Did you know that December is National Write a Business Plan Month? Maybe they picked December to counterbalance all the good vibes associated with Christmas, but that’s merely speculation…
I have met a few people who relish planning, but I think those who dislike it or are indifferent to planning are probably in the majority. Further, quite a few successful businesses get started by folks who are flying by the seat of their pants. However, it’s just about impossible to manage any serious growth that way.
Back in the days of original The A-Team television show, George Peppard’s character, John “Hannibal” Smith had a famous line: “I love it when a plan comes together!” This can be the key for those of us who aren’t ecstatic at the thought of doing some serious planning; when you experience a successful plan a few times, you begin to create an affinity for the process.
Back to your roots
The waning days of 2014 are the ideal time to draft some plans for the upcoming year and review previous plans. Do you have your original business plan after which this month is dedicated? If you do, dig it up and look it over.
Related Article: Make Your Business Plan Stand Out
First, this exercise allows you to relive some of the energy and enthusiasm you had when you started your business. It also gives you a chance to re-experience your original vision. How would you judge where you are today against where you thought you were going when you started out? Is there anything in your earlier plan(s) that you have overlooked? Maybe with additional experience and knowledge, an earlier failed and abandoned dimension of your business can be pursued once again.
Manage your marketing
The major currents in digital marketing won’t change much next year, they are:
- Content marketing,
- Social media marketing,
- Mobile marketing, and
- Email marketing.
These overlap a lot and that might be one of the most important things to consider as you plan for next year. For example, if you do a lot of email marketing, are your emails easy to read on mobile devices? If they include links, are the landing pages optimized for mobile?
With content marketing, some of your content will be articles, others will be media, such as graphics and videos. How do those formats dovetail with your social media presence? Look at my list above and consider all the permutations of these digital marketing strategies and channels.
Create your targets
Finally, set measurable goals for yourself. Put these in two categories. The first category is what you commit to doing. You might promise yourself that one third of all your tweets next year will include a graphic (they draw more attention), or that you will post two blogs each week. Or your goal might be increased click-throughs that can be measured via your email provider, such as Constant Contact.
Related Article: Strategic Goal Planning for Savvy Businesses
The second category is increased business. This can be measured by counting new clients/customers and adding up your sales. Working with the right CRM system, you can find out where you’re having success and where you’re falling flat.
One final word of advice. Always keep the 80/20 principle in mind. It says that 20 percent of your activities will produce 80 percent of your income. Once you understand this and identify your 20 percent, that’s where most of your plans for growth and improvement should be concentrated.
This article was originally published by Susan Solovic
Published: December 30, 2014