In all reality if you don't have your plan for 2018 in place by now, it is obviously a little too late. It is easy to get wrapped up in the holidays right now, and generally a higher level of focus is needed to be productive in the week between Christmas and the New Year. Your strategies for 2018 should be laid out long before this point. At this point your "plan" can only be considered a guideline at best.
I know....... it's not like you don't have enough to do in November and December with the year winding down. I've heard all of the reasons (excuses) why this gets put on the back burner. That being said, at the end of November/beginning of December you have all of the data and analysis you need, along with research you should be doing like market analysis and expected trends for the coming year. This allows you to put together a highly detail specific plan. This plan should be heavily weighted towards the first quarter, but flexible enough that it can be adjusted as the year moves forward. However, we have already established that if you don't have a detailed strategy in place by now that it is too late. So file what I have said to this point away in a safe place until next November and let's talk about what you can do right now to make sure you still hit the ground running in 2018.
SENSE OF URGENCY
A sense of urgency right now is going to be your best friend. You lucked out a bit since January 1st falls on a Monday when a lot of businesses are closed. If you are one of those businesses then you have one extra day to do your last minute planning. If not, I guess you will be doing it on the fly.
Let that sense of urgency in. It can feel a little like panic, but in your case that is good. If you are a small business owner, or you run a small business, you didn't get to that point by letting this feeling cripple you. You are in charge because you thrive under pressure and have a track record of producing results in stressful or less than ideal situations. To steal a quote From the movie The Replacements, "winners always want the ball.... when the game is on the line".
FOCUS ON JANUARY
Many businesses that I have worked with ask me "we had a good fourth quarter, why can't we just continue with business as usual?". The answer to this is simple, you can, and you should! If it is not broken, don't fix it. However if you think everything is going to be the same in 2018 as it was in 2017, it is going to be a tough year. We focus a lot on strategic planning from year to year, but there is a reason that plan needs to be flexible. Trends will change, markets shift, demographics fluctuate, technology is improved, and regulations are added and removed. If you are not a brand new business then you know what worked last March, in many ways was not what worked last November, let alone from year to year. For this reason, you can get away with making January your main focus right now.
Take a look back at your data from January 2017. While we discussed trends changing and so forth, you can gain a lot of information solely based on seasonal numbers. This will also save you the time of having to go through yearly, or even quarterly numbers (which if you don't have your plan in place by now, you don't have time to do anyway). The time saved by focusing directly on one month of data can be used to research predicted trends, forecasts, technology booms, etc. There are many places to find this information but be careful, as there are a lot of people with platforms on this issue and terrible track records on actual insight. I get my information from multiple sources, but you can CLICK HERE to go to just one place as an example. If you would like help with this and your small business in in Denver, CO, CLICK HERE to book a free consultation, or email me HERE to do the same. If you are not in Denver you can email me as well and we can discuss what will help with your particular business.
If you can use your sense of urgency to your advantage, while focusing your attention on a strategic plan for January, your business will be on the right track to take on what comes at you in 2018. If you have read my previous post you know why I am such a small business fan, and my motivations for wanting to help them succeed.
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