Te Chen is the Chief Revenue Officer at Hourlyan insurtech workers compensation/payroll startup for hourly SMBs.
Got big family travel plans for the new year? Maybe go to Hawaii or Europe?
I bet if you do, you will also spend a lot of time planning and preparing for this trip. You know the drill: you have to research your destination, create a budget, make reservations, come up with a plan B if something goes wrong, and all that.
So why not do the same amount of planning for your business?
Now maybe you do, and if that’s true, fine, but you’re in the minority. The bad news is that most business people seem to spend more time planning their vacation than they do during the business year. And that is very bad. This is a mistake.
Entering this new year, consider planning your business year as you would your vacation.
Where do you want to go and why?
You would never get in your car, put a bag on your head and drive away, would you? Of course not. If you did that, you’d never know where you were headed or even in what direction, how much fuel you had, if there were any danger signals ahead – nothing.
But that’s what you do, in life or in business, if you don’t know where you want to be by the end of the year and why you want to get there. This means you need to know exactly where you’re going – that is, what your specific destination or goal is.
So, just like with your vacation, you need to think clearly about where you want your business to go. And just like on vacation, you have several options to choose from.
What is yours key destination? Maybe you want to open a second location, or maybe you want to increase your online revenue by 25% by the end of the year.
Once you know your key business destination, the other important question is ‘why’. Why do you want your business to get to this place? Among all goals, but especially for business goals, the “why” serves as an emotional anchor—why Are you looking to expand your online business or open a second location? Knowing and communicating that gives your team focus, context and direction.
The idea is to think about what a successful “journey” in 2023 would look like for your business. Whatever it is, this goal should become the North Star of this planning process.
What are your resources?
Deciding where you want to go will create a domino effect of other things to consider and decide. Whatever your end goal or destination is, you’ll need to break it down into manageable chunks and understand not only the budget, but also what other resources (technology, people, etc.) will be needed to achieve the goal.
Again, just keep your vacation planning in mind while doing this. Knowing how much you want to spend on airfare, hotel rooms, and entertainment helps you understand the scope of your trip. That’s all you do here for your business.
Figure out your route.
What steps must be involved to get from point A to point B?
If your understanding seems difficult, just break it down. Maybe this trip to Thailand is not a direct flight. Maybe you should fly to Tokyo first, then to Bangkok, and then take a train to Chiang Mai.
Same thing here. By breaking down your biggest goal into smaller intermediate steps and what you need to do to achieve them, you can get a much better handle on what needs to happen and when.
In business, this is often called SMART goal setting. SMART stands for:
• Based on time.
Setting SMART goals is, well, smart because they help you focus your efforts in a very practical way. In the case of planning your business year, SMART goals can help you break the “journey” down into actionable steps.
What is the time frame for achieving your key goal? What resources do you need to get there? What does your team need to know and do to get there? Will they need additional training or will you need to hire new people?
The important thing at this point is to break your big goal down into actionable steps.
Plan your activities (but be flexible!).
As you plan the steps you will take in the coming year to achieve your main strategic goal, consider that no journey goes exactly as planned – and anyway, even if it did, it would be boring!
So yes, map out how you’d ideally like to see things, what checkpoints and highlights you’d expect to see along the way, and when you’d likely reach those waypoints.
But while doing so, remember to be flexible. Things won’t go exactly as planned, and that’s okay. The question is, what will you do when things don’t go as expected? For example, when the hotel loses your reservation?
Have a plan B.
No, you don’t know what you don’t know, but having an emergency plan and maybe an emergency fund is smart. No one could predict a once-in-a-hundred-year pandemic, but you can be sure that those small businesses that saved for a rainy day and that learned how to try new things and navigate themselves were better off. position to weather this storm.
So, just like your family trip, plan for the best, expect the best and just know that when something goes wrong, you’ll have a great story to tell –if don’t let it derail your bigger plans.
And in any case, it’s certainly better than having no plan and no story about that great business trip you could be taking.
The Forbes Business Development Council is an invitation-only community for sales executives and business developers. do i qualify?