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3 Steps to Planning a Successful Q4...


How are you making out with your 2022 goals? Will the next 65 business days be enough to get you where you wanted to be? It’s actually 64 days when you take the Thanksgiving holiday into consideration. I hope that doesn’t send a shiver up your spine! If it does, it’s not too late to get you and your team focused on what matters most to your business.

When you mention the word plan, many people think in terms of a blue print, something rigid and inflexible. In reality, your business plans need to somewhat fluid. If the Pandemic and the recent escalation in product costs coupled with reduced consumer demand have taught us anything, it’s that you need to be prepared to adapt as required. I believe it’s helpful to think of planning as a guidance tool rather than a means of control.


I asked a project manager colleague about his take on the importance of business planning. He agreed completely that planning is vital to business success. He quoted a phrase he called the 5 P’s - “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” Of course just having a plan doesn’t guarantee results. It is a well-documented fact that those who make plans, write them down and then share their goals are much more likely to achieve them. I should also point out that it’s important not to let the process of planning and setting goals overwhelm you. Think of performance goals as the steps in a staircase and the end goal as the final landing at the top of the stairs.


So where do you start? First, take time to assess your current situation. How did you get here? What current factors do you need to contend with? What did you learn from the recent past? What are your current quarterly objectives? After taking stock of where you are, it’s helpful to create contingency plans for all of the possible “what ifs” that you can think of.


All business owners today must realize that the dominant pattern of history isn’t stability, but instability and disruption. So, how do you deal with this? The best way to predict your future is to go out and create it. That means getting a plan together and moving forward. Starting now, where you are, with the resources you have.


It’s time to get to work on your 90 day plan! Why 90 days? The fact is, many people don’t think past the next 90 day window and its long enough to significantly impact your business results. Yes, it’s important to have your milestone goals for your 3 to 5 year time horizons. You will also need to set annual strategic objectives. Planning one year at a time can be an onerous and sometimes wasteful task if you try to plan too narrowly at that point. As I mentioned earlier, things change frequently so you will need to adjust quickly. The 90 plan is all about having a working plan.


Here are 3 keys to the 90 day planning process:


1) Narrow your focus to 5 or 6 key goals – about ½ of these should be focused on profitability and growth. These key goals are separate from your regular departmental objectives that require a longer time horizon.


2) Use the SMART approach to setting goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Keep in mind that there is no point in setting goals that are unrealistic and unattainable. You, as the leader, should know what your people are capable of. Set them up for success, not failure.


3) Set your goals, and then assign the related objectives by department, manager and by employee. Include timelines, minimum targets and stretch goals. People like to know what is expected of them so providing clear communication on their objectives will actually help them to be focused and more engaged.


Bonus Tip – If you are currently behind in your 2022 objectives, be reasonable in what you plan for in Q4. It doesn’t help to set unrealistic goals like trying to make up a 50% sales decline. Instead, focus on getting turned around and headed in the right direction. This will set you up for a positive Q1 in 2023.


The 90 day planning format should be completed quarterly. This should take you and your team about a day to complete. The advantage of this approach is that you set clear expectations. This helps to build team cohesiveness and commitment to the longer term business goals.


Treat your plan as a work in progress. It’s a living breathing document. Write it down, share it and then revisit it regularly!


Would you like some assistance with your business planning? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at andrew@newhorizonsbizdev.com Let’s start with a conversation…

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