Planning for your best year yet

Are you planning for your best year yet?

Where am I now? Where do I want to be? How will I get there? Three basic questions that will help you review, plan and then do for next year.

So has 2013 been your best year yet? Are you in credit or debit on your balance sheet? And how about your emotional bank account – are you happier, more content or more stressed, maybe even frazzled? What has gone well or not so well? What will you keep doing and what will you change?

Too often we are tempted to rush from pillar to post, moving rapidly from one task to another. Suddenly it’s one year to another without time for any reflection. Sure, we need to avoid paralysis by analysis but we also need to avoid headless chicken mode too. So when was the last time you sat down with a trusted colleague or friend to review your progress and get the right amount of challenge and support you need? Here are my tips to look back. 

  • Your review will need to include your learning points. Include the good as well as the bad. 
  • Remain positive, resisting any temptation to beat yourself up. 
  • Adopt the belief that there is no such thing as failure - only learning. 
  • Identify the things you plan to take forward and those things you need to let go.

When looking ahead consider the external factors that are likely to impact on your business over the next 12 months and beyond. Take the longer term view. Involve those close to you to look at these critical factors:

  • What are the changes in the political landscape that may offer opportunity or threat to your business? Think local and central government. 
  • Map your projected activity against the forecasted direction of our economy.
  • Consider the social trends that will impact on your customer base and workforce.
  • Don’t ignore how technology is changing things for you, your customers and your suppliers.
  • Ask yourself what anticipated changes in the law need to be factored in.
  • Reflect on the environmental issues that you need to be mindful of to ensure that your business is sustainable in the eyes of your customers, employees and other key stakeholders.

Thinking strategically is also about reviewing your competition too. Identify any new competitors in your market place, the new products and services that are being introduced. Consider what is impacting the bargaining power of your suppliers and buyers too.

Before making your plans for 2014 and beyond, remember to look internally at your business. Examine the strengths and weaknesses of your company, the opportunities you have and those threats that may disrupt your plans. Create your plan to include challenging yet reasonable objectives to meet your overall goals. Remember to share these with your people to gain their engagement and understanding too – after all it’s your team that will make your plans happen.

Strategic planning can be fun. In my experience, facilitating strategic thinking workshops is an engaging experience for everyone involved. The most successful events I've run are those which also look at how teams are working too. However you decide to do it, make sure you take time out to reflect on the past, celebrate the now and then look ahead to the future to make 2014 your best year yet.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory business training & coaching.

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