Did you spend the end of 2015 planning for 2016? Maybe you waited until January 2016. If you have not planned (in writing) for 2016 please know that I am giving you the frown face image right now! For those of you that have a written plan, how is going? If you stuck it in a drawer or left or have not opened it up since you closed the file, it’s time to review!
We are nearing the end of the first quarter and it is time to review. I suggest that you review your strategic plan every three months. If you have not done so, set a meeting with yourself and a couple of business friends/partners and conduct an assessment.
You have to know where you stand.
Every strategic plan should have a set of actionable items. If you do not have any timelines and deadlines to get things done your plan is not very strategic. This is not a to-do list in its traditional sense, but a list of actionable items that get you closer to your goal. Therefore, you should be able to look at your plan and determine what you have and have not accomplished.
Once you have determined where you are, you can now figure out why you are there. What have you accomplished and when did you accomplish it? What things have not been accomplished and why? Are there internal or external reasons for achieving or not achieving your goals? Internal reasons would be those that are within your control (yes, that means your employees' accomplishments or non-accomplishments). External reasons would be, things that are not within your control.
Adjust and readjust
Notice I said to adjust, not quit! Do not abandon things that are not working at this point. Some things need time to take hold, so if some of your plan is not going the way you want it to, adjust. If the reason for not accomplishing a goal is internal, then you know where the blame lies and you should know what is necessary to fix it. If the problem is external, there can be many solutions (or none) and you just have to wait until the environment is more favorable to your plan.
For example, if you are a real estate agent and the housing market is beginning to fall flat, you cannot do anything about that. Does that mean that you no longer can sell houses? No, of course not, it just means that you will have to adjust your sales focus (commercial vs. residential?) to deal with the external factors.
If you are accomplishing certain goals, great! Keep going. Ask yourself, what is making this particular area shine while other areas are not. Can you apply some of those same things to the trouble areas? If not, can you do more to increase the positive areas of your business to compensate? Ask yourself some tough questions, or have other’s ask you. Self-assessment is key to making your strategic plan work!
Make new goals and timelines!
If you did not make certain goals, it does not mean you should cross it off your list. Maybe you did not make your goals during the first quarter, but you can do it in the second and double it! If you did better than expected, do it again! Adjust your goals to show the increase.
Try your best not to push certain things back unless you have to. If something is realistically not going to happen within your previously timeline, push it back. However, if something could occur, but you are pushing it back because you do not want to focus on it, then keep the goal. The ultimate result would mean pushing yourself past your comfort zone into better results for 2016.
Once you have made the necessary adjustments, do not hide your strategic plan. Out of sight, out of mind! I personally like to add goals and miles stones to my calendar. You can also make a calendar and place it in your work space. You do not have to keep the entire plan out where everyone can see, but you certainly want to have the results portion posted somewhere where it stays fresh in your mind.
There is no point in spending the time making a strategic plan if you are not going to use it. Look forward setting your quarterly assessment and working toward your year-end goals.
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.