While it may seem like the first quarter of 2015 is eons away, it’s really not, at least in terms of planning. Both strategy and marketing are areas that require you to start thinking well in advance. After all, you don’t want to be caught at year’s end trying to plan what your company does in January. And yet so few small business owners take the time (and foresight) to think that far ahead.
It’s time to start planning for Q1. I’ve put together these five important steps to help you have the most successful year yet.
1. Look at the Big Picture
Before you can plan for the future, you need a solid idea of where your business is currently and compare it to past growth and strategy. Figure out what your strong revenue months are and look for opportunities for repeat business. Seeing where you’ve grown, improved, or possibly digressed gives you an honest glimpse into what is happening in your small business. This helps you make better plans for the future.
2. Do a SWOT Analysis
Conducting a regular SWOT analysis is one of the best ways to see the big picture and home in on specific areas of your business to improve. Things in your business change constantly. What might have worked a year ago could work against you in the future.
Use this analysis to get a clear idea of where you’ve grown and where you’ve fallen short. You can also discover new areas where you might find more opportunities to make more money and grow.
3. Quantify Your Business Goals
Once you’ve solidified where the opportunities are in your market, quantify what it will look like for your small business in terms of your sales goals. Broad, nonspecific goals rarely produce the kind of results you want. Focus instead on 30-day sales goals, which means you can identify your weekly sales goals. Putting numbers on your business goals gives you a well-defined metric to reach for, and a way to design your marketing tactics to achieve your sales goals. Given that you’re just working on Q1, decide what specific goals you want to achieve during those three months of the new year.
4. Create an Action Plan
To keep everyone in your organization on the same page about how you will reach your new business goals for the quarter, create an action plan. This plan should incorporate every person involved in making these goals a reality. By defining each person’s roles in working toward the goal, you create accountability. As the motivation from a new quarter and new business goal dies down, use this action plan to keep your team on target to dramatically increase your chances at success.
5. Start Delegating
Savvy small business owners know how impossible it is to tackle everything alone. Once you have a clear direction in mind of where you want to go in Q1, hand some stuff off to experts who can help. Whether you pass off your blogging and SEO efforts to the marketing team or recruit the help of a CPA to develop your 2015 budget, delegating tasks frees you up to focus on what you do best.
Planning might not always seem like the most fun task, but it is critical for your company’s growth. It allows you to set specific goals and define how you will reach each one. With a solid plan, your small business will see the growth you desire and bring you more success!
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