Plan for Success in 2017 - Make the Most of Your Quiet Time

Are the Christmas holidays a quiet time of year for your business? Although a bit of quiet time can be a welcome chance to take a break it is also an ideal time to plan for the year ahead.

Think about how things went in 2016 what went well, what can you improve and what you can do differently. This will help you plan for the year ahead and make 2017 a great year for your business.

You can break this process down into 3 simple steps – Review, Interpret and Plan.


Review


How did the year go for you? How does this compare to the year before?

Sales – how were your sales overall, how did this compare to 2015 and, how did this vary across the year?

Products – what were your best and worst selling products or services, the most popular, the most profitable? Any seasonal trends?
Promotion – how did you promote your business to new and existing customers, was there a particular campaign that worked well, what media did you use e.g. social media, magazines and which were the most successful.
Customers – how many customers did your business have across the year, did they find what they were looking for? Were these new customers or existing customers, did they spend more or less with your business than previously, did new customers come back for more?
Costs – What are your greatest costs and how does your expenditure deliver a good return on the investment. Think about time spent on different activities as well as money.
Website – if your business has a website do you have any data on visits and user behaviour? If so how many people visited and what pages did they visit most? This can provide a fantastic insight into your customer interests and areas for improvement on your site.Depending how much information you have there may be areas of the review that are not so easy. If you find that a lot of your review comes from guesswork then part of your plan should include how to gather better information for next year.


Interpret


Think about everything you covered in your review and reasons for what you identified. For example if a promotional campaign didn’t work as well as expected was the information clear enough? Did your message reach the target audience in the right place at the right time? Were you using the right communication channel? Also was there anything you did differently as a business that could explain the findings in your review?

Don’t forget to consider factors external to your business, for instance did any rival businesses open in the area? If so were they selling similar products to you and what prices do they charge.

Plan


Now you have considered how your year went, what went well/ not so well and why, you can think about what could be done differently and what you want to achieve next year. How you achieve these goals will depend on what you have interpreted from your review – for instance if you identified customer retention as a weakness for your business you might consider introducing a loyalty scheme or alternatively spending more time training your staff to make sure customers have a positive experience.

Consider next year’s business environment – Will conditions for your business be different to this year? Any new threats or opportunities? If for instance you know that a rival store is opening or has recently opened nearby, how will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Alternatively if you know that more of your customers are using Facebook than before then this could be an opportunity to connect with them better and you may decide to invest more time into doing so.

Best of luck with your planning and here's hoping for a successful new year!