Embrace the Season of Reflection for Strategic Planning
Q4 is a great time of year. That’s when everyone starts to slow down and prepare for the winter holidays. If you’re a business owner, it’s the opportune time to start dedicating some time and energy on your vision and strategic plan for the year to come. So here it is; your guide for Q4 strategic planning for entrepreneurs.
Avoid Common Business Planning Pitfalls
Great strategic planning, however, is definitely an art and a science. We’ll review four of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make when devising their annual strategic plan and give you the tools and tips necessary to avoid them completely. Use this end of your period to reflect on your business performance and set yourself up for success in the year to come. We see you, business owner, and we want to help.
Most humans overestimate what they can accomplish in one year.
Mistake 1: Too Many Goals
Most business owners make the mistake of trying to do too much in one year. Most humans overestimate what they can accomplish in one year, but underestimate what they can achieve in 5 or 10. Instead:
- Consider employing the Pareto Principle in your business: That means focus on the top 20% of your activities that give you the 80% of your results. This works for the services you offer, the types of clients you serve and the number of strategies you employ to grow.
- Set one Big Hairy Audacious Goal for the year: Consider the one thing that would make your whole year and then work backwards to devise smaller projects that support the one goal. This helps you to maintain focus and keep resource allocation super-efficient.
- Refine your customer avatar: Use the end of year to do a few market research interviews, collect some surveys and get clear on who you serve and the best way you can serve them. These insights are critical for conserving time and energy later on.
Mistake 2: Ignoring Digital Trends in Your Strategic Planning
It can feel overwhelming to keep up with all the trends in the digital technology space. But remember mistake number one of not being focused. To help navigate tech overwhelm:
- Sift through the tech noise: Focus only on searching for tools that actually align with your business’ desired focus areas.
- Embrace the AI revolution: Use a catalog like the Supertools AI guide to to filter by the areas where you need the most support. Once you have the short list, delegate to your VA or business manager to see if the functionality you desire is present. Whenever possible, take advantage of free trials before investing in new additions to your tech stack.
Mistake 3: Neglecting Professional Development
Set it and forget it is a phrase that has no place in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. Strategic Planning is all about learning how to adapt as the business landscape shifts. Keep growing and learning (with your business) by:
- Playing to your strengths: Invest in the skills and services where you have been the most successful. You can magnify your efforts by upleveling in the areas where you are good, and then make them great.
- Go Ham on Training Resources: What additional training, books, workshops or coaching and consulting can you include as part of your strategic planning efforts? Look for support that will help you maximize the strategies that are giving you your best returns.
- Take assessments to pinpoint your entrepreneur development needs: Use tools like our Entrepreneur SkillFinder for insights about ways to beef up your business acumen. Consider using a Leadership 360 assessment to get feedback about your leadership and people skills from your team, clients and vendors.
Mistake 4: Going Solo and Withholding the Strategic Plan from Others
You can’t see your goals come to fruition, if you aren’t willing to speak about them, especially with your team. When you communicate your strategy, you get more:
- Accountability: This means setting up meetings to share your business strategy with your accountant or financial officer, your head of operations or business manager, your sales team lead or head of business development. This ensures that the entire team is on the same page.
- Cohesion: When everyone is working towards the same big goal, it enables you to delegate a lot of the cognitive load that comes with running all areas of your business. This also supports your team, because they can act with more autonomy instead of having to be micromanaged for every task and deliverable; if we’re all moving forward together, we’re doing good.
Now, if you’re still trying to figure out how to put a plan like this together for the year, you can either block some time off on YouTube calendar to do this work solo, or you can find a workshop where you can knock out a lot of this strategy work with peers.
One option is to join us for our AI assisted small business accelerator where we will be in community with over a dozen service-based entrepreneurs as we do a comprehensive annual review. The half-day session will help you to set a big hair goal, audit your financials and marketing strategies, and then leverage AI to create quarterly goals for the upcoming year. It’s annual strategic planning on overdrive, with friends… and a couple of robots.
Learn more and register for this half day workshop experience on our events page.
The end of the year is a time for rest and reflection. It can also be an opportunity for generating the fuel you need to have a great year ahead. And with a supportive team and lots of accountability, you can avoid a lot of common mistakes that any entrepreneurs make when planning strategically for the new year.