Hello friends. Today begins one of my favorite weeks of the year; planning for the year to come. I thought I’d give you a little behind the scenes glimpse into all that goes on during our weekly planning. Every company is different and the process here has changed and evolved over the years but sometimes getting a little glimpse into how others do this can be helpful for planning for your own business.
As I said, my yearly planning process has evolved over the years and I’d like to think it’s gotten better as I’ve learned from the experience about what works for us and what doesn’t. This year I have broken the phases down by day to keep things as organized as possible and I’d like to share a bit about that with you today.
All of my yearly planning begins with a review of the past year. I take a deep dive into all the wins and losses and compare the goals for the year with what was actually accomplished. I took a look at the revenue goals compared to what was actually accomplished as well as launches, leads, stats, analytics and all the data that helps determine how well we did.
The last major piece of the review is the strategic plan that had already been established. The current strategic plan is a three year plan and 2023 is year 2. A review of that to make sure it’s still relevant and driving our goals is important but this is something we reference in our quarterly reviews as well so it’s pretty familiar and often pretty up to date.
At the end of Day 1 we usually take a bit of time to set up the new forms and folders for the coming year.
Of course this is a generalization of what all is actually part of the review but this gives you an idea of what we do here at Raspberry Creative.
Day 2 begins with a recap of the review and then begins the formulation of the ideas for goals for the coming year based on the review from the day before and the strategic plan. The strategic plan piece was something that was missing for many years but once we began establishing this “big picture” plan to span 3-5 years, it no longer felt like we were randomly picking new goals for each year without any actual direction.
With the strategic plan and the review of where we ended up in the previous year, knowing what goals to focus on for the coming year because so much easier and makes it a lot easier for everyone to know what drives those goals and where we are heading in the future.
At this stage, we don’t get too detailed into the tasks that will help us achieve the goals, we are still just looking at the “big picture” at this stage.
With a general outline of the goals for the coming year, we let things rest and move on to setting up the calendar for the coming year by filling in holidays, days off and any vacation time that is already planned. This gives a much clearer picture of just how many work days there will be in the year as we begin mapping out the strategies and tasks to achieve the yearly goals.
Day 3 begins by fine tuning the goals for the year and outlining the strategies to accomplish those goals. I don’t get too detailed yet with scheduling tasks, I just create a general outline. I try to stick to around three main goals for the year making sure I list them as SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based.
I then begin narrowing down the timetable for when I want each goal of the strategies under them to be achieved if it’s other than the end of the year.
For example, this coming year we will be continuing our brand awareness campaign by overhauling our lead magnets, redesigning some marketing pieces and through some new promotional posts we’ll be sharing on social media just to name a few. The overarching goal is “brand awareness” which will be a year long effort but the pieces under that will have deadlines throughout the year.
Day 4 is about collecting all the puzzle pieces. By this, I mean we look at our goals and the strategies we have outlined and then start planning content for everything from social media to the blog, email marketing, product design and so on. This is a big job but because I already have my major dates marked out for launches, and goals, it is usually pretty easy to come up with enough content topics to fill most of the year.
We don’t actually write social media posts or blog posts or even email newsletters but through the calendar that we’ve already highlighted our big dates, we can usually begin filling in topics throughout the year which gives us a general roadmap for the year.
Day five is about plugging everything into the calendar. Of course I can’t plan down to the day, but by this time it is usually pretty easy to break things down by quarter and even by month in some cases. For the blog, for example, I can usually plan the topics for the entire year so that goes pretty quickly.
We literally plug working titles into our content calendar for every blog post for the year as well as general topics for social media in that calendar. This includes promotional content for launches or sales (something we also plan in advance).
After these five days, I generally have a pretty solid plan for the business for the year. Of course we’ve learned that no plan ever goes exactly as you think and that’s OK. Again, this is just a roadmap to guide us throughout the year so we always know what we are working toward. Things happen, life gets in the way and sometimes even new goals take over as things change. Staying flexible is one thing I’ve learned is a must.
Typically by the end of day 5, much of the yearly planning is complete. Because of our workload this year and time I’ve missed lately due to some needs of my family, we’ve extended our yearly planning into next week to make sure we get through everything and still give us time this week to serve our valued clients and customers.
Hopefully this gives you a little glimpse into how we plan the business year after year and maybe even give you some ideas on how to plan for your own business. If you have other ideas or go about things differently in your own business, I’d love to hear about it. This is a process I enjoy and am always looking for ways to make it better! Leave your comments or questions below.