Week 16: Planning for the year ahead

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The middle of December is a strange time of year for all. Some are already starting to slow down and getting into the full swing of the season’s festivities, whilst others are rushing around even more manically than normal in an attempt to finalise matters before things shut down properly.

And getting anything meaningful accomplished becomes impossible until the second week of January. And as an entrepreneur or someone running an early stage business I would guess that you are almost definitely going to fall into the second category.

It is also the time of year that is perfect to reflect on the last 12 months and to analyse the highs and lows, and to draw up an action plan for 2020 that should ensure bigger and more frequent highs, and many fewer lows. As one of the major keys to running a successful business is always about planning ahead then there should of course already be a plan for 2020 in place, but now is the time to refine it and make sure that it is fit for purpose. Re-analyse you sales, your marketing, your competition, the marketplace, and all those other factors that ensure that you remain ahead of the competition. In fact it is a good time to revalidate your whole business plan.

Given the reflective time of year, it was of no surprise that, without exception, all of my meetings this week were precisely about planning ahead for 2020 and ensuring that by the 1st January there would be a solid action plan in place with a detailed timeline to roll out certain activities. The first meeting was with someone at the start of that journey as they had the broad ideas and wider scope of planning ahead but were now in the fact finding phase and looking to validate the market, find partners, and all the other many parts that need to come together to change dreams into commercial reality.

I also had the opportunity to speak with many early-stage businesses and mix business with seasonal festivities at a party hosted by one of the world’s leading law firm. All of these businesses were already being fast-tracked and had very exciting plans for 2020 and beyond. What struck home yet again was the sheer diversity of businesses, ideas, and founders behind them – just showing yet again that the possibilities are almost limitless if you have the right foundations and work with the right partners.

There was another meeting with the founder of an existing business that was all about making sure that the product, service, company, and everything else, was revalidated and evaluated so that the planning ahead for next year was able to ensure that the big push from local company to national company was tightly targeted to ensure the biggest impact and the best outcome possible. With a revised business model and clearer thinking, this company is another that I am very confident will have a very busy and successful 2020.

And to round the week off were two meetings that were very similar to each other, as both were entirely focused on planning ahead that has now been finalised, and how these plans were to be rolled out and achieved over the next year. The first was about rapidly growing the brand and the company using a range of different approaches, whilst the second was about a very detailed timeline and schedule of planned events with a view to scaling the business and increasing profitability and underlying valuation.

So whether you are at that concept stage of starting a new business or already in a more established business, planning ahead is crucial. Just like January can be seen by many as the time of year for New Year’s Resolutions in our personal lives, I believe that the last few weeks of the year are just perfect for planning ahead, to ensure that your business will grow and prosper in the coming year.