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It’s soon that time when we all tend to have a retrospective spirit about our successes and challenges over the past last year. But what about business planning? The thoughts of sitting down to create new goals and objectives for the upcoming months are usually far from the minds of many business owners. Perhaps some of these ideas and best practices might make it worthwhile to consider over a hot cup of coffee or tea.

During many coaching sessions, I have learned that the act of writing it down or keying it into a laptop, puts our thoughts to action within the subconscious part of our brains. If we clearly know our targets and tasks, our actions tend to follow. A good friend and colleague used to say to me, “If you don’t have a goal you’re sure to hit it”. Getting your thoughts, ideas and targets on paper, formulated on your computer or detailed on your tablet, is a good step to success.

Looking in the rear view mirror at our accomplishments and challenges that we faced last year will help set the key objectives we want to meet in the upcoming year. We never want to stare backwards too long, but a quick glance to see where we were helps us to know where we want to be.

It’s a best practice to set up realistic goals that are both reasonable and obtainable. Setting them too high can be discouraging and ultimately ignored as we measure ourselves against them. Conversely placing them too low is certainly not advisable as most of us need a bit of a challenge. The trick is to find the balance. Iin most cases simply taking last year’s numbers and objectives and adding a reasonable percentage of increase or change will be suffice.

I would recommend that planning areas should start with last year’s review and then move into high level objectives for the new year. Work your way systematically into the finer details and timelines not forgetting important areas such as customer service and current marketing and sales tools.

From my experience, it’s always good to acquire an outside perspective on most issues in life as they see things as a third-party and they are not so close to the topics near and dear to our hearts. Perhaps this same principle could also be true when redefining our marketing and sales targets for the upcoming year.

When considering a new business, here is some starter advice to consider. Start with the thousand foot view and look at what you want to achieve or a problem you are solving for your customers or clients. Work backwards, breaking down the first year into monthly and weekly tasks by identifying targets and challenges. Always set realistic targets with specific dates to ensure you don’t get discouraged but not so low to not challenge you. This is also where you must set budgets for expenses, employees, marketing and other business costs.

Keep your plans simple, but make sure you detail how to make your money, start or expand your business, reduce expenses and improve your marketing.

Best Wishes and Happy New

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