Learn from the past
Many businesses will be starting to forecast how their market will develop over the course of the next year and attempting to create plans to take advantage of changes in the business environment.
The best way to start this is by asking yourself what you can learn from last year’s performance. What did you get right? What did you get wrong? What should you do more of? What should you stop doing?
You should also ask what’s missing from the business and what could be added. For instance, do you need to develop a new training plan for staff or conduct some market research? Can you increase your profit margins?
Once you’ve identified and analysed the past year’s activities, it’s time to start looking forward. Further ahead than you may anticipate.
The starting point here is to ask yourself where you want be in 5 years time? Where you want to be in 5 years may seem far off but if know where you want to be in 5 years, you’ll know where you need to be in 12 months!
Now is when you should start forecasting developments in the business environment and analysing how they will affect your business and how you will take advantage of or combat any changes you believe will have an affect on the growth of your business.
By now you will have found that you already have objectives. All you need to do is make sure that your objectives are well defined or SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For instance, “increased gross profit” should not be one of your objectives; rather, “increase gross profit by 8% by cutting operating costs by January 2016 by reducing the amount of materials wasted during production” should be.
Map out your journey
Once you have your goals and objectives defined you can start to map out your plan to achieve them. Make sure that you have this written down somewhere so you can refer to it regularly to avoid going off track or falling behind.
Your plan should include details about who is accountable for achieving specific goals and milestones as well as estimating the cost of achieving your goals - set aside a budget and stick to it!
Finally, to ensure the longevity of your business you should make a concerted effort to build a sustainable business model rather than achieving a rate of growth that is too fast and could ultimately result in the failure of the business.
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