Entering a new year of business allows for so much opportunity to reset and reflect on what we want to achieve. Taking the time before the year begins (or right at the start in January) gives us an opportunity to prep and plan for what we want the year ahead to look like for our business.
While we often think of business planning as in-depth spreadsheets, financial projections, and sprints — it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Oftentimes, what we really need more than anything is a mental reset and some clarity on what we are trying to achieve in our businesses in this new year.
So use the following five phases to prepare for the year ahead and get started on your best foot!
Step 1: Reflect
While this year may not be one we want to remember in detail, it’s important to take note of the things that worked and didn’t work in your business. This helps us avoid making the same mistakes twice — and allows us to replicate the things that work! If you’ve already been doing this throughout the year, try to compile all those notes into one place so you can see them all together.
Then, determine how the past year went. Think through questions like:
- Where did your focus shift and change? Why?
- What goals did you accomplish? What goals did you not accomplish? Can you pinpoint why or why not?
- Where was the bulk of your time and energy spent, and was it spent on the most important things? How much of your time was spent on things that were not important and/or not urgent?
- What were your biggest accomplishments this year? What things had the biggest positive impact on you and your business?
- What were your biggest challenges? How could you better prepare for them in the future?
Take note of the highs and lows so you have a better understanding of what to take into the new year of your business — and what to leave behind.
Step 2: Declutter
Just like you clean out your closet in the spring and winter to make room for a new season of clothing, you should declutter your business, too! Take a moment to think through the things you can shed or re-evaluate from your business to make space for the new things that are in store for you.
This is an often skipped step, but it’s one of the most important. Not taking the time to remove unnecessary tasks and projects within your business will only make you more stressed when new things inevitably pop up. Removing things now give you the space you need to accept new opportunities as they arise.
Ask yourself things like:
- What tasks suck your time and energy? How can you create better boundaries from them?
- How can you streamline your processes to remove repetitive or unnecessary steps?
- What tasks can you eliminate completely or outsource to someone else to free up more space for you to focus on things that impact the bottom line and keep you within your zone of genius?
- Can you scale back any of your marketing or sales efforts to focus on your most targeted, engaged audience?
- How can you create more space in your day for personal or strategizing time? Can you block of an entire day, or maybe a half day solely to do things that fill your cup?
Step 3: Envision
Now that you’ve reflected and declutters, you are probably ready to jump into the logistics of yearly planning. But before doing that, there is one last step! Take some time (a few minutes or a few days, whatever feels best for you) to really sit with yourself. Picture what the year ahead could look like for you. Just sit and visualize it for awhile, or journal it out.
The goal here is to try and get into the headspace you had when you first started your business; when the sky was the limit. What were your biggest dreams? What were you aiming for? Have those goals changed, or have you gone off track? Take this time to ensure you are still moving in a direction that you are excited and passionate about, not just the one you’ve gotten comfortable with.
Consider things like:
- What would a successful year ahead look like to you? How about an enjoyable one? Do those two answers differ?
- How can you make time for both the things that grow your business AND the things that bring you joy and fulfillment?
- Can you reconnect with the pieces of your business that you love and that made you want to start this journey in the first place?
Step 4: Plan It Out
Alright, now that you have a strong picture in your head, let’s move onto the logistics. Start by loosely blocking out your year based on your big picture goals and milestones. This could be things like your services, new launches, investments you want to make, exciting things you want to achieve, etc.
To start mapping these out, think through:
- What steps do you need to take to bring your business to the nest level?
- What processes need to be in place before you can take those steps?
- What do you want to focus on vs. what can you rely on someone else to manage?
- How can you prepare to make important and necessary investments?
- What can you start doing now to prime your audience for new offers?
Planning your year can be done in a variety of ways, so do whatever makes the most sense for you. Maybe you want to plan out your quarters or months loosely — or maybe you want to break it down into week-by-week sprints. Do whatever feels best for you, and give yourself some space for new opportunities or unexpected things to pop up.
Step 5: Set Goals
Lastly, now that you have your loose plan in place, it’s time to set goals! Specific, actionable metrics will help keep you on track toward your goals and plans. It’s important to have these set at the beginning of the year and to keep these as tangible and in your control as possible. And they don’t all have to be business related, either. “Take a two-week vacation to Hawaii in April” totally counts as a goal, too.
And even better: it’s OK to have some stretch goals. Allow yourself the space to dream big. What would your wildest goals for your business be this year? Write them down and believe you can hit them. And you may just exceed them.
To help you set goals, think through these questions:
- What metrics will tell you whether or not you are on track to reach your goals? How often should you check in on them?
- What steps do you need to complete to reach every milestone? About how long should these steps take?
- What doors will hitting these goals open for you? For example, if you book a certain number of clients this quarter, will you finally make that new hire? If you sell out your product launch, will you finally buy that course you’ve been eyeing?
Setting goals also means setting celebrations for when you achieve them! So don’t forget to add those in, too!
Is a new brand or website in your plans for next year?
If you’re ready to take the next step with custom strategy, branding, or website design, then you’ve come to the right place. Find out how we can work together here.