Welcome back to work! It’s January 2nd and it’s your first working day in 2017. And it’s the start of what will hopefully become your best year ever.
Although it’s a bit late, now is still a good time to update your business plan for 2017. Your business has hopefully had a good 2016, and with a bit of reflections and planning, the current year can become even better 🙂
Yes, we’re talking about writing your business plan for 2017! But before you give your screen a disgruntled look, read on. It can actually be fun. It’ll certainly be a rewarding exercise.
Your business plan doesn’t have to be a work of volumes. It’s your business after all, and you know all there’s to know about it and the markets you serve (or as much as you can muster). A few pages – or even a mind map if you’re more comfortable with that – will do just fine and serve your purposes.
So as you roll up your sleeves and start hammering out your thoughts, here are a few important points you want to contemplate and write down so they’ll serve as references throughout the year.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM 2016
Life is all about lessons learned, regardless of whether those are your own or someone else’s. With no doubt, the past twelve months have produced new trends, technologies, and changes you can capitalize on (or avoid). As the saying goes, “insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
So for example, has the market changed in a notable way? Are there new consumer trends that surfaced and that will manifest in 2017? Which products/ services performed well, and which ones did not? Did you come across new or improved ways to run your business? Are there any new technologies available now that could help you in streamlining your business processes and even automate some?
WHERE DO YOU WANT TO TAKE YOUR COMPANY IN 2017?
This is a very important strategic question to ponder and will impact the way you run your business. For example, has it become time to position the company for a sale so you can retire or start something else? Or will 2017 be the year when you grow beyond your current geographic boundaries and penetrate new markets?
Obviously, the above examples would take you and your company in entirely different directions and which are of a very strategic nature. Hence, whichever way you choose needs to be planned out very carefully as it will literally impact everything else you do throughout the year.
WHAT ARE THE PRODUCTS AND SERVICES YOU WILL OFFER IN 2017?
Given today’s ultrafast changing business environment, it’ll be no wonder if you determine that a once super-popular product or service is about to become obsolete. No point in hanging on to that any longer. You’ll be better off replacing a product that’s running out of stamina with something that’s more trendy and in demand – or can be reasonably expected to become trendy during the course of the year and beyond.
You will need to tap into your financial reports at this point to determine any notable growth (or decline) curves in your sales. This review should of course extend beyond 2016 and go back for as far as your records let you.
At a less drastic notion, as opposed to closing out a product, do any of your products or services need re-packaging so they remain “hot” during 2017? Are your prices still competitive? Can you change your pricing structure to provide new customers with easier entry into your brand? And while you’re at it, you should also take a look at what your competitors have been up to, right?
ARE YOU USING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION CHANNELS?
This is one area you definitely would want to revisit thoroughly. Channels that were hot a year ago may no longer be applicable to your business, and others may have emerged that you need to investigate.
The way you are using Facebook, Twitter, and other channels have changed and you need to learn how to adapt. For example, is your brand going live on Facebook yet? There’s Snapchat now, Instagram has captured a huge share of consumers’ attention, and email marketing is as hot and effective as ever, but you’ve got to use the latest tools for that.
Also, if your website doesn’t have that cool flat look with as little text as possible (yet still say as much about your company), it may be time to revamp your online piece of property into what’s trendy and expected.
CAN YOUR BUSINESS BECOME MORE PROFITABLE BY USING TECHNOLOGIES?
You’ve doubtlessly noticed that most software products that used to be cost-prohibitive are now available as a service for monthly memberships. This is really cool because small companies as ours are now able to run sophisticated CRMs, project management portals that integrate the client, HR systems to help retaining your talents, and financial management solutions that let your bill and collect money like a mega-corporation – all at costs that are reasonable in our perspective.
You’re not really into IT? Well, bad luck. You better get into it. Technology is there for a very specific reason; it’s meant to make your life easier and your company run better and more effective and efficient. And by that, you’ll of course become more profitable and can grow further. So make it a point to learn something new each week, and then implement what you find really useful. Trust us, it’ll be time and money well spent.
DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TEAM IN PLACE?
Once you’ve hammered out all of the above and then some more, you will need to make sure you have a team on board that can actually implement all of what you’ve planned out so wonderfully. Your people are your most important asset and without a great team, your brand will remain a commodity that can compete only on low price. Nobody wants to be in that place in the 21st century.
To determine if you need to expand your team or invest some funds in training and development, group your business plan’s activities into departments and start populating those with team members. Then meet with your mates extensively to make sure they are 1) on board with what you planned, and 2), have the technical skills needed to carry them out. A little training here and there will of course always be necessary.
WILL YOU NEED TO RAISE FUNDS?
There’s a good chance that some of your plans will require additional financial resources. Be that for the purposes of expanding your team or installing new technologies, if those are critical to the implementation of that great plan you just devised, you’ve got to keep in mind that you’ll need to secure adequate funding. Whether you’ll check with your bank or pitch your plan to your partners/ shareholders is of course another major issue you need to figure out.
Now that we’ve ranted on and on about business planning, it’s time to let you get back to work and wish you all a wonderful and happy New Year. May 2017 and many years to come fill your life with love, health, joy, and prosperity 🙂
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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