There’s Just One Quarter Left In 2023 — How Are You Approaching Annual Planning?
It’s already October. I can’t believe it. The leaves outside my window are rapidly turning from green to gold, the sign of another year coming to an end.
Being a business owner, I try my best to not get too caught up in what’s behind us. Forging ahead keeps me from dwelling on the small stuff. But as we’ve officially entered the last quarter of the year, a certain amount of reflection is necessary in order to ensure that what lies ahead for Formada isn’t by happenstance.
I’m a planner. Our team is more or less composed of planners. It’s what makes our group so successful. And I believe that having a roadmap is an essential tool for any organization that has big goals and is serious about achieving them.
I also believe that a formal annual planning process is the perfect vehicle for aligning (or realigning) your team with your business’s purpose, values, and goals, as well as constructively reflecting on past performance so we can make meaningful refinements and continuously improve how we deliver our services.
There are lots and lots of ways you can do this. What’s best for you will differ depending on the structure of your organization, but this is how we approach it. There might be a few ideas that spur your imagination.
Make Real Time for Your Business’s Annual Planning Meeting
This isn’t just another meeting. This is an opportunity for your team to get together and have a discussion that turns words into action.
Consider booking a venue that gets everyone in a new and inspiring environment. Order catering for lunch. Bring lots and lots of snacks. And don’t skimp on the coffee.
To be clear: This isn’t a team building exercise, but it is a meeting designed to strengthen your team. It’s your chance to show up as a leader and set the tone for last quarter while establishing your vision for the coming year.
Set an agenda. Break the day up into clear sections. Make room for other leaders in the organization to speak on behalf of their teams, and leave plenty of room for discussion.
Bring notepads and pens and items like chewing gum and even small containers of play-doh. The latter might seem silly, but this is a potentially day-long event, and the goal is to keep everyone’s minds active. Besides, who doesn’t like making a play-doh worm?
The point is, you’re creating an environment. One where you can step back and work on the business vs. in the business for a change. And this is a very good thing. So make it special.
Essential Things To Discuss In Your Annual Planning Meeting
Your Mission Statement
Mission statements can trigger a lot of eye-rolling, but I think that’s because they get so misused. Or rather, they get created and then never used at all.
Our mission at Formada is to help our clients achieve their business goals by providing them with the digital marketing strategies they need, the personalized approach to service they deserve, and a level of partnership they’ve always wanted.
This mission helps keep us focused. Is everything that we’re doing in support of that mission? Why or why not?
If you don’t have a mission statement, then it’s worth asking your individual team members to write down what they believe the business’s mission is. Read them aloud. Do this without judgment.
You’ll be surprised by how different the responses will be. But you’ll have a place to start in crafting your mission.
Your Vision Statement
What do you want to accomplish in the coming year? What do you want to accomplish in the next five?
This is where you can really inspire the team, and motivate them to come to work every day with a new sense of purpose. It’s critical to help your team understand how their individual contributions directly impact the business — how their contributions to the mission and the financial health of the organization.
Be bold! Think big. Create a vision that your people are excited by, and then challenge everyone to turn that vision into incremental, accomplishable goals that you can actually achieve in next year.
Revisit this frequently. Just like with your mission statement, make your vision central to the way your business operates. Keep showing up, and you’ll turn this vision into reality.
How do the numbers really look? What is your 2023 revenue performance? What is your projected growth for 2024?
Financial discussions, in people’s personal and professional lives, can often feel uncomfortable, but I believe that stems from a lack of understanding. Your team deserves to know what’s happening in the company from a financial perspective.
This doesn’t mean sharing every detail of your financial situation, but it is another way to illustrate how the different players on your team contribute to the company’s financial health. No one is just completing tasks and mysteriously receiving a paycheck. Their work has an impact.
This will likely be incredibly empowering for the people on your team who have felt disconnected from this part of the business. New ideas will arise. New habits will form. It will lead to better things.
You gotta look under the hood. Is everything running as smoothly as it should be? Are there new investments in people, software, or otherwise that you need to make in the coming year in order to operate more efficiently and reach your goals?
Have you created key performance indicators so you can measure your performance?
What did the organization do really well in 2023? What are some areas of opportunity? What do you need to start doing in 2024, what can stay the same, and what do you need to stop doing in order to realistically achieve your goals?
At Formada, Garrett is continuously working with the team to make things more efficient. This means that we can all focus more on the work so that we can deliver better products and services to our clients, which means better results for their businesses.
It should come as no surprise that we think that your marketing should be a direct contributor to your business’s revenue. It should be creating opportunities for the business to attract new customers.
While not all marketing efforts create the same results, your marketing tactics should be contributing to a unified marketing strategy.
Broadly speaking, are you happy with your ROI? Are there tactics you want to invest more in? Are there opportunities you feel like you’re missing?
Is your marketing team or agency recommending ways to improve your performance by refining your strategy? Is the brand in good shape, or is it worth considering a brand refresh?
Set Goals. Revisit Them Frequently. Hold Each Other Accountable.
At the end of your annual planning day, you’ll likely have had some very exciting discussions and will have created a detailed plan of how you can make 2024 an incredible year for your business.
That’s great! And now this is where the real work begins. Because this day wasn’t just talk. You’re creating a real plan. Now it’s time to make it real.
There’s nothing more dispiriting than investing time in a bold new vision and then just abandoning it for the way things have always been.
Include your goals, your KPIs, and things that pertain to your mission and vision central to future meetings. Include them in your one-on-one discussions. Hold each other accountable. You’ll all show up with a different level of energy. You accomplish incredible things.
And I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way!