It’s a very cold and very foggy morning in Western Oregon on Monday Dec. 28. This is that strange week we get every year, right in the middle of holidays. A lot of companies close. Retail does a lot of business. And it’s a great time for planning.
I emphasize planning, not just the plan. Don’t sweat the formality of “the plan,” but give yourself and your business the benefit of planning.
Unless you’re in a busy retail business, things are quieter. You had a long holiday weekend and you have another long holiday weekend coming. A lot of people are thinking and writing about next year, writing about resolutions, trends, and predictions. It’s relatively easy this week to step back away from the day-to-day operations and look at the broad view. Take a fresh look at your market. Take a fresh look at your business.
Objectives: review your long-term goals. What’s success to you? Have you been moving toward it? Has your view of success changed? I can tell you that my vision of success changed through the years. Cash flow independence, growth, sales, freedom, fun, independence?
Market: take a fresh look at your market. Markets change right under our eyes, and if we don’t take a step away, sometimes, we miss the change. It’s like watching children grow up; you see the changes from year to year, but not day to day. How’s your relationship with the people who buy what you sell? How has it changed? Are your customers still the same kind of people or businesses they’ve always been? Do they find you the same way? Do they get the same benefits from you that they always have? Are you serving the same needs you always have?
Strategy: I think of strategy as focusing in on specifics of your business identity, market, and business offering. Review your identity with a good SWOT analysis: That’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s better if you get a team together for a SWOT analysis, but even if it’s just you, it’s still a good idea. Take a good look at your market focus. Are there new markets emerging? Do changes in your business offering lead you to new markets? Are there possibly some new market segments that your day-to-day focus has missed? Look especially for contiguous markets, meaning those that are close to your current markets, getting their benefits from things close to your current business offerings?
Specifics: planning is about specific concrete steps you can track and manage. Start thinking about dates and deadlines and specific task responsibilities.
(Image credit: Susumis/Shutterstock)