I hope that I’ve made my point (in previous blogs) that it is my total belief that we make everything more complex than it needs to be, particularly regarding success. There are disciplines we need to practice day-in-day-out that will provide a solid foundation for all else we do.
End-of-year planning, in my experience, carries the same burden. Evaluating your year ending and planning for the new year can be a complex, detailed, time-consuming vortex that burns thousands of hours and millions of dollars.
And it is unnecessary, especially if you are an entrepreneur or small business owner.
I coached a vast, multi-billion dollar company years ago that began their new year planning and budget development in August of each year, intending to have the plan written and approved by mid-December. But what if you don’t have the luxury of time and money to work through such an elaborate process?
Keep it simple, but do the work and ask yourself the tough questions.
One of the primary rules of successful entrepreneurial businesses is that you must have the guts to look back on the past year and ask yourself, “How did we do?” I know for a fact that many struggling businesses will just guess how they did or will ignore all that happened in the past year, only reveling in the good things that occurred. This is dangerous. Very dangerous.
If you’re running hard and don’t have a month to plan, then take a day or weekend with your team. I’ve simplified the process into a series of steps and essential questions that will get you moving toward creating an effective plan for the new year.
I always try to ask myself or my clients some tough questions. These questions can turn into many more, but these are the tough ones that need to be asked;
- Were we profitable this past year? Do we even know?
- Did we reach our goals? (Did we forget to set goals?)
- What did we do that worked this past year?
- What did we do that didn’t work this past year?
- What business lines need to be expanded or deleted?
- What product lines need to be expanded or deleted?
- What opportunities do we need to take advantage of, personally or professionally?
- What opportunities did we have this past year that we didn’t take advantage of?
- What lessons did we learn?
Other helpful yet basic questions that need to be addressed at some point might include;
- Who needs to be promoted on my team?
- Who needs to be fired?
- What areas do we need to hire for?
- What’s our daily mindset? What’s mine? What’s the mindset of my team? (Survival or Possibility)
- Are my job descriptions clear?
These questions do not require a complicated piece of software or an app. They do need to be asked in an open and honest setting. They must be answered with appropriate action taken.
Remember that the equation is
QUESTION + ANSWER + SOLUTION/PLAN of ACTION = A big New Year.
These questions can be your plan if you don’t have time for a long, drawn-out process. However, the key to this process working is totally and completely based on having the nerve to ask and learn the answers. Some of your answers should and will be hard to swallow because they will expose issues, needs, and challenges that must be immediately addressed. But, with the right attitude, there should be no finger-pointing or recrimination.
It’s all about wanting to understand how you can be better and then committing to it.
Keep it simple.
Create a plan for the new year.