Annual Business Planning: How to Get the Most Out of Your Year-End Planning Workshops

November 5, 2020
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As 2020 nears its end, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2021 and beyond. If you own a business, you’ll want to schedule a strategic annual business planning meeting with your leadership team. It’s important to remember that your business is your wealth creation vehicle. While we focus this article on business planning, ensure you complete your personal planning first. Your business goals should be built around your personal and financial objectives.

Have a Targeted Agenda

Whether it is one focused meeting or a series of meetings is up to you. The structure is less important than the agenda itself. You want to maximize your time together and focus on the issues that matter most to your company. You’ll want to figure out where you are now and where you want to go next year. You’ll want to start putting a strategic plan together before the new year starts. This way, you can hit the ground running when January 4th rolls around (assuming you have the 1st and the rest of the holiday weekend off).

The goal of an annual business planning meeting is to achieve certain important objectives:

  • Improve Communication
  • Alignment of Company Goals and Values
  • Reviewing and Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Defining Strategic Priorities
  • Developing an Action Plan to Achieve Your Company Goals

Listen to All Ideas

An annual business planning meeting can cover a lot of ground. You can dream as big as you want and discuss outside-the-box ideas to grow your business, expand your customer base or improve your service or products. Don’t set limits on your potential and don’t immediately dismiss all ideas. Not everything will make the final cut for the strategic plan. Still, it never hurts to listen to creative ideas and suspend the notion that “this is the way things have always been done here.” The objective of this meeting is to find ways to increase business next year. Maybe the way you’ve always done things isn’t going to get you where you need to be.

This Year vs. Next Year

You can review this year, including growth achievement and other important accomplishments. Celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. Then, shift your focus to the future as you develop your strategic plan for 2021. You can think several years ahead, as well, but make sure your plan focuses on the next year and specific steps you can take to keep moving the business in the right long-term direction. A good plan accounts for both short-term priorities and long-term business goals.

Involve the Right People

Another important point to your annual strategic business planning meeting is to involve the right people. Get representatives from each department and don’t be afraid to invite people who might bring something new to the table. A small business might invite the entire staff. A large company will have to pick and choose its meeting representatives. Those representatives (typically managers) may want to arrange their own staff planning meetings before and after the main meeting to gather ideas from workers and then ultimately discuss how to implement the final plan in their department.

A good business plan will build in accountability for specific team members. When those team members are involved in the planning (at least on some level), they are more likely to buy in and do their part to make the plan successful.

Make it Special

Of course, you also want to make your annual business planning meeting something special. It can be an out-of-town retreat or be held somewhere off-site (COVID may be making this more difficult in 2020). Sometimes it can be hard to get really good ideas when sitting around the same old conference table where you already meet every week. Make the experience exciting, fun and enjoyable for the participants to open up the flow of ideas and focus on building a plan without the distractions of daily office life bogging everyone down.

Hire a Facilitator or Moderator

Last but not least, you may want to consider hiring an outside moderator or business advisor to run the meeting(s). This can bring an objective third-party perspective and also present a more organized approach. When you have a lot of important and smart people in the room at once sharing ideas, a professional moderator can keep the meeting on track and productive as you build out your step-by-step plan for 2021.

If you are looking for more business planning advice and financial guidance for your business—big or small—Illumination Wealth can help. Contact us today to schedule a confidential business advisement session with on of our top advisors.