Ahhh, yes! It's the time of the year we gather around the holiday table with the significant people in our lives...and plan for the year ahead. (Oh, how I wish that were so.)
Unfortunately, most small business owners spend more time planning thanksgiving dinner than they do planning for business growth. And, when resources are limited, planning is even more critical.
David vs. Goliath Planning
There's more than size that separates small business from large. The most noticeable difference is how each responds to pressure, stress, overwhelm, and uncertainty.
While larger businesses spend more time in planning when things go sideways, small business owners spend their time putting out fires and dealing with day-to-day operations.
Granted, you have to weigh the importance of assessing, planning, and setting direction for business growth versus being on the streets doing your thing. However, the real value of proper planning is the time saved by focused efforts and avoiding costly decisions.
It's Not Rocket Science
A formalized strategic planning mechanism that is held annually is a nice idea. The truth is most of us small business owners aren't likely to create--or engage--in such a formalized process. In fact, the failure of most small businesses to engage in any sort of structured planning is noted as one of the primary causes of the high failure rate. That's just plain ugly--especially when its avoidable.
Regardless, we don't need an MBA or special super powers to accurately analyze and plan for the year ahead. We just need to schedule some time and take inventory of what's truly going on in our business.
Planning means we're preparing for our future success.
Business Growth Begins With An Assessment
One of the most valuable tools to identify growth opportunities is the year-end business assessment. After all, you can't properly plan in the absence of critical feedback.
A year-end business assessment provides the objectivity needed for planning. When options are considered and smart choices are made--and plans are developed accordingly--your chances of success increase and your level of performance improves (according to Jones 1982).
Objectivity accelerates your odds for a successful year ahead.
Don't Be Consumed by Your Business
It's easy to get devoured by the day-to-day hustle of a small business. We become engrossed in catching up and keeping up. Before long, we've squandered priceless resources and exhausted opportunities--all because we're too absorbed in business operations--and drained by it all.
Once you've completed your year-end assessment, make plans to...
- Run your business profitably by putting a halt to underpricing--and underearning.
- Take better care of yourself by locking in boundaries, especially related to time.
- Work each day with a clear intention culminating from clearly defined goals.
- Make better choices by escaping over commitment.
- Target double-digit business growth by delegating and outsourcing.
- Maintain better work-life balance through the use of technology.
Barely four percent of all companies in the United States reach revenues of $1 million. Even if that is not your goal, there's tremendous benefit in setting a strategic direction for your business.
This article first appeared on Synnovatia's small business growth blog.