10 Tough Questions for End of Year Business Planning
Does this statement sound familiar?
“I’ll start that after January 1st.”
Believe it or not, January 1st is now less than a month away. There isn’t a lot of time left to prepare for all the big plans we’ve made or put off until the New Year.
Here’s something you may find interesting.
According to a study done by the University of Scranton, only 45% of Americans make end of year resolutions or plans for the New Year. Of those individuals, only 8% of them are successful in following through with them.
Why is this percentage so low?
In our experience, we believe the main reason why so many individuals fail, even with best intentions, is because they simply don’t have an effective method of planning and staying accountable.
With this in mind, I have outlined the 10 Tough Questions business owners or individuals need to ask (and answer) for themselves to aid in year end business planning that sticks.
Question 1: Did you accomplish the goals you set last December?
At the end of every year, we sit down and go over what we accomplished over the past year, for better or for worse. We list the goals that we established in December of last year and see how our performance stacked up.
What does this look like?
One reason plans fail is that there often isn’t any accountability in the first place. Is there a quantifiable way to measure your progress?
This may be difficult if you didn’t make concrete and measurable goals last year. The core essence of setting goals is in keeping those goals front and center. If you can’t remember what the goal is, how can you expect to reach it?
If you didn’t set goals last year, that’s okay! There is still plenty of time to have some for next year.
Question 2: Do you have a process to evaluate and assess your success over the past 12 months?
If you made goals last year, do you know how to tell if you accomplished them?
We encourage our clients to only set goals that can be measured quantifiably.
Are you setting goals that have tangible outcomes?
For example, an unquantifiable goal might be that you want to “feel better”. However, what does that mean? Break down these types of goals with measurable outcomes. Feeling better might mean you can walk up 3 flights of stairs to the office without getting out of breath or not having to visit the doctor las much or spending less money on doctor visits.
For weight loss goals, this might be a number on the scale. For business growth, this might be a goal net income. And for sales, this might be a certain level of conversion rates.
Whatever your goal might be, make sure you can measure your progress over the year. Otherwise, you’ll have no way of knowing if you’ve achieved your goal or not.
Question 3: Have you had a planning session for the New Year?
In the first two questions, we stressed the importance of making measurable goals and evaluating past goal achievement. However, in order to do this, a formal planning session needs to be set.
The problem with the American attitudes towards “New Years Resolutions” is that our end of year planning is not treated with the weight and importance it deserves.
The plans you make (or do not make) now will effect the next year, one way or another.
Take this planning seriously. Set aside some time in your schedule for year end business planning.
Question 4: What activities do I need to do LESS of this year?
Most people are busy, not productive.
Lots of things take up our time. Activities and people pull at us. It can be difficult to say no.
However, your success over the next 12 months depends more on to what you’re saying “No” than “Yes”.
What activities or memberships were a waste of time, effort, and money? Are there things you don’t want to repeat?
Get rid of things that distract from your goals and are non-essential for growth. This will ensure you make the progress you’re hoping to by next December.
Question 5: What activities should I do more of this year?
Keep the main thing, the main thing.
Once you know what your main goals are, make a list of activities that will help you achieve those goals. Once this is done, you can practically plan your daily and weekly calendars to be full of purposeful, effective activities that will bring you closer to that goal.
If it seems simple, that’s because it is.
Goal achievement isn’t abstract or difficult to understand. It’s as simple as knowing what you want, knowing how to get to what you want, and just plain getting to work to do the things that will get you there.
Question 6: Do you know where your leads came from last year?
Do you track from where your business comes?
As we discussed in Questions 1 and 2, it’s important to look back before you look forward.
Evaluate your lead sources. Did you get business from your Chamber of Commerce or Association membership? Are your social media efforts effective in capturing leads? What about your referral sources?
If a lead generation source was NOT effective, is there something you need to do to change the outcome? Did you do everything you needed to do to get your source to pay off? If not, you may want to invest more time and effort into optimizing your lead sources. However, if you’ve done everything with no payoff, it may be time to focus elsewhere.
Question 7: Do you have a process to gain more clients?
How many sources of leads do you have?
There are many different sources of leads. From social media, to trade shows, to referrals and associations, or even call lists; all can be sources of generating leads.
Many business owners rely on 1 or 2 lead sources to generate all their leads. We caution against this.
What would happen if one of your lead sources dried up?
What if your main source of referrals got sick or moved away? Would your business suffer or would you have another way to gain new clients?
The customer is the air a business breathes. Just like humans, without this air, your business wont last long without it. Keep accumulating sources of leads like your life depends on it.
Question 8: Have you mastered the skills required to grow your business?
In your industry, what are the top 5 skills at which you need to be GREAT? This could be communication skills, phone scripting, or even a skill such as healthy cooking or meal planning.
How do I practically evaluate if I’ve mastered those skills?
It’s very simple.
If you are not getting the results you would like, you haven’t mastered the skills.
However, if your results are great or getting better, you can know you’ve mastered those skills.
Skills quantify out quickly.
Question 9: Do you have a personal growth plan for the coming year?
For business owners and entrepreneurs, you ARE your business. Any plan for and investment in personal growth is going to be an investment in your business.
However, even if you work as an employee, your personal growth will effect, positively or negatively, the growth and sustainability of the company for which you work. This growth will also effect your level of dispensability to your employer.
Simply stated, your personal growth planning will effect your professional development, as well.
How do I plan for personal growth?
Make a list of books to read. This will help you grow and develop your mindset and attitude.
Find an industry specific CD/DVD/Podcast series. Choose to listen to someone who’s going to speak into you in a way that helps you execute better.
Attend seminars and conferences for growth and to improve associations.
Need help finding great resources for personal growth? Contact Joe Pici for his personal Library recommendations.
Question 10: What happens if you DON’T improve/enhance your skills in the coming year?
If you’re not getting better you’re getting worse.
The competition keeps on moving. So if we’re not staying ahead of the game, the competition will not only catch up, but then pass us by.
The biggest motivator for reaching our goals is establishing the consequences if we don’t. This doesn’t have to be a self-imposed consequence. This is what will practically happen if you don’t reach your goal.
Will your business fail? Will you lose you job?
Even if you had a great year, don’t sit on the success. Keep looking forward to the next goal and keep moving forward.
At the end of the day, you need to evaluate what took place over the past 12 months. Are you happy with the last year?
If not, make every effort to change the next one.
Joe Pici has been ranked by Global Gurus in the TOP 30 Sales trainers internationally. Call him now for a FREE consultation and see what Pici & Pici can do for you!c407-947-2590