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planning

As an entrepreneur, you likely have a long list of goals and objectives you want to achieve for your business. However, turning those goals into actionable and achievable plans can be challenging. Establishing goals and developing the corresponding tasks is one of the most essential components of planning for overall business growth — and probably the most daunting. Without it, however, measuring success, setting deadlines, prioritizing objectives, or even starting a project is challenging.

At Synnovatia, we see first-hand the importance of effective goal-setting is critical to achieving success.

planning
Key Difference: Smart Goals Vs. Tasks

When it comes to goal-setting, using SMART goals and tasks are two common approaches most entrepreneurs use to stay focused. Both are effective methods of planning and executing your objectives but have different purposes and structures. Knowing when to use which tool can make the difference in getting the results you want faster.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They help you identify your priorities and create a detailed plan to achieve them. SMART goals typically define long-term objectives, such as business growth, revenue increase, or percentage of market share. For example, if your goal is to increase sales by 20% this year, having a detailed implementation plan supports its achievement.

A pivotal point to remember when establishing SMART goals is to stay within achievability. You and your team will remain motivated and committed to completing them successfully. In fact, some of Synnovatia’s clients will often set three tiers of target goals. A red target indicates achievements are less than the previous measuring period. A yellow target goal meets the achievements of the previous measuring period. And, a green target goal exceeds the achievements of the previous period. Most have found this method advantageous following the post-COVID boom era when their industry still finds its legs for normality.

On the other hand, tasks are minor, specific, and detailed activities created to support the achievement of your SMART goals. Think of them as building blocks for your more extensive goal-setting process. Tasks are usually shorter and completed in hours or days. The greater the detail, the easier it is to find the clarity and focus that makes tasks effortless (almost) to implement. For instance, if your SMART goal is to increase sales by 20%, then weekly tasks may include designing new marketing materials or scheduling outbound emails.

Detailed tasks usually don’t stop there, although most of us get-er-done entrepreneurs do. The lack of detail often derails the best of intentions. To illustrate, designing new marketing materials likely requires 4-5 finer tasks before checking it off our list as complete.  Additional tasks such as contacting the marketing department, outlining the desired outcome, or determining the budget may be required, along with an estimated completion time.

When broken down into smaller tangible steps with clear deadlines, it’s much easier to manage your tasks proactively rather than reactively to ensure progress.

Plan Smarter: Weekly, Monthly, and Quarterly Planning Tips

Weekly, monthly, and quarterly planning are critical to effective goal achievement. It’s not enough to be good at goal setting…you and your team must become masters of implementation as well.

Weekly planning allows you to set tasks and goals for the upcoming week, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives. Communication of objectives, desired outcomes, and timelines is essential.

Monthly planning allows you to assess progress towards larger goals and adjust tasks accordingly. And, here’s the good news — if you and your team gain full command of the weekly planning process, the degree to which adjustments in monthly planning are required is significantly reduced.

Quarterly planning helps you evaluate progress toward longer-term goals and identify areas where adjustments may be necessary. Additionally, it’s the ideal time to reflect on accomplishments for the quarter and learning that can be carried forward into the next quarter.

Tracking progress along the continuum of weekly, monthly, and quarterly planning progress is vital to identify areas where intervention may be needed quickly. Corrective measures taken sooner rather than later save precious resources! Regularly reviewing and adjusting tasks based on progress keeps everyone on track and ensures that progress is steady toward achieving your ultimate objective.

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If you’re struggling to set smart goals and tasks for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. We’ll partner with you to share our expertise and knowledge specific to your planning needs. We’ll help you identify areas for improvement, set realistic goals, and stay on track to achieve them. Don’t let hurdles to planning hold you back from reaching your goals. 

planning

Planning is key to growing any business. It helps organizations set clear goals, identify the resources needed to achieve them, measure progress, and adapt quickly to unexpected challenges or opportunities in the marketplace.

But when a small business owner launches their enterprise, planning is often ad-hoc and focused primarily on surviving day-to-day. This is especially true for those bootstrapping as opposed to those with funding.

However, ad hoc planning only takes an organization so far before it collapses into chaos. Once an organization reaches “the messy middle,” planning requirements change. At this point, the entrepreneur needs to consider several types of planning that allow the business to stay one step ahead of the industry.

planning

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

Let’s dive into the different types of planning:

Strategic planning is the highest-level planning that occurs within an enterprise. It’s the process that involves analyzing the internal and external environments, identifying the critical areas of focus, determining long-term goals and objectives, and the strategies, resources, and actions required to achieve them. Strategic planning — and the accompanying skill of strategic thinking — is beneficial in identifying opportunities and threats in your external environment and aligning your internal resources and capabilities to exploit them. A well-planned and executed strategic plan helps build a sustainable competitive advantage and achieve long-term growth.

Business planning is a process that helps organizations define their short and medium-term goals and identify the resources required to achieve them. Unlike strategic planning, a high-level process, business planning focuses on specific operational areas such as marketing, sales, operations, and finance. It typically covers a one-to-three-year period and involves setting clear targets and milestones to measure progress. The duration of short and medium-term goals can be relative to the organization’s needs, including how rapidly the business is growing and the industry is changing or the impact of outside forces (think COVID or economic uncertainty).

Operational planning focuses on the day-to-day activities of your business. It involves defining specific actions required to achieve business objectives and allocating resources to execute them. Operational planning typically covers a shorter time frame than strategic or business planning, such as a month or a quarter. To develop your operational plan, identify the specific actions required to achieve your goals. You’ll also want to identify the resources needed to execute these actions, such as personnel, equipment, and technology. Next, allocate resources and set specific timelines and milestones to measure progress. And remember, automation can be your best friend in setting up repeatable processes to reduce workload and improve operational efficiency.

Financial planning is a critical process that helps you effectively manage your business’s financial resources. It involves forecasting future revenue and expenses, developing a budget, and monitoring actual performance against planned targets. Financial planning helps to manage cash flow, identify potential financial risks, and make informed decisions about resource investment and financing. To develop your financial plan, start by forecasting future revenue and expenses. Next, create a budget that allocates resources to different business areas, such as marketing, operations, and personnel. Also, develop a cash flow analysis that predicts future cash inflows and outflows. Finally, monitor actual performance against planned targets and adjust their financial plan as needed.

Contingency planning is a process that helps your business prepare for whatever unexpectedly is thrown your way. It includes identifying potential risks and developing plans to mitigate them. Events such as natural disasters, economic downturns, or supply chain disruptions can create a major upheaval in your business, often threatening closure. A contingency plan helps you reduce the impact of unforeseen events. Also, consider including a communication plan to ensure that employees, customers, and suppliers are informed of any disruptions and how the business plans to mitigate them.

Last but not least, succession planning ensures your business has a clear continuity plan and can maintain operations during periods of leadership change. Identify key leadership positions and provide mentorship, coaching, and shadowing opportunities as part of your succession plan. This will ensure a smooth transition when the time comes for a change in leadership.

Additionally, consider developing a contingency plan for unexpected leadership changes, such as sudden illness or death. This ensures your business can continue to operate without interruption in an emergency.

In conclusion, planning is crucial for the success of any business. It helps organizations set clear goals, identify the resources needed to achieve them, measure progress, and adapt quickly to unforeseen challenges or opportunities. By mastering different types of planning, you can set your business up for long-term success and secure your legacy for the future.

growth planning, entrepreneurs

Most entrepreneurs want to conduct proper growth planning for their businesses and even understand that doing so is essential to their success. Unfortunately, growth planning is continually interrupted and often falls through the cracks. This disruption is not caused by a lack of desire or a cavalier attitude to ‘wing it.’ So what is the problem? And how can it be solved?  

Before discussing the factors to include in your growth plan, we need to understand and eliminate the roadblocks interfering with its development  — otherwise, all the compelling advice will go to waste.

growth planning

The 6 Common Hurdles to Growth Planning 

Some prevalent challenges to planning are predictable, especially as your business enters Stage II of operations. 

Common Hurdle #1: The Time Quandry 

You spend your days like other CEOs –  putting out fires. It’s a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole. Given the volume of client projects and demands, it’s challenging to carve out additional time for plotting your future. As a result, the opportunity to think strategically about the outcome of your business is rare. 

Common Hurdle #2: The Inadequate Insight into Trends and Competition 

The inability to keep up with industry intelligence, trends, and competitors also relates to time. Insight into where your clients and competitors are heading is vital for strategic decisions. Unfortunately, finding time to garner these understandings is difficult. 

Common Hurdle #3: The Fatigue Factor 

Decision fatigue is real. The more decisions made in a day, regardless of size or consequence, the more we exhaust our ability to think clearly. 

Often stress and worry about the future of the business occupy our sleep. Sadly, restless sleep also makes it challenging to awake rested and rejuvenated, ready for the day ahead. 

Common Hurdle #4: The Misplaced Perspective 

The adage, “too close to the forest to see the trees,” aptly applies to business. Unfortunately, we’re often too close to our situation to think decidedly or objectively to see the possibilities. An objective business advisor who understands your business and best interests can be instrumental. 

Common Hurdle #5: The Disorganized Data 

Missing data often ties back to a lack of time. Digging into our data can also be challenging. There’s frequently much of it that it is difficult to know what string to pull that unravels the information to make it user-friendly. 

Yet, data removes emotion from decision-making. Subsequently, we make better-informed decisions to keep our business healthy and growing.

Common Hurdle #6:The Second Shift

Commitments don’t stop when you walk out of your office. Personal obligations are other barriers to the energy and clear thinking required for effective planning. In addition, caring for elderly parents or managing a busy household with kids in school and homework are often factors outside business hours that alter our capacity to plan. 

Attempting to carve out time is a brain drain, and the second shift is real. Unfortunately, you’re not alone in your time crunch challenge. 

The Solution? Micro Move Your Way Around the Obstacles.

It’s a bit of a pipe dream to expect any busy entrepreneur to carve out a large enough chunk of time to complete an entire 5-year growth plan in one sitting. You are, after all, not a corporation with hundreds of employees who can ensure the organization’s work continues while you’re off on a 3-day planning retreat. Plus, complete and exhaustive planning is not an activity we recommend for the already busy and overwhelmed entrepreneur. It’s time-consuming, draining, and quickly obsolete, given the pace of change in business today. 

However, we have found a highly effective solution for devising your road map. It is influential not only in creating your plan but also in executing your desired intention. 

Enter the mighty micro-movement!

Coined by a gifted entrepreneur, the micro-movement is a short stroke of activity. It’s one minor step in the right direction, one rung up the ladder. To repeat a well-known phrase, “it’s eating an elephant one bite at a time.” It’s baby steps toward your goal. 

How do you productively apply a micro-movement? First, you use the “cracks of time” currently existing in your day. 

“Cracks of time” are micro periods. For instance, it may be 15 minutes between meetings while you’re waiting on hold or when a project concludes on budget and ahead of schedule. 

One of our favorite “cracks of time” at Synnovatia is when a meeting reschedules at the last minute. So rather than fill our calendar with minor tasks, we use the opportunity to march one more micro movement closer to the finish line. 

You’ll be astonished at how quickly you’ll have sketched out your future by breaking down your growth planning into one question — one micromovement — at a time. 

In addition, the seemingly slower pace of development will help you gain perspective. When you stand back and look over your projections, you can decide, with greater certainty, if your blueprint will bring you the joy, fulfillment, and goals you want to achieve.

The mighty micro-movement. It’s how you get from where you are to where you want to go — and it’s a game changer for entrepreneurs. 

Ask any entrepreneur about annual business planning for their business and you’ll immediately be met with eye rolls. If we’re honest, it’s one of the few pieces of business ownership most entrepreneurs would rather avoid. Yet, it’s likely one of the most important pieces of business development as you head into a new year.

Your annual business evaluation and planning adventure (I do encourage you to see it as an adventure.) sets the tone and direction for the upcoming year. Done thoughtfully, it provides insight into trends that may impact your business and changes to consider in the year ahead.

It’s the perfect business reboot!

end-of-year assessment

End-of-Year Assessment & Planning: A Big Deal Vs. a Big Ordeal

Whatever you do, avoid making it a big ordeal. Any project that “feels” big and unyielding tends to be avoided for as long as possible. And, we all know what happens with delaying action…

Additionally, make sure your plans for the year ahead are based on facts and data rather than conjecture.

1. Set your intention for your assessment/planning adventure. Just like “going to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving” gives us a framework for preparation, establishing an objective equips you to achieve your desired outcome.

2. Schedule planning time and location. I don’t know about you but talking about doing something doesn’t get it done. Blocking time on your calendar certainly does increase the likelihood of it happening — especially if treated with the same respect you would any important meeting.

If you need an uninterrupted, undisturbed assessment/planning experience, consider finding a nice Airbnb away from the office.

3. Pack your bags. With your intention set, consider the information you’ll need to gather in advance of your assessment/planning time.

4. Dig in. This can certainly be easier said than done. For that reason, we created this handy, dandy year-end business assessment and planning worksheet for you.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with two additional points:

  • remain as objective as possible during the assessment phase to ensure you’re evaluating business results properly, and
  • refrain from too much detailed planning for the third and fourth quarters of the year. As quickly as business is evolving, you want to remain as agile as possible.

Although you may have to pinch your nose to get through your business appraisal, your ability to think clearly and act boldly in the new year makes it worthwhile.

For a free copy of our end-of-year assessment, log into Eureka. Not only will you find the Think Clearly. Act Boldly. End-of-Year Assessment, you’ll also find some intriguing conversations around planning. 

The first day of the month signals a new beginning. No matter how often I’ve veered off course from my intended plan during the previous month, I get a reboot. No matter the missteps or detours, the slate is wiped clean. It’s my very own entrepreneurial Etch-A-Sketch moment!

For those of you who may not be familiar, the Etch-A-Sketch was one of the most popular toys in my day. I played for hours creating one masterpiece after another. The two knobs on the front face of the Etch-A-Sketch created horizontal and vertical movement. The aluminum powder and plastic beads responded beautifully to each turn of the knob. To master the right-left and up-down movements took genuine skill, patience, and practice.

Growing a business is not unlike creating a work of art using an Etch-A-Sketch. You zig and zag. You go back and repeat. Each little turn adds to the picture. More importantly, you learn which moves work and which ones don’t. When it becomes necessary – when you’ve deviated off course and need a fresh perspective – your built-in eraser system gives you a fresh perspective and an opportunity to begin again.

I love the unblemished start of each month.

What’s your first-day, fresh-start routine that keeps your business on track?

Core Business Assessment

Testimonial

Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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