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December 2, 2016
Planning & Strategy  |  5 min read

5 Things You Must Read: The Annual Strategic Planning Edition

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Ben Snedeker

So, we’re in the throes of holiday madness. It’s crazy right now. And even if you’re not in retail, your business still has a lot going on: end of the year sales goals, holiday vacations, year-end vendor accounting, insurance coverage and enrollment, to list a few. You name it. The list goes on and on, and you’re run ragged. 

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In the midst of all that end-of-the-year wrap-up, there’s another, looming concern: what’s up for next year? Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t prioritize the time and energy needed for annual planning, and they start January without a strategy in place for the coming year. Without specific goals, and without milestones to measure progress, there’s no way to ensure you stay on track to grow your business.

We’ve rounded up five great articles from around the web to help get you thinking about how you can set your business on course to achieve the success you want.

Time to Grow Up? Taking Your Business to the Next Level (via @BNDarticles)

According to American Express’ survey of 1,000 small businesses with revenues over $250k, as cited in the article: “While 65 percent of those surveyed have a formal plan for growth, they said they don't necessarily think it will be easy to accomplish: About half of business owners cite generating ideas for growth as one of their biggest worries. Another 36 percent said cash-flow issues keep them awake at night.” 

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So. The biggest hurdle for small business growth boils down to: “How do we actually grow?” and “How do we pay for it?” Not terribly surprising. But this article talks to real small business owners who’ve answered this question, and their insights are inspiring.

Visualizing Success: How To Set Up Effective Quarterly Goals (via @businessdotcom

The best way to meet your goals is to state them clearly, and then chunk up your year into manageable portions with milestones to help you stay on track with your larger objectives. That way you can tackle small increments, pivoting when necessary. Quarterly goals are the most common because they allow room to achieve the goals, but are small enough to allow you to reset your course midyear if you run up against unforeseen challenges.

How to Align HR & Business Goals in 5 Steps (via @Zenefits)

One of the toughest hats to wear for small business owners is that of HR manager. If HR isn’t your forte, HR can often be the afterthought when you’re thinking big, strategizing your five-year planning, or even when you consider the annual planning process. This handy post shows how you can keep HR in mind as you develop your goals and set your course for the future. 

2017 Strategic Planning Kit - Download Now

3 Steps for Aligning Your Organizational Goals (via @Entrepreneur

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This article points out a slightly disturbing fact: “In September 2015, Achievers released The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement report with some startling finds: The majority—more than 60 percent—of the 397 employees surveyed said they didn’t know their company’s mission, vision, or values.” Don’t let this happen to you. Make certain that your employee goals can clearly support your organizational goals.

The Art Of The Pivot: 5 Strategies For Adjusting Your Business Plan (via @Forbes)

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As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Of course, you can’t adopt a defeatist attitude. Instead, you need to remain agile in the daily execution of your strategy, pivoting when necessary for the good of your business. This article can help you think through some strategies for making adjustments that will keep you competitive will remaining on an overall trajectory of growth.


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