The new year will be here sooner than we're ready for, so it's time we all start planning for Q1 to ensure we have the best 2017 possible.
Here are three of our best planning tips that have served us well as a small business over the past 5+ years.
1. Look at the entire picture and choose focus areas
Consider your past marketing and business strategies and how those have served your overall growth. Once you've compiled those thoughts, consider where you are now and how you got there; What are your most successful channels? What were your strongest months? Are there opportunities for repeat business?
Next consider where you want to be one year from now. Then choose 2-3 focus areas to really monitor, analyze, and succeed with over the next 90 days and communicate that with your team.
Some examples of focus areas are:
- Hiring a new key team member
- Re-delegating some tasks
- Giving full attention to an important project
- Generating more leads
- Improving systems your team uses
- Creating a new product or service
2. Make it measurable
Find a way to quantify your business goals so you have measurable data to reference and work with in the future - it may be tedious, but you'll thank yourself at the beginning and end of each quarter.
Once you've established the opportunities you want to focus on, what will that look like for your business? Will it be X% more leads? Or 1,000 more email subscribers? 300 sales of the latest product? Whatever it may be, establish that goal and communicate it with the team. Break it down into 30 day increments if you'd like and ask your team to report numbers at the end of every month or even week. Putting actual numbers on your goals is a great way to develop metrics to aspire to, develop marketing strategies, and hit your sales numbers.
Remember, this is only a focus for the first quarter so choose only 2-3 areas to really zone in on and make sure they're realistic and measurable. Be sure to clarify what success means in the focus areas to your team and what the key performance indicators will be. And remember to also celebrate those successes.
3. Make an action plan
In order to keep your team on the same page, you should create 5-7 steps in your action plan per focus area for Q1. The implementation of these steps should be assigned to appropriate team members or leads and clear accountability will help keep them, and yourself, on target. This creates signposts along the path in the roadmap to measurable success, which not only enables your team to take initiative and be accountable, but also allows you more time to focus on other business needs.
A final word of advice is to never think you have to go it alone. Don't be afraid to hire the social media team, or the accountant, or the virtual assistant. Services like these exist to allow you to delegate business needs to the experts without having to hire new staff or entire teams before you can afford that level of growth. This way you're still hitting all of your business needs and opportunities at a fraction of the cost. Consider it an investment for the future.