Though the trees are dormant right now, there is still growth going on below the surface. You should think of your business in the same terms--business growth planning now will lead to business growth successes later this year. January is a great time to create business growth and/or marketing plans. (I believe September and October are the perfect times to begin planning for the next year, but that'll be a topic for another post.) Before we jump into planning for this new year, however, there's an important step to take first: reviewing the previous year. Here are some questions to ask regarding your business results for the past year:
What were total sales? By segment or product? Were sales greater than or less than the previous period, and by how much?
What worked particularly well (new product, marketing initiative, etc.) last year?
What didn't work as well as we had planned for?
What new business or revenue opportunities "jumped out at us" last year?
What business weaknesses (be it staffing, web site, etc.) also jumped out at us, in terms of needing to develop or improve?
Once you have specific answers to the just-asked questions, you can begin to move forward with your planning for the coming year.
Next time: 2008 Planning