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Annual planning: If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you get there?

Posted by Grace Townsley

November 30, 2021    |     4-minute read (692 words)

As the end of the year quickly approaches, how prepared are you for 2022? You’ve probably taken time to plan your finances and prepare your year-end taxes, but what about small business planning? 

Annual planning looks different from business to business, but the idea is that you’ll never reach a goal you don’t set. The exercise itself of taking a close critical look at your business, seeing where you have opportunities to grow and evaluating what needs to change helps to reveal new insights you might be overlooking. 

No matter how small your business, whether you have 100 employees or a team of one, annual planning is important. Some business experts say planning is even more important for microbusinesses, those with fewer than five employees, because the smallest misstep or distraction can completely derail it. 

Before 2021 comes to a close, take a bit of time to think through these questions about different areas of your small business. You might be surprised at what you discover when you hold the magnifying glass up to your business.

Goals

If you already have recorded goals for your business, revisit them. How are you progressing towards them? What new goals would you like to reach in 2022? 

You may find that the previous goals you set for your business were too conservative. Or you may need to make a change to get back on track. If you didn’t reach the goals you set for your business at the end of last year, consider what roadblocks slowed you down and how you can avoid them in 2022. 

Timeline

What big milestones are coming up next year? Any big events, product launches or major changes looming? 

It’s easy to let big moments sneak up on you. When we’re caught up in day-to-day operations, tending to the urgent, we can neglect thinking ahead toward the milestones. Now is a good time to mark these down in your 2022 calendar. While you’re at it, give yourself a 30-day or 90-day reminder ahead of the event so it’s on your radar early. 

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats surrounding your business. If you truly take the time to use this tool, a SWOT analysis can save your business. For example, your SWOT analysis may reveal a new competitor starting to close in on your territory. If you act now to proactively expand your advertising in that area or to improve existing customer loyalty, you’ve dodged what could have been a significant market loss. But you can only protect yourself from the threats you recognize. That’s why taking the time to complete a thorough SWOT analysis can be so powerful.  

Marketing

How effective was your marketing plan this year? How much did you spend and how much did you earn back on your marketing? Do you have the tools in place to track and analyze that data? Are there areas of marketing opportunity you can invest in next year?

If you don’t know exactly how effective your marketing is or how to understand your analytics, you’ll want to find a few easy-to-use tools to start tracking that ROI. You may be wasting money on a strategy that isn’t really working or underutilizing one that is.

People-planning

Finally, your 2022 planning should include thinking about the people in your business. Do your employees seem satisfied in their roles? Are there opportunities for professional development you can give them? Do you need to make any hiring decisions in 2022? 

In a year when an unprecedented number of people changed jobs, people-planning has never been so important. Taking time to consider how you can make work a better, more fulfilling place can help you keep your best team members around.

Annual planning can be daunting. But if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you get there — or when you’re lost. Take some time this quarter to sit down, think through these topics, and make a plan for success next year. You’ll be glad you did! 

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