With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s easy to get swept up in what may be your busiest time of the year and forget all about next year’s business plan until January. But if you can put aside some time now to review you current position and start thinking about how to make next year even better, you will give yourself a head start …and something to celebrate in the New Year.
We’ve all been so focused on cutting costs and concentrating on the core business to survive, that the creativity has gone out of the business planning process. Creative ideas can give businesses a competitive edge, so now is the perfect time to follow these four steps and put some blue-sky thinking back into your 2016 business plan.
Do the essentials first…analyse sales, profit and national economic data to track trends and forecast 2016 sales based on current business.
Complete a SWOT analysis to identify ways to improve current products or services and identify market gaps and opportunities for new ones.
Once you’ve identified the opportunities, set aside some time for a creative ideas session. Include staff members from all departments. Those at the customer facing end of the business can often provide valuable insights into customer needs and expectations. Including them in the planning process will have the additional benefit of improving motivation and job satisfaction.
Encourage everyone to contribute by asking questions:
What? What if? How? Where? When? Why? Why not?
Even the most outlandish ideas can spark something of real value, so don’t dismiss them too quickly.
And most of all….have some fun exploring all the possibilities!
When you’ve completed Step 3, go back to Step 1 and re-assess your sales forecasts including the estimated revenue from the new opportunities. Don’t forget to increase the marketing budget to cover the cost of promoting your new or improved products or services.
If you’re struggling to think beyond the familiar, or running a business on your own and need some help with your creative thinking, bringing in a consultant with a fresh perspective may be just what you need. If you’d like some help with your plans for 2016, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackie Wilson Dip.M MCIM Chartered Marketer
Jackie is a Chartered Marketer, Doncaster 100 Mentor and Yorkshire Business Collective Advisor with extensive management experience across a wide range of industry sectors and a passion for delivering effective marketing solutions.