It’s that time again. Another year is winding down and you should be planning for next year. After all, you need a good plan in place to ensure that your business continues to grow. So, in these next two posts we’ll discuss good reasons to plan for the year and good reasons not to plan for the next year. As it turns out, there are valid reasons for both. For now, let’s assume that we are going to make a plan and let’s look at all of the reasons you should. My hope is that you will see a plus and minus of certain points and will adopt those that fit your needs and ignore, or delay, those that don’t. Before we start, though, there is one thing that must be crystal clear.
An annual plan is worthless without a solid set of goals for the next year.
1) Having an annual plan allows you to forecast your business costs and revenue projections.
Probably the best reason to plan on an annual basis is that it really gives you a good look at your expenses and projected revenue. When looking at expenses, you really need to know three things. First, what did you spend this past year? Second, what do you plan to do new or different next year? Finally, you need to have a pretty conservative plan for revenue. For this last point you want to take a look at the market conditions, your business trajectory, changes you are making, etc. It is always safer to shoot low on revenue so your expenses stay in line.
2) Having an annual plan let’s you take a good look at your marketing efforts.
I really like having the ability to lay out a month-by-month plan for my marketing. Doing so gives you a good look at when you need to start planning big projects, have your printing/design/event needs and costs ahead of time, and start automating as much as you can. If there was one thing I would want to have an annual plan for, it would definitely be marketing.
3) Having an annual plan gives you the power to automate as much as you can.
We are all busy professionals. Time, if it hasn’t already, will at some point become your greatest asset and worst enemy. Your ability to automate and/or delegate as much as possible will give you the power to use more of that precious time growing your business and focusing on the tasks you really need to be doing. What an annual plan allows is an opportunity to look at what kind of help you might need reaching your goals for the coming year. That foresight might be the advantage you need to ensure you reach those goals.
4) An annual plan lets you take time to focus on each aspect of your business and personal life and development.
We’ve talked about it before on this blog, but we have a tendency, especially when we’re busy, to get so caught up in the minutiae of what we’re doing that we rarely take a moment to step back and assess everything going on in our lives. An annual plan forces you to do just that. It’s a great opportunity for you to focus on each part of your business and personal development, focus those on your goals and come away with a clear picture of where you are and what you need to do to get where you want to go.
5) An annual plan is a great accountability tool.
Let’s be honest, some of us aren’t always the best at following through on our goals and plans. Sometimes our plans are about as useful as those New Year’s resolutions we set every year. Having an annual plan written down gives you a tool to hold yourself accountable to the goals and plans you have set for yourself. Now, it would be a lot more powerful if you found an accountability partner, like a workout buddy, or a coach to help you. I highly recommend you find one or the other, or both, and do so quickly.
Having a plan can give you a powerful tool that you can use to drive your business toward your goals for the new year. Like I said, though, without solid goals in place, your plan is nothing more than an exercise in dreaming. Start with your goals and then formulate your annual plan to drive your business toward those goals.
Next up…why you shouldn’t have a plan.