It’s that time of year when we begin to think about 2014 and what goals we’re aspiring to reach and the changes we want to make. In this article, I’ll share some information with you that I learned in a session at PartnerCon about strategic planning.
First, you want to include your team members in the strategic planning sessions. Don’t try to go it alone! You’ll want to set aside several hours to several days (spread it out over time if necessary) depending on the size of your team. Assign someone to be the note taker/cheerleader. If you’re doing this in one location, you can use sticky notes and put them on the wall. If you’re doing this virtually, you can use something like GoToMeeting where you can jot down the thoughts on the computer and everybody can see them. You also want your cheerleader to continue encouraging input from others.
So…where do you begin? Let’s start with looking at everything you achieved over the last year (if this is your first strategic planning meeting) or since the last meeting (if you have been doing this). Let the accomplishments fly! Take about 15 to 20 minutes and just throw out everything you can think of. I’m sure there will be things on that list you probably forgot all about! A couple of my accomplishments included creating my Infusionsoft training videos and hiring an Online Business Manager.
Next let’s look at the lessons learned over the last year or since your last meeting. Some of your accomplishments may have been a result of a lesson learned, while some of your biggest struggles taught you something as well. Again, take 15 to 20 minutes and brainstorm. A couple of things I learned were the importance of having standard operating procedures and looking at my financials on a regular basis.
Take yet another 15 to 20 minutes and look at the strengths of you and your business. What do you really rock at? Where do you or your team members excel? List each and every one. A couple of Strategic Virtual Solutions’ strengths are Infusionsoft and proactiveness.
Next, it’s time to turn the coin over and look at weaknesses. Any guess on how long to take? You got it! So what do you stink at? What’s a common complaint from clients or team members that keeps recurring? Where do you struggle? A couple of our weaknesses include the API (getting techie/codey with Infusionsoft) and my own social media. We do great with clients’ social media, but don’t always take the time necessary to take care of my own. Watch for that to change in 2014, though!
Almost done… Let’s look at opportunities you’ve had. What opportunities have come your way over the last year to grow your business? Sometimes we are inundated with opportunities and aren’t able to capitalize on all of them, so jot down any you missed but which you want to do this coming year. Mine include attending networking events and meeting new people, as well as the popularity of Infusionsoft continuing to grow.
Finally, list out your threats. What threats have you perceived, experienced or do you foresee in your future? Even if you don’t want to think about them, you should. They do exist! Items on my list include the fact that every quarter there are a few more Infusionsoft Certified Consultants – so more competition – and that team members could leave – so less help.
You now have all of your lists…what next?
Pick the most important issues from each list, then narrow it down to between three and five to concentrate on. Don’t try to do too many. These become the strategic items to take care of over the next few months. Then start working on ideas to improve. Here are some sample questions you can ask yourself:
– How do we improve _________ given the lack of ____________?
– How do we convert __________ better given the ___________?
– How do we become more ____________ when moving prospects to customers given the ____________?
It’s important to take some time away from the day-to-day operation of your business so you can concentrate and create your strategic plan for 2014. This is your starting point, then continue to have these strategic planning meetings throughout the year to ensure continued success!