W.I.N.’s). This team-wide understanding leads to a unified plan of action.
Phase 4: Structure – What Form Best Facilitates The Plan?
Form is the outcome of a well-defined function. When you know what you need to do, you can figure out the best way to do it. The most important aspect of form is reaching necessary decisions in a specific, time-appropriate way. A proper form can increase group accountability by providing a framework to refer back to.
Phase 5: Management – How Are We Doing?
Consistent feedback is key in maintaining a valuable, goal-oriented plan. Weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews provide a space for evaluation and subsequent evolution of the strategic plan.
Phase 6: Renewal – What Needs To Change?
Every year, the team reconvenes on the strategic plan to discuss what worked well, what needs adjustments, and how to understand the current perspective, beginning the cycle again.
New Year’s Resolutions for Business Professionals
In addition to creating and implementing a strategic plan, there are other resolutions business owners and professionals may want to consider for the new year, such as:
- Gaining perspective with executive coaching: Long-term coaching that can help you achieve quantifiable goals regarding your business processes, your leadership skills, team growth, and entrepreneurial pursuits.
- Investing in the leadership development of your team: Fostering and developing imperative leadership traits, including honesty, consistency, and confidence, will take your leadership team to the next level.
- Developing a more intentional hiring process: Utilizing talent assessments to determine strengths is a surefire way to screen potential candidates and their ability to meld with your current and ideal work culture.
Let’s Plan 2022
I am happy to set up a time to talk about your plan for 2022, business or executive coaching, or helpful Enneagram workshops. If you find yourself reading this in the new year, remember that while it’s never too late to enact a strategic plan for your business, the best time to start is now.