50 Days to Christmas

Planning, Retreat, Strategy • November 6, 2023

In fact, it was 49 days to Christmas today. It was 50 days yesterday when I originally wrote this piece. The end of the year is rapidly approaching us. Which means it is time for planning. And whilst I am talking about your enterprise, I am not referring to the type of business plan one would present to an investor (or one’s spouse) with hopes of procuring funding for a prominent idea (or permission to spend joint savings in the case of one’s spouse). The planning I am referring to in this post involves aspects of goal setting and introspection.

Esteemed change expert Margit Takacs recently posted an intriguing piece on ‘backward imaging.’ I will include a link below. In it, she discusses an effectual change management technique wherein one initiates with the intended result, and then meticulously works backwards, covering every step required to attain the desired outcome.

In the business planning component of my business retreat in January, we utilise simulations to help establish goals for the following year. First though, we analyse the year just passed. And build upon those successes. What distinguishes the Business Leader Retreat is that we undertake the sometimes painful work of determining why less-than-ideal events transpired. And then we mitigate against such things reoccurring next year by planning for them in advance. As they say, fool me once.

I must say I am rather fond of this time of year. There exists an air of rejuvenation and excitement. Perhaps it is just the pretty decorations and cheerful children on holiday. Or a sense of relief that we have all made it through another year. The new year brings this sentiment of reinvigoration and fresh starts for enterprises. If you are a business proprietor, this is the perfect time to step back and contemplate where you want your company to progress in the subsequent 12 months.

Here are some planning tips to establish your small enterprise for success in 2024:

First, determine what success resembles for you. Working with my clients, they are sometimes surprised to discover that this is not always just achieving those revenue targets. In our planning, we develop a strategy where generating revenue is on equal footing with health and family. We even have a realistic plan to have you taking a day off, most weeks. Using backward planning, initiate with the intended result in mind – where do you want your enterprise to be at the end of 2023? Dream considerably, but take care not to make your dream lopsided. We are searching for balance here. This lucidity will assist in guiding your planning. You can read Margit Takacs post on Backward Imaging here.

Then, break your vision down into tangible, quantifiable goals across key areas, like sales & marketing (they are different, even in a small enterprise,) and the soft skills you think aren’t worth pursuing? That’s where the gold lies. It’s not just about operations or the size of your team. Elaborate your roadmap to hit each target every month. Adjust and repeat. Every month. Remember to focus on the vital few goals that will drive outcomes, adhering to the old 20/80 principle.

Of course, the advantage entrepreneurs and start-ups have is being able to remain nimble and swift. Regularly re-examine progress and recalibrate as necessary – the landscape will shift so your plans should be able to also. Establish milestones to track performance. 

And don’t forget to budget! Allocate resources to support your most critical initiatives. Invest judiciously where it matters most to propel your goals. Yes, I am referring to those soft skills here again.

There is much more to discuss of course. But it is time to start contemplating what you want out of 2024. And then figure out how to go get it! What goals are you establishing for your enterprise (and yourself) in 2024?

Let’s connect and share ideas!

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