Every January, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind us, many business leaders tend to pivot to a “back to business” mindset, complete with the anxiety-generating thought, “What about that annual business plan I never got around to writing?”  Indeed, January seems to pass by quickly, and before you blink, 1st Quarter is halfway over.  To have a chance at hitting Q1 goals and setting a great tone for the new year, you need to move quickly. Here’s a structure for a quick-and-dirty New Year business plan you could handwrite on a single sheet of notebook paper.

  • What Happened Last Year?

    Jot down the key things that happened to your business over the past year.  (You can refine it later.) You may already be close to your financial results but also think through the non-financial performance results (e.g., customer satisfaction, fill rate, etc. – specific to your business) that impacted you last year. Try to be as specific as possible, even if it takes a little time to chase down the exact numbers from others in the organization. This will set you up well for the later steps.

  • What Did You Learn Last Year?

    Beyond the financials and performance results, what insights about your business, your internal capabilities, your competitors, and most especially your customers did you learn over the past 12 months? Your insights about your business and your customers help you differentiate from the competition.  And yet, most businesses skip this step entirely.  Try to spend a little bit of time in thought and contemplation over this. Ask yourself: “What specific insights or experiences can help me gain an edge this year?”

  • What Do You Want to Happen This Year?

    Grounded in our recent learnings, it is time to turn our attention to the year ahead.  Looking at last year’s performance, decide what success looks like to you for next year. Again, these goals can be both financial and non-financial. (The most successful companies track both types of goals.)

    And don’t forget to make these “SMART” goals. There are many definitions of the SMART acronym out there, but the ones businesses tend tend to use is: Specific, Measurable, Aligned (with long-term strategy), Realistic, and Time-Bound. 

    Make sure that every goal you set has each of these elements.  And also, challenge yourself to do less this year.  Sometimes, less is more – attempting to do fewer things better is often a more successful approach than running the risk of spreading yourself too thin.

  • What Do I Need To Do to Achieve Those Goals? 

    A goal without a way to achieve it is less than worthless. For every one of your goals, think through a high-level strategy and a step-by-step action plan (with rough milestone timing) to make it happen. You don’t need to write a novel, but you do need to provide enough detail to guide yourself and your team when the ideas aren’t as fresh in your head.

  • How Can I Stay On Track?

    The point of your newly-crafted plan is not to sit in a folder or gather dust. Set check-ins for yourself and your team in a time frame that makes sense. Scheduling a quarterly review of the overall plans is usually a good idea.  And if, later in the year, you find yourself off-track on any of your goals, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, determine what it would take to course-correct yourself toward the success you originally envisioned. Allow yourself to factor in what you know to reframe your going-in plan and target something realistic based on what you know.

Rather than write a drawn-out conclusion paragraph, I’m going to implore you instead to pull out your pad and pen and get started right now.  Start jotting down rough thoughts. You can crystallize them later. But bear in mind – any planning at all that you’re able to do is going to be 100% better than no plan at all. 


If getting ahead of your staffing needs is part of your goals for this new year, we can help! Here at Labor Finders, we're dedicated to helping our clients put their best foot forward this year and beyond. Connect with us today to see how we can help you achieve your new year's business goals.


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