As we wind down 2022 and move into a new year of opportunity and growth in 2023, it is time to build strategic plans for your family business in the upcoming months and year. Goal setting, establishing timelines, reflecting on 2022, and evaluating priorities and action will support your 2023 plan to be successful.
What struggles do you experience when doing strategic planning?
- Feeling overwhelmed?
- Knowing it needs to be done, but other business activities are prioritized?
- Making plans in the past that haven’t been accomplished?
- You don’t have a system in place to guide you through the process?
- The strategic plan looks good on paper, but gets filed, and forgotten.
Here are 7 valuable strategies to help you develop a productive, ambitious, and measurable plan.
Strategy #1 Set FAST Goals
Goal setting is crucial in strategic planning. If you don’t know what your target is, how you will know if you reached it? How will you know the action steps to take? If you are not clear on your vision, goals, and objectives, business success will not appear by chance. It requires clarity, transparency, some elbow grease, and commitment by the teams and leadership to make it happen.
Most commonly we hear of setting SMART goals, but I would encourage you to use FAST goals when developing your goals and objectives for 2023.
What are FAST Goals?
Frequently reviewed – set it and forget it does not apply to goal setting. To be agile as an organization, leadership must regularly assess goals to make sure they remain viable, responsive to the changing marketplace, and can incorporate new information and learnings.
Ambitious – from ambition we stimulate motivation, something to strive for.
Specific- this will allow for accurate, accountable, and measurable goals. For example, if you set a goal to “hire more people” unless you get specific you won’t know what you need, who to hire, what your timelines and how to put it into action. Metrics will come out of this.
Transparent – visible within and across teams. This is what makes the FAST goal setting unique and stands out as my preferred tool in strategic planning. It prevents underperformance, and thinking in silos and keeps each individual and team accountable and aligned with the corporate vision and strategies.
Strategy #2 Plan Your Timeline and Outline a Blueprint for Success
Timelines are the practical plan of goal setting. Here are Six Steps for an Effective Timeline
- Project Brief – a summary of the project, goals, and milestones.
- Project Scope – write down each step of the project into specific tasks.
- Estimate Time – how long will it take to do each task?
- Define Task Dependencies – what task needs to happen before another task can begin.
- Establish Milestones – these are the metrics and checkpoints along the way to allow you to assess if your team is on task based on the projections. They will also give you the information you need if you must adjust your future timeline.
- Build the Timeline – map out the scope, time, task dependencies, and milestones into a calendar or project management tool.
Strategy #3 Take Time to Reflect on What Went Right & What Went Wrong in 2022
This strategy will prepare you with the learning and data to evaluate your priorities for 2023 (Strategy #5).
The purpose behind reflection is to learn from past mistakes and successes. You are using this data to align your company’s strategic planning with its vision, mission, and goals. These will assist you in being able to define success in the upcoming year. The experiences of the past year provide a gold mine of information.
How to get started on your reflections
- Gather the company metrics from 2022. These include data reports from the finance, marketing, operations, human resources, research, and development departments.
- Look at the information gathered holistically from all departments, and have the board and leadership review the reports, reflect and discuss.
- Look at the company goals from 2022 – did you achieve them? Some or all of them? Did you challenge yourself and your employees enough? Is your culture nurturing and supportive, clearly defined? Include feedback and thoughts from other members of the strategic planning team as well as department heads.
Success is not always defined by financial growth within a year. Let me explain.
If a well-designed and researched corporate strategy has been put in place to heavily invest in research and development, and new ventures, it can be somewhat like starting a new business. This business strategy may take a few years (and resources) to fiscally take flight, but there is a clear purpose in the decision-making: company longevity, not immediate gains.
Risk and market analysis, and internal resource analysis would be heavily performed over a period of time before embarking on increased operational expenses in those scenarios. Financial viability defines business survival in the long run.
Strategy #4 Perform a SWOT Analysis
Now that you have looked at the past through reflection, you will need to gather data from the present internal and external situation of the company. A simple and effective way to gather this data is by conducting a SWOT analysis.
Strengths – what are your company’s strengths (culture, innovation, history, financial equity, and leadership)?
Weakness – what are your company’s weaknesses (outdated systems and processes, product losing popularity, excess operational expenses, difficulty finding and keeping the right talent, leadership transition challenges)?
Opportunities – what is happening in the market you could tap into (a service or product solution needed that your company can pivot to provide, growth in your industry, new technology to improve your offerings)? Is no one else filling that gap or meeting that customer’s need?
Threats – what is going to make it difficult to sell your product or grow your business? Examples include, your product becoming obsolete as a newer and better version is available from a competitor, the economy – where are people spending their money? Politics – does the current government provide funding in your industry? Are there many competitors offering the same or similar product as you and it is a challenge to differentiate?
Strategy #5 Evaluate Your Priorities & Tasks that Need Attention in 2023
Let’s look at the company tasks due next year.
- What are your goals for the upcoming year? Look at the data you’ve gathered from your past reflections (Strategy #3) and the current SWOT analysis (Strategy #4).
- Prioritize each goal.
- Identify tasks that make the goal actionable.
- What is realistic to achieve based on the one-year timeline, and your human, technological, and skill resources? Ask yourself, are your goals FAST (Strategy #1)?
- What is ambitious to achieve? Would you need to train internally and hire more skilled talent, redesign your business model, and update existing technology?
- Depending on your priority list (and some goals may be dependent on completing other goals first), you may have to choose to set certain goals aside for next year and decide then if they are still relevant at that time.
Strategy #6 Develop a Plan of Action and Get Supportive People Involved in the Process
This is where you rally the troops. A strong leader is open-minded, a strong decision-maker, and knows who to ask for what type of help. A solid plan of action can only be developed when you have done your homework.
Need help developing an action plan? Who are the key support people in your company? A business coach, board of directors, and department heads are generally the go-to people to discuss goal clarity and viability at this stage. Not-for-profit organizations choose board members from varied backgrounds and industries to get different perspectives on the issues at hand. Keep this in mind when you choose your key support people because having different perspectives, skills and experiences is invaluable to a company.
If your family business is smaller, who can you call upon to assist you? Independent advisors such as business coaches, financial advisors, accountants, and family members. If you have a trusted mastermind group you belong to, you could pose questions and problems to the group. Choose people who you communicate well with, are reliable, value their opinion, and trust they have the company’s best interest at heart.
Strategy #7 Document, Communicate & Implement
Our final strategy is to document, communicate and implement.
Goal setting, reflecting, and evaluating can make it easy to get stuck in one’s head and the ideas do not end up on paper and executed. Put the goals and action plans into writing so they are accessible. This will help you remember to use and implement them.
Don’t bury your goal notes in a drawer or a cloud file unless your calendar has the actionable items identified on specific dates from those notes. Plan quarterly meetings just to review goal status and action items for the upcoming quarter, put your list of action items in your calendar, on a visible team Kanban board in the office, or online project management software with team members assigned to specific tasks. Goals are meant to be used and accomplished. A plan is only good as the action that comes out of it.
Sull, D. & Sull, C. (June 05, 2018). With Goals, FAST Beats Smart.MIT Sloan Management Review.
Hennigan, L. & Bottorffy, C. (August 10, 2022). How to Create a Simple, Effective Project Timeline in Six Steps. Forbes Advisor.
Preda, S. & Cleary, G. (2022). Pinnacle: 5 Principles That Take Your Business to the Top of the Mountain. Amershire Publishing, VA.
Moran, B. & Lennington, M. (2013). The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 weeks than Others Do in 12 Months. Wiley Publishers.
Do you need help getting your strategic planning on track in 2023?
I can help you examine, simplify and refresh your current strategy if you find your company has not been reaching its targets (or ambitious enough in goal setting) for 2022. Click the button below for a Discovery Call and let’s chat.
Lunch & Learn – join me for my online November Lunch and Learn on Tues, December 27th @12pm ET. We will be working through a handout to get you started on your company’s one-year plan and quarterly goals using the FAST Goals approach.