We start each new year with a sense of purpose and renewed optimism that all is possible. It’s in that spirit that we sign up for gym memberships, Pilates, yoga, boot camp and make our resolutions for a better life. Likely the enthusiasm for the new year has already faded as the holiday celebrations settle into fond memories.

Now is the perfect time to step back and reflect on your business and make the resolutions that will stick and propel you to success this year and beyond.
The questions to ask are easy.........the answers, on the other hand, will require a bit of work but are well worth the investment to get you on the right track.

First: Where are we?
Just like setting your course on Google Maps, you need to know where you are in order to plot your path to where you are going. Start with a realistic assessment of the health of your business. The most meaningful way to approach this assessment is by developing or updating your Business Plan. A Basic Business Plan documents the market, your offerings, ideal customers, competition, marketing approach and a financial summary which includes a P&L and income and expense trends and projections.

Second: Where are we going?
It’s the “vision thing” so well said by George H. W. Bush. You need a clear Vision of where you are going an supporting goals need to be set and met. To start, visualize what your successful business will look like 1 year from now. What will change in your business and what will change in the marketplace? Will there be new team members? Will there be new competition that will require you to change how you operate? Will you add that new capability that has been in the works for some time? Of course write it down.

At this point add some specific and realistic goals that can be accomplished in the next year. Put special focus on the next 90 days and the critical actions that need to be taken. Remember to review your “in flight” projects to be sure that they make sense and are support your goals.

Now that you have some practice at objective setting, repeat the exercise with a 5 year horizon. You will need a quiet place and some time to think through this. Talk to your customers, team, family or have lunch with a trusted adviser. Consider successful businesses which you can model but don’t be constrained by what others have done. Your vision should be true to your culture, brand and what makes you unique. Where do you go from here to maximize your customer value, income and FUN!

There is a lot of room between 1 year and 5 years. Bridge the gap with realistic interim goals that set up your success. Establish criteria and performance indicators to track your progress and sound the alarm if you get off track.

Third: Do we have a plan to get there?
Focus first on your 90 day objectives. What are the priorities and what are the actions that need to be taken to achieve them? Break down the work into chunkable (technical term) pieces that you can get your mind around. Put in some details and schedule the tasks. Detail the required time, money and resources and be sure they are in place. Voila, this is your tactical plan.

Step and repeat for your 1 year, interim and 5 year goals. You will find that things get murkier as you go out in time. That’s perfectly natural and that gives you the perfect reason to review your plan annually............or more often if you are in a volatile business environment.

Documenting your goals, objectives and plan is fundamental. However, the most important thing is to keep the document close by so that you can refer to it often............and update it as you learn more and refine your vision. Time passes, things change. Share it with your team and solicit and accept their input. Their input will improve your plan and team engagement as they understand and buy in to your vision and accept ownership in the plan.

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