Without a plan, together with specific, actionable steps that are broken down into small, time-bound, measureable steps – you are unlikely to succeed.
For starters, two questions need to be asked: Where are you now? Where do you want be at the end of 2017? Be specific in your answers. The responses to these questions will serve as the basis for the plan. They will also form guidelines for management. The business planning process must include aspects such as time frame and the identification of critical tasks. Planning will asssit in resource allocation too. Keep the following in mind:
Review of Current Situation
The first step is to assess the current state of the business. Business owners must identify where the business is doing well and where it needs to improve. Aspects that need to be considered include: revenue, targets, productivity, goals and demands. You need to know how your business is faring in the marketplace, relative to your competitors. Once this is established, implementing strategies for the year ahead should be an easier process. Use a simple SWOT analysis for this exercise.
Industry and Competitor Review
Knowing what your competitors are doing is important. This information might not seem important in the planning process, but this information can be used to ascertain your strengths and weaknesses. It can also help businesses establish their services, products, procedures and competitive advantage. Some businesses believe that offering lower prices is the best strategy, but bear in mind that this system only works for certain businesses. Better customer service or value can go a long way.
Defining the Opportunity
Before a business can launch a product or offer a new service, establishing the needs of a customer must take priority to ensure that you fully understand the customer and what it is that they are looking for. This will give your company, service or product the upper hand.
Devising Marketing Strategies
Devising a marketing strategy will help your business in a number of ways. A marketing strategy helps businesses in identifying their target audience. Knowing your target audience is vital. The marketing strategy must also include elements such as specific targets, goals and plans – and don’t forget to allocate responsibility. Don’t be vague, if you’re going to introduce mailers, your plan must include a detailed analysis of the benefits of sending mailers. The plan must include the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy, the frequency of the activity within the strategy, as well as measuring the results of the campaign.
The business planning process must include a budget. A budget acts as a guide for businesses, with a budget, expenditures and costs can be spelt out in detail. But it’s wise to keep the economy in mind; the value of the rand has a direct effect on the bottom line.
On a monthly basis, review your actual results against the budget and set your targets for the next month. This way you allow yourself and your team to be driven to achieve a goal/target, otherwise it is too easy to become complacent and accepting the performance of the company as it is now or as it was last year – leaving no challenge to grow or improve the business.