With so many artificial intelligence tools available, strategic business planning for your small business is more fun than ever before. As fall descends, businesses are wrapping up Q3 and finalizing their year-end strategies. Now’s the perfect time to reflect on past achievements and prepare for the upcoming year.
Why Strategic Planning for Entrepreneurs is Essential
Attending a strategic business planning workshop can be a game-changer, offering insights and clear goal-setting for the year ahead. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, setting a plan focuses your energy on fulfilling activities, resource management, prioritizing projects, and outpacing potential threats like competitors or unforeseen economic factors. If you can manage it, get to a business planning workshop in the next 30 days so you can start thinking strategically about your business for the year ahead. For those who can’t find a group to guide them through, I want to offer some tools for conducting your own small business strategic planning workshop (for yourself). Goal setting for business can feel daunting, it can be broken down into smaller steps to make it more palatable and fun.
Leveraging the Annual Planning Workbook
The High Tides Annual Business Planning workbook, available as a free download, provides concrete steps for year-end business reviews. We designed the workbook to help support you with our top 6 tips for year end business reflection. Here’s what it covers:
- Begin with gratitude – Reflect on achievements, learnings, and opportunities uncovered throughout the year.
- Extend that gratitude by sending thank you notes to clients, colleagues, and other partners.
- Set ambitious goals for the upcoming year, noting what to avoid or discontinue based on past experiences.
- Dive into financials – Analyze revenue peaks and troughs to identify potential future opportunities.
- Marketing audit – Review growth in email subscribers and social media followers to gauge past performance and set future targets.
- Leadership reflection – Define the kind of leader you aim to become to achieve your set goals.
Now, most of this work you can do solo while sitting or standing at your home office desk, but business strategy development doesn’t get really fun, until you get some feedback. So, bring on the robots! (and friends and colleagues too, if you got em).
Benefits of AI in Business Strategy Formulation
Yearend business reflection does not have to feel lonely. The emergence of new tech means you will always have someone to bounce ideas off of when it comes to strategy. The best thing about using Artificial Intelligence in business planning is it will serve to introduce you to new ideas and new perspectives (much like a business bestie would). This year I used ChatGPT and VenturusAI, to further streamline our business strategic planning process.
ChatGPT serves as a reliable AI assistant in strategy formulation. It responds to queries with narrative and tabulated insights, helping construct marketing strategies, financial goals, and quarter-by-quarter training and development plans. Here are some of the ChatGPT prompts that I used in my business planning process:
- I want to start annual planning for 2024 in my business. I would like to take the results I achieved with sales marketing and operations for the year and use it to help inform goals for next year. What data can I give you to help you support me in this strategic planning exercise?
- I think I have collected all the metrics I can from this present year in business. Please complete a strategic analysis and make recommendations for 2024 business development, operations and marketing strategy based on the following: (insert your business results and metrics from the previous year)
- Please suggest some quarterly goals/targets for me to hit for 2024. Be specific in recommendations for product volume and total revenue numbers as well as marketing activities I should focus on to support them. Provide recommendations in a table format with columns for each quarter and rows for revenue goals, product goals, marketing strategies and any other high-level operations tasks that should be my focus for that quarter.
Pretty boss right? Try it and let me know how it goes. And then, try another business planning tool, like. . .
VenturusAI offers comprehensive business analysis using just your company URL or a brief description. It delivers a full business SWOT analysis; crucial for the year ahead’s strategy. Using the tools together, I was able to feed ChatGPT the business SWOT analysis that VenturusAI provided and then proceed to do some goal setting for the business in the areas of sales, marketing, operations and business development.
Using these two business planning tools together, I was able to obtain financial pacing tables with revenue goals of both $500,000 and just over $200,000. It’s a handy tool when collaborating with a bookkeeper or fractional CFO. And I get to be their most reported client of the year when it comes time to business financial forecasting (gold star for me).
Key Elements for a Comprehensive Business Plan
No matter how quick or how deep you go into your yearend business review and strategic planning, there are 5 key things you do want to at least review and reflect upon for the year ahead.
Vision and Mission: Always keep your primary objectives front and center. Example: What are your company’s values and how will they be incorporated into your business development, sales, marketing and financial goals and processes for the year?
SWOT Analysis: Recognize your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Example: Use VenturusAI to build out your SWOT analysis and check it against your real business experience in the last year
Objectives & KPIs: Use tangible metrics to track your progress. Examples: email subscribers, conversion rates, customer lifetime value
Action Plans: After devising your strategy, define the immediate next steps. Example: Review the plan and incorporate into your project management software or planner/calendar for the weeks and months ahead
Review and Adapt: Ensure you set intervals for regular progress checks and be ready to adjust your strategies as necessary. Example: Share the plan with the team, set quarterly strategy check in meetings.
Incorporating DEI into Your Business Planning
Infusing DEI throughout your strategic business planning is paramount. Think about inclusive strategy development and invite diverse perspectives to eliminate biases and ensure alignment with your objectives. Collaborate with business coaches, stakeholders, and other partners to refine and polish your strategy so that more folks get to participate in the strategy, help to improve it, and have ownership of the outcomes.
Plan Your Dream
A dream without a plan remains a mere wish. Devote time to articulate what you want in business and life. Both are intricately connected.
Need help? Check out our upcoming events and Register for our Business Planning for Bots workshop to delve into tools like ChatGPT. If you’re looking for an in-depth strategy session, consider our Vision Roadmap sessions to get a personalized strategic small business planning workshop for yourself.