Business goals

9 essential steps to define your business goals for 2020

As we move into the fourth quarter of 2019, now is a great time to develop your strategic plan. With next year not only the start of a new decade, but also a number that represents clarity of vision, what better time to develop a plan that will take your organization to the next level of success?

The challenge is how to build a plan that is ambitious enough to inspire, but practical enough to be implemented. Here are nine things you should consider doing with your leadership team during your planning process this year.

1. Remember Q4.

Since you’re eagerly awaiting a fresh start in the New Year, it’s easy to sidestep your performance in the third trimester and your goal in the fourth. Don’t give yourself that pass. Make sure you are ruthless about your successes and failures of the past three months, and focus your team on the 3-5 things that need to happen by the end of the year. If you’ve had a killer Q3 of sales, be sure to dig deep into the reasons for your success and double those for the coming quarter. Perhaps you botched the deployment of a product. Make sure you capture your lessons learned and make a plan to address them over the next 90 days.

2. Review the past year.

Once you’ve got into the last 12 weeks of the year, then raise your horizon to the year in its entirety. Start by asking everyone on your team the top 2-3 things that went well in their department this year and what 2-3 things they would do differently. Write their ideas down on flipcharts, then transfer them to a shared document to have them in one place. Take a moment to review your team’s successes throughout the year. This gives you the necessary impetus for your discussion for the next year.

3. Dust off your vision.

It is essential to define your planning for the next year in the context of your overall vision. Any goals or strategies you set for 2020 should actively contribute to achieving your long-term vision. This provides a lucky North Star for your planning work. If your vision seems outdated or ineffective, maybe it’s time to dust it off. The easiest way to test your vision is to ask these three questions

  • Is it easy to understand? (Could a 9-year-old understand?)
  • Does this excite you and your team?
  • Does this describe why your team exists?

4. Set your annual goal.

Decide what your top one to three goals are for the next year. Remember that achieving these goals should be a clear indication that you are moving closer to achieving your vision. Maybe there’s a financial goal, maybe market share, potentially customer satisfaction. In general, goals with quantitative measures are easier to follow and therefore more achievable. For example, “50% loyal customer rate” as a goal is easier to measure than “Provide good customer service”.

5. Brainstorm your strategic initiatives.

Divide the team into groups of 3 to 5 and give each of them a goal for the year. Ask them to think of 3 to 5 strategic initiatives that would help you move closer to this goal. A strategic initiative is a targeted project for this year that will complement the achievement of this annual goal. If you are successful in executing your strategic initiatives, you should be fairly certain of reaching your annual goal.

6. Prioritize your initiatives.

It would be great if we could successfully implement all the big strategic ideas that we have. The reality is that most teams work with limited resources. This means you need to prioritize the strategic initiatives ahead of you. Group them into the “must do” and “fun to do” categories. If there are priorities that may be competing for resources, agree which ones are most important. Then finalize your list.

7. Agree on responsibility.

For each initiative, ask the group to agree who will be responsible for implementation. If you have time, ask them to identify the key milestones of the year that you need to take to complete the initiative.

8. Develop a communication plan.

Agree, as a group, on what needs to be communicated across the organization, who will deliver it, and when it needs to happen. A town hall-style meeting with all employees is a great way to kick off a new strategic plan. However, it should be followed by individual leaders sharing the plan in a smaller setting with only their team. Consistency and repeatability are the key to a successful communication plan.

9. Define how you are going to make the adjustments.

Finally, to try to prevent your strategic plan from being put in a drawer to collect dust and be forgotten, agree on the next revision. On top of that, make sure you’ve agreed to a process for making changes to your plan as the year progresses.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.