As November nears its end and the winter holidays get under way, many of us find ourselves in a heightened state of activity both at home and at work. At the same time,we’re in a reflective frame of mind. It’s tempting to treat the holiday period as much-deserved down time—but really, does down time ever actually happen?
While business owners may find a way to take a brief break from doing their business as the year draws to a close, they rarely, if ever, stop thinking about their business. It’s the natural time to reflect back on the year coming to a close, and a good opportunity to plan next steps for the year ahead. This is just the right time to do your annual planning, to document what you’ve learned over the past year and where you want to focus next.
Annual planning is at the heart of your leadership as an entrepreneur. It should be an enlivening and motivating experience for you–and we’re here to help you make it so.
Creating an annual plan should invite you to be as passionate about the company you’re creating as you are about the product or service you deliver. It should give you a felt experience of where your company is today, how you want it to be five years from now and the gap between here and there. Being a thoughtful, intentional, effective leader will help you close the gap year after year. An annual plan is the roadmap to take you there, one year at a time.
We’re offering a free Annual Plan e-book to give you a way to structure and document your ideas, goals and plans for 2024. To go along with it, here are some ways to cultivate your thinking as you’re working through the structure, so you can make sure the planning experience is alive and inspiring—never dry or static.
1. Know yourself.
When you understand yourself—your values, your feelings, your needs and the life you want to live—it puts you in touch with why you own a business in the first place. Your business is simply an expression of who you are.
Knowing yourself intimately allows you to infuse your annual plan with what matters most to you. That’s how you impact people and achieve the results you most want to get from your business.
2. Imagine a clear picture of a business that works.
Having a clear and specific picture of the business of your dreams, that serves your life and inspires others to feel part of something bigger than themselves, is a crucial mindset for annual planning. Without this picture firmly in mind, you’re likely to find yourself just “filling in the blanks,” not fully engaging with the business you want to create. The clearer your picture, the better you’ll be able to objectively evaluate where things stand now and decide what you most want to achieve next year and beyond.
3. Make well-informed choices about your annual planning.
It’s a good start, but insufficient, to wind up with a list of goals and projects that seem right but don’t have obvious connections to your picture of a business that works. By drawing an undeniable connection between each goal and project you include in your 2024 annual plan and the longer-term vision you want to achieve, you and your team will be much more likely to move the needle next year. Be discerning about how you’ll allocate your own resources as well as your company’s resources to make measurable progress in 2024.
4. Be true to yourself.
Being the leader of your business can feel lonely sometimes.
Inside your own head, you might question whether you’re right to want your business to be a reflection of you. Maybe you sometimes wonder if it should look more like another business you admire.
Do your best to resist the urge to make your company less like you and more like something else. You’ll get the best results from being authentic and creating your business as a reflection of your authenticity. Be brave in your annual plan. Make every goal and project an expression of your values and your standards.
And, if you don’t feel completely confident taking on each of the four thinking habits we’re recommending, talking to a mentor can be clarifying and enlightening. We invite you to accept our offer of a free coaching session. It’ll help you see yourself and your business in a way you never have before—just at the right time to think ahead to 2024.