Our business planning tips for a cohesive transition and successful New Year!

Are you tired of the New Year blogs?
Are you over evaluating what 2014 was about and are you knee deep in 2015 so you can’t take the time anymore to plan it?

I was feeling some of those things over the past week or so but it’s early days in a new year and I recognize that I can glean some tangible value for business planning by assessing 2014 and making a few thoughtful choices about 2015.

One thing I love about the New Year is the feeling that you get a fresh start. Yes, it’s true, you can do this all year long, any time you like, but the forced nature of the transition to a New Year is helpful for me.

So, how do you wrap up 2014? What does that even mean? For our business planning, it means asking ourselves a few questions:

  1. Review financials – how did we do? What trends did we see? Did we grow in certain areas but not in others?
  2. Review plans and goals for 2014 – how did we do against our plans and goals? Where did we excel and where did we fall short? And what did we learn?
  3. What did we struggle with in 2014? – how can we make that better in 2015?
  4. What did we love doing - how can we do more of THAT?

An offsite meeting for annual planning- making the process fun and focused

We knew we needed to answer these questions and we wanted our team members to participate. What we have come to learn is that we need to get ourselves out of our usual spaces in order to pause the work and step into the analyses and planning mode. We chose a wonderful local hotel, The Essex, for our meeting. Their “Boardroom” conference room was a perfect setting for our team to meet professionally and feel just a little bit pampered by a plated breakfast, fresh coffee, and pastries!

We teed up the above questions on a Power Point presentation and added a few more key pieces of information. We also identified things that we wanted the team to answer together and inserted them into the presentation. For instance, we wanted to nail down our own Unique Selling Proposition (learn more about how to do that here.)

Through this process we found that we had met many of our 2014 financial and strategic goals – YAY! We also were able to address changes that we made to our own business direction. Some assumptions made in January 2014 about what kind of business we would be doing did not pan out to be true.

Given what we had discovered about our own business and where we are able to provide the greatest value for clients, we were able to revise our mission statement and clearly articulate who we see as our ideal clients (Duct Tape Marketing shares a great guide for this here.) Knowing who our ideal client is helps us to be focused in our marketing and sales efforts and guides us when we need to say no to certain projects. This piece is hard, but turns out to be very important.

Transitioning the analysis into a successful plan for 2015…

We also spent time understanding what did not go well in 2014 and how we can change our own processes and behaviors so that we do not repeat our mistakes (more on why making mistakes in business is not so terrible here) For our team, we identified a need for clearly identified roles within given projects, template project plans for more standard work, and more communication, communication, communication!

During our offsite, we set some lofty and exciting revenue and business goals for 2015. We talked with the entire team about how we are going to meet those goals. This was a great opportunity for team members to ask some clear questions about our finances to date and ability to continue on our healthy growth track. For us, being open about this is helpful since we cannot get to where we want to go without the entire team’s contribution and buy in.

While we did a lot of discussing and planning; we tried not to make the meeting about creating a ton of to do’s post meeting. The purpose of this effort was to wrap up 2014 and to clearly identify our direction for 2015. The result: a strong foundation for 2015 marketing and planning efforts.

With all that, we want to thank our clients, friends, family, and community who have supported us during our first two and half years in business. 2014 was a blast and a roller coaster and we are excited to see what 2015 brings!

How do you wrap up an old year and bring in the new? Do you have tips to share?

Thanks for stopping by,
Laura

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