October is not only the time of year when school is back in session and the leaves start to turn. It’s also the time to focus on enhancing your business by conducting targeted year-end planning.
It’s during this planning phase that business owners can define a direction for the company, focus resources, and set priorities and action steps. Targeted year-end planning is vital to a company’s success.
You can start by looking at your company from all angles and in a new light. Seek the input of people who work outside of the company. Or, have in-person discussions with your customers — in this digital age, posts and comments satisfy the need for immediate contact/feedback, but it’s hard to replace the nuance of face-to-face interactions.
It’s also important to take a few steps back and look at your whole “ecosystem”: suppliers, competitors, and likely buyers in your business segment. What issues are your suppliers facing? Is your competition developing anything new that will impact your business down the road? Do your customers have specific needs that aren’t being met?
Also, get to know the key drivers that enhance your business value and growth. As a refresher, key drivers can be recurring revenue, growth potential, market share, customer diversification, brand recognition, and innovation.
Questions you should be asking yourself:
Do we have the right people in leadership positions with the required capabilities?
Are we able to attract and retain quality employees?
Why do we feel our business has revenue growth potential?
What information do we have about our competitors and market?
Does our company have margin advantage?
What areas in our business are weak?
What is causing problems in these areas?
How are these problems affecting our potential for growth?
Do we know what the best practices are in financial matters and do we follow those practices?
Once you have assessed what you’ve learned, it’s time to identify priorities.
What Are Your Priorities?
Undertaking too many initiatives can overwhelm a team and create a lack of focus. Resources are limited, so prioritizing initiatives will bring the biggest return to the company while reducing wasted time, misplaced energy, and misdirected money.
Based on your analysis of the key drivers that enhance your business value, identify those areas that, if acted upon, will bring your company the biggest bang for its buck.
Where are your gaps, and what steps can be taken to close those gaps?
Do areas of risk exist that will hinder your company’s sustainable growth?
Set Measurable Goals
Ask yourself, “What will success look like?” Employees are motivated to actively contribute to the success of the company when it is clear what they are working to achieve. Consider setting “SMART” goals — goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
A specific goal should answer “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “why.” Establish concrete criteria for measuring the progress and attainment of a goal. Be sure that the goals are important and realistically attainable within a specified time frame. For example, a SMART goal for margin growth may be, “We will increase the gross profit percentage on the blue gadget product line from 45 percent to 50 percent by Dec. 31, 2019.”