The Yearly Dilemma

 By Barbara Eldridge

 Are you keeping up with the pace of change?  The pace of technology? The pace of your marketplace? The pace of your competition?  The Yearly Dilemma is how much do you and your business have to change to keep pace?  As a business owner you need to have information at your finger tips that help you make the best decisions. 

 Planning each year is a hands on process.  You might start by asking some tough questions. 

 Do you recognize the need for change?

Are you prepared to look reality in the face?

Are you willing to change the way you do business – and change        yourself?

Will you turn the plan into action?

Do you have the guts to take your business in new directions?

 I would like to lay out a road map that will get you to view your business through a lens that eliminates the distortions of everyday business.  Let me warn you, you may not like what you see.  But if you are going to meet the year head on it is a necessary process.  Let’s look at what a strategic plan could do for you.

            1. Develop a statement of purpose.  Why does your business exist?

Sometimes why we started the business is not the same as why we continue to work it.  One of my long time clients over the years has added staff, and possibly her successor, so that now she can travel more.  The business was started so she could support her family.

            2. Conduct a SWOT analysis.  This will help you evaluate your business’ internal strengths and weaknesses, along with the opportunities and threats you face in the market place.  It will give you a basis for developing a plan.

            3. Crystallize your thinking – Determine what specific long range goals you want for your business.  It is never enough to just want more money.  They should cover all aspects of the business.

            4. Create benchmarks, with specific results for meeting those goals.  It is easier to make adjustments along the way without losing sight of the long range goals.

            5. Brainstorm strategies for reaching each of the results.  There is more than one way to achieve a result, ask others for ideas.

            6. Develop a Plan of Action.  Plan the progressive steps, along with who will do what when.  Nothing ever happens without action, but there is a world of difference between mere action and constructive action.

            7. Be confident in yourself and your own abilities.  Be determined to follow through on your plan, because without determination the plan will deteriorate.

 The 8th step is to track your progress.  Write out your numbers (yes I said write), know your sales number, gross profit, cost of goods/time.  It is a sure way of staying focused. 

 The Challenge: Turn the yearly dilemma into a solid strategic plan.  If you need help, Mind Masters has a Planning sessions each quarter, check it out at