As we start the new calendar year, remember to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and what’s next. In my own strategic planning and with my clients, I use four simple but effective filters borrowed from B/Coach, a world leader in business coach certification. If you haven’t done so yet, envision the results you would like to see for your life and your business by the end of the year. Use these four filters to create your plan:
The first filter is the External Filter. In looking through an external filter, examine the trends external to your business. For example, review how things are changing in the marketplace and how your business may influence or be affected by those trends. Whether it is social media marketing or the latest mobile marketing plug ins, you’ll want to pay attention to these external influences because they will impact how you get your message out in the marketplace and how people are receiving those messages.
Is the Baby Boomer generation in your target market? If so, it’s a good idea to take a look at their preferences and trends impacting their buying decisions, especially if you provide services and products for that market.
The second filter is Internal. When using the internal filter, look at how the inside of your business is working. Remember, however, that external trends can have a dramatic influence on the internal operations of your small business. Many years ago, healthcare systems were caught off guard because nationally, nursing professionals were reaching the age of retirement, leaving many healthcare companies without a depth of knowledge on their bench. Savvy business leaders realized they needed to create strategic plans that retained their experienced workforce, focused on succession planning, and redesigned patient care delivery especially if they wanted to continue to be in business.
That wasn’t the only external change that affected internal operations. The advent of electronic plug ins and systems makes it easier than ever to automate your internal operations freeing you and your staff to focus on other revenue-generating and client-centric activities. Keeping yourself informed of external trends often yields solutions to your internal operations.
The third filter is Financial. While reviewing your financials is an integral step in any year end review, it shouldn’t be done in isolation from the other filters mentioned because they intertwine. For example, let’s say you want to double your income over the next year. How are you going to do that? What are some of the external trends affecting your target market? What internal marketing systems will you need to develop to reach your audience? How will you budget for those expenses? These filters can help you develop a thought-out plan to take you from concept to reality.
The fourth filter is Developmental. When you look at your business through the developmental filter, it could be a standalone filter or integrated with the others. For example, what types of things or systems need to be developed internally, externally and financially for you to operate more effectively? Once you’ve identified those areas, develop an action plan so they are acted upon throughout the year.
Remember to review your own personal development, too. As an entrepreneur, if you’re not purposefully investing in your own development, you’re missing out on an important component of building a sustainable business. Every time I invest in my own personal development, I’ve gotten more than 20 times what I invested. Instead of your development being an afterthought, identify areas you need to develop and enroll in programs that will help you excel further.
These amazingly simple four filters can be used in every day decision making, applied in your year-end scorecard review, and plan for the year. They can make the difference between living with the status quo or discovering opportunities and proactively putting your goals on the fast track.