2014 Business Planning – 6 Things You Should Be Doing Now!

 We’re a few weeks into the 4th quarter and I thought it might be helpful to talk about those things your organization can be doing now to plan and prepare for 2014.  I am a firm believer in the old saying “If you fail to plan – you plan to fail”.

There are no truer words in business as sustained growth rests on an organization’s ability to plan and budget toward the vision. Now is a great time to be meeting with your leadership team and discussing the vision and strategy for 2014.

So what 6 things should you be discussing?

1. Business Strategy

It is no secret that the economic and competitive business climate changes rapidly and keeping up with those changes is challenging at best.  Every organization should invest the time to strategize and plan for the predictable as well as the unpredictable business changes.  For example, try to figure out what stands in the way of where you are as compared to where you see your organization going and map out a plan to get there.  Do a SWOT analysis and think about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and how you can strategically address your weaknesses and threats and build on your strengths and new opportunities.

Running a business is very much like playing a chess game; you have to anticipate the moves of others so you can make the right moves and ultimately win the game – its all about strategy!

2.  2014 Business Goals

The economic climate makes it even more important than ever to stop and take the time to plan and strategize.  No matter the size, every organization should take the time to strategize and write goals.  Well thought out and written business goals provide the road-map for organizational success.

Written goals that are incorporated into a structured performance management process are how organizations get things done and move to the next level.

3.  Budgeting

Many organizations are struggling with decreased revenues, increased costs and an unpredictable business climate.  For this reason, developing a budgeting process that supports the vision of the organization is critical to sustained growth.  Honing in on spending and investing resources into those things that affect the customer experience should be the goal.

It is important to stop and think about those large ticket items that are likely to hit your organization in the next year and put a plan and budget in place to meet them.  For example, if your employees are working with outdated equipment that is beginning to affect the customer experience, now is the time to map out a plan to get that equipment replaced.  An example of this could be anything from outdated software, hardware or aging production equipment.  Regardless, being proactive can eliminate a customer service nightmare down the road.

4.  Customer Focus

We all know that without customers there is no business so it is important to incorporate customer needs and expectations into business planning and strategy.  Develop a customer service strategy and spend time talking to customers or soliciting customer satisfaction data so your organization can offer products and services that not only meet but exceed customer requirements.  The goal is to make it a “wow” experience so they not only come back but tell others about you.  The wow is the secret sauce to business success.

5.  Employee Involvement

The 4th quarter is also a great time to look at your employee census, review and modify job descriptions, update employee expectations and develop 2014 employee goals based on organizational strategy and business goals.  Talking to employees and continually looking for ways to keep them engaged is time and money well spent.  Without customers there is no business and satisfied customers are dependent on great employees who are engaged with the organization.  Your employees take care of the customers so be sure to take care of them!

6.  Emergency Preparedness

The climate of our planet has changed as evident by the extraordinary weather patterns this past year.  The 4th quarter is also a great time to review your emergency preparedness plan and ensure your organization is prepared should something unexpected hit your business.  Knowing what to do and how to respond in the event of a disaster is good business management.

The  challenging business climate is forcing business owners, executives and entrepreneurs more than ever to think about what they are doing and how they can sustain and grow their organization.  There are no secret formulas but good planning coupled with strong performance management and fiscal responsibility is a great way to start the new year.

Have you mapped out a plan for 2014 yet.

photo by:  PlanUK

Article originally published September 2012, updated November 2013.