5 Simple Steps to Start the Year Off with a Bang
Here are five simple steps to create a powerful company plan to focus your year and accelerate your company’s growth.
Are you ready to start 2018 off strong with your company? Here is a simple five step process to create a powerful plan to grow your company.
Step One: Review your victories and key lessons from the prior year.
Growing your company takes effort and work, and noticing and celebrating the progress you’ve made is one form of fuel that keeps you and your team inspired and producing at your best. That’s why the first step of planning out your year is to do a quick review of the progress you’ve made over the prior 12 months.
What were your accomplishments? What progress has your company made?
For example, one company we coach increased its pre-tax profit by more than $650,000. Another owner of an outdoor advertising company had been taking calls at 4 a.m. in morning to answer questions for his two field crews. His victory was successfully training his staff and building the internal systems so his crews could do their work without the 4 a.m. calls.
Now that you’ve articulated your company’s biggest victories, determine your company’s two or three most valuable lessons learned in last 12 months, including how you’ll apply those lessons to improve your company in the future. Don’t settle for cliché answers such as “people matter” or “be more careful whom you hire.” Instead, decide what you will specifically do going forward. For example, in being careful who you hire, you might create an ideal candidate profile or invest a few hundred dollars in personality testing to improve your hiring choices. Also, resolve to take extra time to clarify your own role so you’ll make a solid selection.
Step Two: Gather the facts and objectively evaluate your company’s performance over the past year.
What targets did you set a year ago and where did the company end up in relation to them? What were your targets for sales and gross profit? What did you target for pretax operating costs? Number of new customers? Etc.
What insights pop out based on these data points? You might have set the goal of hiring two people, which you did, but while two came on board, one left. That’s why it’s important to lay out all the facts. They are the raw materials from which you’ll build your action plan for the coming year.
Step Three: Conduct a “Gap Analysis”.
What is the company you are trying to build over the next 3-5 years. What will be the gross revenue? Gross profit? New locations? Number of total clients? Etc. These represent quantitative measures.
Also consider qualitative measures–your company’s brand, reputation in marketplace, quality of your teams and more.
Finally, as you look ahead 3-5 years, define what role you want to be playing for your company.
Now line up where you stand today relative to these future goals and objectives — quantitative, qualitative, and your role.
Once you’ve identified “the gap” based on various measures, then plan how you’ll shrink that gap as a company. This will get built into your company plan for the year.
Step Four: Determine your #1 limiting factor to growth.
Naturally following from the gap analysis is addressing your company’s number one limiting factor to growth. What slows you down from effectively closing the gap? Does your marketing team need to generate more leads? Do you have an operations challenge? A staffing challenge? Brainstorm the answer to this question: What one ingredient, if you only had more of, would do the most to help your company grow?
Your #1 limiting factor is a key leverage point to focus on with your plan. Try out conducting a “Sweet Spot” analysis to push this limiting factor back and grow your company fast.
Step Five: Create a one-page action plan for the next 90 days.
Your challenge is to turn these four areas into a one-page action plan that will guide your company. If you’ve been active with us over the years, you know we’ve been adamant about creating a one-page 90-day plan of action every quarter. It’s one global way to take in the whole plan in one view.
Your action plan answers these questions: What are the most important two or three focus areas for your company over the next 90 days? What are the stated criteria for success in these areas? What are the five or six milestones that will lead to that success? Of course, your plan isn’t complete until you detail who owns each step and by when.
By following all five of these steps you’ll start the year off focused on those fewer things that will make a dramatic difference to help you grow and succeed.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.