7 Business Plan Tips for a Successful Start to The New Year

Nadav Shemer
Business Plan Tips
There’s an old maxim that says a business has 2 choices: to grow or die. Traditionally this has meant revenue growth, but it can be interpreted in other ways. Growth can also refer to growing your culture, growing your team, or setting new goals for your business.

As we approach a new year, now is as good a time as any to revise your old business plan or write a new one using project management software. Making a new business plan for 2020 may be just what you need to focus your team on business goals and/or qualify for financing. 

Here we look at 7 things to consider when crafting your 2020 business plan.

1. Do a Review of 2019

Before you can begin to plan 2020, there’s that all-important task of reviewing what went right and wrong in 2019. The annual review can be done before the year is out. 

A good starting point is to ask senior people in your organization to submit a list of 2-3 successes and 2-3 failures in their department. You might also want to ask them to highlight things that they think could be done differently or better in 2020. 

Project management tools are good for this type of group brainstorming activity, because they allow you to share files and comment on each other’s work. 

Once your 2019 review is complete, you have a good base from which to build your 2020 business plan.

2. Set Business Goals

Your 2020 business plan should begin with 2-3 few overarching goals for the year. Your goals could be financial, related to customer acquisition or retention, or really anything else, as long as these goals are consistent with your overall vision for the business.

It’s a good idea to make your business goals quantifiable; that way you can actually measure if you achieve them or not. For example:

  • “40% year-on-year revenue growth” is better than “grow our revenue”
  • “Achieve 25% market share” is better than “beat our competitors”

3. Build a Project Timeline

If we were to draw up a sort of flowchart for your business plan, goals would be the strategic top line. Below that, you need a set of tactics, i.e. projects and initiatives, in order to bring your goals to fruition.

Again, this is where you can call on team leaders and use those file-sharing tools we discussed earlier to encourage them to collaborate and give feedback to one another. One way of doing this is to show team leaders the goals and get each one to suggest 2-3 strategic initiatives consistent with trying to achieve these goals.

Once you’ve settled on project timeline for 2020, it’s time to put the details into your project management software so your team can keep track.

4. Make People Accountable

For every business initiative, make sure there is a person or team that are accountable. 

Martin Zwilling, a veteran startup mentor and investor, says business leaders must act as role models when it comes to getting team members to be accountable.

He says business leaders can demonstrate accountability by sticking to these 5 steps:

  1. Be willing to proclaim that something needs to be done
  2. Accept personal responsibility for tackling an issue
  3. Make positive choices or decisions to act
  4. Think deeply about the consequences of each choice
  5. Set high expectations for yourself and your team

5. Track Your Goals

Creating an annual business plan makes no sense if you don’t track the results. In your document, you will have outlined quantifiable goals for the coming years. Tracking the progress of projects on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis can be a good way of keeping your finger on the pulse without overdoing it.

The team leaders in charge of each project will should be a little more hands-on in terms of tracking progress. Again, project management tools make it easy for department heads to manage and track time, resources, budget, scope, and teams efficiently.

6. Be Clear and Keep It Simple

This is number 6 on our list, but it might be the most important. Unless you’re a one-person show, it’s no good scribbling out your business plan in a way that only you can understand. 

Your business plan provides the foundations for the next year. You can share it with your team. You can use it as the basis for a business loan application. You and your team may want to refer back to it from time to time, so it needs to be legible and easy to understand.

7. Be Flexible

No matter how well you plan for the next year, there will always be challenges (and opportunities) that stand in your path. It’s good to have a plan, but you should be flexible enough to improvise the plan when necessary. 

If you’ve been in business for more than 1-2 years, chances are there are parts of your original plan that are no longer relevant. When putting together your 2020 business program, it can be helpful to think of it as a living, breathing document rather than an immutable document that must be obeyed at all costs.

Wishing You and Your Business a Successful 2020 

There you have it: 7 tips to get you started with creating a business plan for the coming year. All that’s left is for us to wish you and your business success in achieving all your 2020 goals.

Nadav Shemer
Nadav Shemer specializes in business, tech, and energy, with a background in financial journalism, hi-tech and startups. He enjoys writing about the latest innovations in financial services and products.