The New Year is a milestone for any business owner. With another year on the books, it represents a moment to look back and take stock of what you’ve achieved.
This is a great moment to evaluate the successes you’ve earned and the progress you’ve made. At the same time, understanding the areas where you came up short can help prevent you from repeating past mistakes.
January is a time of year to absorb the lessons from the past — and take that wisdom to create a reliable plan for the future.
It’s much easier to reflect on your past year if you’re equipped with measurable goals. This is true for all businesses, regardless of size, industry, or where you operate (online or in person).
Creating your 2022 strategy and goals will provide you with an essential touchpoint throughout the year.
If you create an effective strategy, it will be your compass guiding every decision and charting a clear path for your employees to follow. And well-designed goals will help you measure success regularly.
Together, your strategy and goals form your master plan for the year. To create your 2022 master plan, you need to follow three steps:
- Step 1: Measure success
- Step 2: Form a strategy
- Step 3: Set measurable goals
If you follow these steps, you’ll be thanking yourself next January for your efforts.
We can’t promise that your master plan will remove every bump from the road ahead. But a great strategy will give you the confidence and the tools you need to get through them.
Step 1: Measure success
Building your future plans starts by understanding what worked — and what didn’t — in the past. Before you can start creating your 2022 plans, you need to look at your business outcomes from 2021.
If you were already tracking performance metrics throughout the year, this data should be readily available. If you weren’t, that’s okay — we’ll summarize the top metrics you need to measure moving forward.
Your sales performance won’t just help you calculate your bottom-line profit. It will also tell you what areas of your business are most (or least) profitable. This is valuable information when determining your sales strategy for the year ahead.
- Quantity of sales
- Dollar amount of sales
- Sales by product or service
Number of customers
Calculating the total number of customers is a helpful metric for annual and monthly comparisons. It will help you understand the times of year that are busier or slower and whether your business is counting on more customers year-over-year.
- Monthly number of customers
- Annual number of customers
Number of new hires
As your business grows, the size of your team will also increase to reflect the increased need for productivity. This can be a particularly exciting metric to keep track of, especially for fast-growing businesses. You can also measure the health of your team by looking at your turnover rate.
- Total new hires
- Turnover rate
Your ability to grow often comes down to the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
Measuring these tactics on a regular basis will help you know where to invest your time and dollars to the greatest effect.
Specifically, you should seek an understanding of what messages, website pages, and marketing channels delivered the highest rates of conversion and engagement. You’ll want to feature these prominently in your 2022 marketing strategy.
- Website visitors
- Social media performance
- Email marketing metrics
If you set goals for this year, you’ll want to take a close look at your results and understand the reasons why they turned out the way they did.
There are plenty of lessons in success.
If you met or exceeded specific goals, seek to understand why. This will help you generate further growth in the year ahead.
After meeting or exceeding your goals:
- What made this possible? Was it internal efforts, external engagement, or both?
- Can we maintain or repeat the conditions that enabled success?
There’s no shame in coming up short.
In fact, missing goals can be useful data to help you avoid making the same mistakes again. Engage in curiosity around the results, and dig into why they happened.
When goals come up short:
- How far were we from our goal?
- What was the cause of the failure?
- Do we need to update our operations to do better next time?
- Do we need to improve our external messaging to bring in more customers?
- What would it take to avoid this in the future?
Use these metrics to form a complete picture of your business over the last year. Take time to summarize the lessons learned and best practices for the future — these will come in handy for the next step.
Step 2: Form a strategy
Now that you’re equipped with the previous year’s performance metrics, you can build your strategy for the year to come. Your 2022 master plan should keep up the momentum for what was most effective over the last year.
Focus on what works
Start by prioritizing 2021’s most effective practices.
Did that spring sale bring in a significant increase of new customers? You’ll probably want to run that promotion again.
Or maybe your enterprise marketing strategy closed a significant multi-user deal. How can you continue to build on that success for future new business prospects?
As you plan to execute the most successful tactics, you’ll need to make sure your team is large enough to handle the work that’s required for execution. This is a great moment to ask for feedback from your staff.
If they ask for more resources, you should look into their requests. Without a well-trained staff by your side, you might run the risk of being unable to execute your most effective tactics.
Suppose you’re anticipating significant growth over the next year. In that case, you’ll want to increase your sales, marketing, and hiring goals to keep pace with these changes.
Didn’t work? Get rid of it
It may go without saying — but we’ll still say it: the new year is a great time to discard old processes and ideas that didn’t work last year.
Writers go by an old saying: “Kill your darlings.”
It means if a section of your writing doesn’t serve a purpose, you need to get rid of it — no matter how emotionally attached you are to it.
The same idea applies to business and process owners. To remain successful, you need to stay critical of your business’ “darlings.” You can trust your metrics to tell you what practices are no longer serving your best interests.
Empowered with this information, you can start fresh by reallocating any associated resources towards the tactics that perform best.
Be open to testing
Last, you should incorporate any relevant industry trends into your master plan.
For example, suppose you identify that more of your customers are frequenting a new marketing channel. In that case, you should plan for your team to experiment with it.
Keep an open mindset when trying new things that could potentially benefit your bottom line. This applies to any new channels, techniques, or technologies available to your business.
Start by allocating some resources for testing, and define your measures of success. If the new approach meets your initial expectations, you can grow your involvement and fold it into your plans.
Step 3: Set measurable goals
A strategy remains a well-thought-out piece of paper — until you take action.
That’s why you need to set measurable goals to track progress and hold yourself accountable throughout the year to come.
Measurable goals help you translate your ideas into effective practices.
For each line item in your strategy document, you should develop a related goal you can measure every month, quarter, and year. Known as KPIs (key performance indicators), this approach will keep you and your team on track to meet your goals throughout 2022.
KPIs have particular characteristics. They must be:
- Specific and described with tangible actions.
- Measurable with quantifiable data.
- Achievable within the timeline.
- Realistic based on available resources.
- Timely as related to other steps in the annual plan.
Once you’ve set your goals, you’ll need to create an accountability structure to make sure you can reach them.
Assign a team member to monitor progress and keep you informed. He or she should alert you to necessary updates as the month, quarter, and year moves along.
Setting up a weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly meeting to review the numbers related to KPIs will help keep the channels of communication open. It will also help you make time for goals review — which can often slip down the priorities list when things get busy.
Conclusion: Set up your master plan for success in 2022
Creating a strategy and measurable goals for your business isn’t a small effort. But it’s 100% worth your time and energy.
This process will help you:
- Understand what tactics are most effective for your business’ success.
- Identify and eliminate the tactics draining your resources.
- Create an engaging and fulfilling work environment for your employees.
- Empower your conversations with investors — if you want to take that route.
These are just some of the many benefits of creating a 2022 master plan.
Download The Complete Guide to Entrepreneurship in Eastern Kentucky for more helpful resources and tips.