Planning is never fun or easy for that matter. But before we know it, the holiday season will quickly come to a close, and we will find ourselves in the throes of yet another hectic business year once again. For many of you wearing multiple hats, it might feel difficult to catch your breath. That’s where leveraging annual business plans give your company a blueprint for success can help. They are an essential roadmap, established weeks or months in advance, that addresses what success looks like for your company and how to get there. They can help you better prepare and, more importantly, stay on course to achieve your objectives. Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating your 2024 business plan.

Identify your goals

No two businesses are exactly alike. So, what is your business looking to achieve? It could be increased sales, expanding into new regions, or introducing new and improved service offerings. It may even be finding new ways to fend off stiff competition or improve customer satisfaction. Whatever your focus, stay true to the challenges you are looking to overcome – in both the short term and long term. Best practices suggest looking at your current year in review and identifying areas of improvement. What went right? What didn’t? This retrospective approach allows businesses to assess their existing roadblocks and establish goals in support of tackling those challenges, and, ultimately, helps keep your business plan on track.

Get input from key stakeholders

Honest feedback can drive improvement. So engage your workforce to get their input. Ask questions – like “Is our current field service software working for us?”. After all, if you are going to invest time to implement and execute a business plan – shouldn’t your stakeholders see the value in it? In doing so, you will be including their input and will take another big step to ensure your business goals impact your employees, and pays dividends for others within your business.

Set tangible benchmarks

The only thing worse than not having a business plan is not setting realistic milestones and timelines for your objectives. Achieving some of your aspirations might only take a few days or weeks, while others could require months or years. By setting realistic deadlines for your plan, you can ensure your business stays on track. Establish weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual objectives by employee, department, or task. Periodically check in on these timeframes to gauge your progress. Prioritize the most meaningful goals and educate your employees on how and why we are tackling these objectives.

Don’t be afraid of change

Times change… so should you. And while your business plan should be your overall playbook and guiding light on “how to win in 2024,” don’t etch it in stone. It’s inevitable that new challenges will surface that weren’t on your radar when first putting your plan together. Don’t overcomplicate things. Adding flexibility to your plan should be embraced. Identify key, non-negotiable goals, as well as lower-level objectives that could be tabled or delayed should higher priorities arise. It’s far more effective to tweak your current plan as you go, rather than blindly pursuing the same goals without paying respect to how your market, business, or customers have changed.