When it comes to planning, most business owners are not short on ideas for growing sales and profit. They set goals and identify what they need to do to get there. As you put the finishing touches on your action plan, avoid the tendency to make everything a priority that must be done in the first quarter.
You only have so many resources – people, time and money. You still have a business to run and customers to serve. Be realistic about what you and your team can accomplish each month and quarter. Set priorities. What comes first, second and so forth.
4 Ways To Set The Priorities in Your Plan
What is the #1 challenge you face today in your business? Is it getting new customers, getting more from the ones you already have, making more profit from your current sales, delivering consistent service to customers, having the right people or getting more from them? Choose at least one or two that address your biggest challenge and work on them first.
How much work and other resources are required to complete the tasks or projects you identified in your plan. The more complex, the fewer you can reasonably handle in a short period of time.
With large, complex projects break down the tasks and spread them out over a few months. This allows you to make progress without getting overwhelmed, putting them off or ignoring other areas in your business. For example, a new website or how-to (procedures) manual will take more than a month. A marketing campaign or customer feedback survey can be done within 30 days.
Sometimes there are things you must do first because they are tied to the success of something you want or need to do in the future. Here are a few examples.
- If you plan to use social media, email or other online strategies but don’t have a website (or your current one needs updating), then the website should be done first to get the most bang from your other efforts.
- If you get a lot of leads but struggle with converting them to paying customers, you might want to focus on ways to improve your sales conversion rates before you invest in new lead generation or marketing.
Time versus Money.
In a perfect world, we seek balance. But if money is tight, then focus initially on things that are low or no cost to help you build more revenue, profit, and cash flow. Then invest in strategies that require additional financial resources.
One caution as you set the priorities in your plan. Don’t prioritize based on what you like or what is easy. Putting off what is important for what is easy is just another form of procrastination. Focus on what will get you results – more sales, profit, control or freedom.
Are you looking for ideas or assistance with setting priorities for next year? My Business Success Checklist can help. Click here for the free download and see how you measure up.
If setting goals and creating an action plan are holding you back, my Ultimate Goal and Action Plan Guide can help you create your own roadmap. My step-by-step method includes tools, templates, and samples to make it easy for small business owners. Click here to learn more.