By NAWBO partner Cultivate Advisors
It’s hard to believe that it’s been years since COVID-19 emerged. Although the world has adjusted to a new normal, the effects are still impacting business operations around the globe. While the pandemic introduced new obstacles for companies of all shapes and sizes, there are ways to take lessons learned in 2020 and incorporate them into a strategic business plan for 2023 and beyond. With this in mind, we’re outlining seven steps you can use to start planning for success this year and for years to come.
Ideas for Business Goals in 2023
Think of your business plan as your compass. It helps companies evaluate where they are and still need to go. One way to think of your business goals is by taking your company vision and putting it onto paper. It’s too common to set goals for business growth at the beginning of the year and lose sight of them over time. Rather than setting annual goals, consider a goal-setting process that keeps you and your team on the right path forward.
Step 1: Look at Your Vision and Long-Term Goals
The first step in any strategic plan involves looking at your business’s long-term vision and goals. By taking the time to analyze your vision, you allow yourself to step back and identify how your business needs to shift over time to hit your goals versus looking for short-term solutions.
It’s important to remember where you’re heading and why. Your vision should act as your north star. When you’re setting goals, they should be in pursuit of that end destination. If you don’t already have a clear vision or feel yours is outdated, it might be time to take another look.
Step 2: Perform SWOT Analysis
A SWOT analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This is a tactic that businesses use to help reveal blind spots that business owners or employees might not see on a day-to-day basis. Performing a SWOT analysis helps your company slow down and ask probing questions that unveil essential information about your company and where it wants it to go. It is the easiest way to self-evaluate your business both internally and externally.
The strengths and weaknesses of a SWOT analysis are considered to be internal, while opportunities and threats are considered to be internal. What does your company do well, and where can you make improvements? Opportunities and threats are even more important in today’s marketplace as companies are evolving and innovating faster than ever. Rather than trying to put out fires as your competitors make positive steps forward, a SWOT analysis allows you to act as a firefighter ready for battle. As a best practice, strive to complete a thorough SWOT analysis at least once per quarter to keep yourself accountable and aligned with your goals.
Step 3: Set Your Macro Goals
What do you need to accomplish this year to achieve your vision? Identify three to four overarching goals for your business. For example, do you want to launch a new product or service? Do you want to recruit 20 new people? Write down three to four things you need to accomplish to achieve your long-term vision.
When setting your goals, remember to choose SMART goals (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) that are measurable and easy to track. For example, a goal to “Increase sales by 10% in the next two months” is easier to measure than “increase revenue”.
Step 4: Identify the KPIs You’ll Use to Track the Success
Now that you’ve created your business goals, it’s time to shift your attention to monitoring your progress and defining your deadlines. In addition to setting SMART goals, you should establish clear dates and milestones by which you want to achieve your goals. And to ensure you’re on track, you need to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will use to track the success of your goals. Metrics are an excellent way to measure progress over time and understand what is working in your business and why. When it comes to KPIs and businesses, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Each business is unique in its goals and should use its business plan as a starting point to determine KPIs.
Let’s say you have a goal of reaching $100,000 in revenue in the next year. Conduct a brief “sniff test” to see if this is an attainable goal. Did you only make $10,000 last year? It might not be attainable to set this new KPI, and you could be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, consider establishing more attainable KPIs based on previous business performance that aligns with your personal goals and vision. Once you have your KPIs set, they act as a source of motivation to help you meet your larger business goals.
Step 5: Prioritize Initiatives
Once you have three to four big rock items and you know how you plan to measure their success, brainstorm five to six strategic initiatives you can use to achieve those goals. Once you’ve identified five to six for each goal, you need to prioritize. Consider your resources and prioritize each initiative accordingly. Remember, over a year, the best teams will accomplish four initiatives per goal; depending on the size of your team, you might be able to accomplish more, but as a rule of thumb, four initiatives per goal is an excellent place to start.
Step 6: Build Your Strategy to Implement Each Initiative
Now that you have your goals and objectives and you know what you are working toward (your vision), it’s time to identify the strategy and plan on how you will implement these initiatives. It’s best to break it down to a weekly schedule that you can revisit throughout the year to ensure you stay on track.
Here is an example of how you can break down your goals to hit a yearly revenue goal. For argument’s sake, let’s say you have a 3-year vision of hitting $10M in revenue; how much do you need to make this year to be on track for that goal?
Year 1 – $5 M
Year 2 – $ 7.5 M
Year 3 – $10 M
Once you have those numbers, let’s break it down further. What do you need to make next year to make it happen? What do you need to get there on a monthly, weekly and daily basis? The most common metrics to break down are leads for marketing, sales transactions and conversions, as well as the people and resources needed to achieve your revenue goal. This micro breakdown is where the magic starts to happen as you realize what will break or what needs to shift in the business to get to that level.
Step 7: Hold Yourself Accountable
The accountability factor of your business plan needs to come into play as soon as you establish your goals. When you set a target to hit, what will the ramifications be if you don’t hit them? Although business owners are all unique in their approach to goal setting, it’s always important to consider what happens if you don’t hit your agreed-upon KPI. It’s tempting for business owners to get bogged down in the day-to-day activities of their companies, but this approach doesn’t hold them accountable for the bigger picture. As a best practice, business owners should spend a minimum of 2-5 hours per week thinking about what is going well and how they can improve.
Get the Plan, Partner and Process to Confidently Grow Your Business
Developing a plan for your business is the best way to break your goals into digestible, achievable actions to keep your business on track. Apply this framework to your company and see how much simpler your big audacious goals feel.
WATCH THIS VIDEO ON BUSINESS PLANNING FOR MORE USEFUL TIPS