Benjamin Franklin famously said, “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”
This holds true in business just as much as it does in life. If you want to get ahead in making your plan for 2024, now’s the time! Here are five ways to ensure the one you create is successful.
- Take the time to work on your business.
As business leaders, we often get consumed in day-to-day happenings. But it’s important to pull back so you have time to work on the business instead of always in it. To do this, surround yourself with trusted and talented professionals who support you and can manage and operate your business. It also helps to physically change your environment (read: get out of your office), which signals to your brain that you’re working on strategic, high-level thinking versus tactical execution.
- Involve all the right stakeholders.
I can’t stress enough the importance of gathering all your stakeholders together in one place. Gaining input from those who are actually invested in making your business a success is crucial. This could include your executive and senior leadership teams, people leaders, board members and investors. This ensures that your stakeholders can provide feedback on short- and long-term goals as well as the best way to achieve them.
- Have top-down and bottom-up plans.
Many leaders make the mistake of using a top-down approach in their plans without ever consulting with the actual people they charge with executing it. But having a completely bottom-up plan doesn’t work either because it skews too tactical without aligning with strategic initiatives. Instead, the best (and ultimately, most successful) plans blend a top-down strategy with a bottom-up approach to make it happen.
As part of your planning process, have your teams prepare both. For example, your ELT might create a high-level plan that calls for 30% growth, but your people leaders may have one that presents a more viable method to grow by 20%. By working together, you can come back with a plan that includes “stretch” but has a solid approach to executing it. Yes, it’s more work upfront, but having a plan that works for all is worth it.
- Remember, it’s about more than numbers.
Your 2024 plan is not just a financial forecast; it’s about the health of your business.
This is a chance to reflect on what worked well last year, what didn’t and why—and what changes you’ll make next year across all aspects of your business. And remember that success isn’t measured solely in dollars. Instead, review your people, culture, lessons learned, opportunities, projects and innovations to ensure you balance the numbers with the right values and policies to meet your targets.
- Don’t forget to have fun with it.
There’s no getting around it: Planning can be stressful and messy and is never perfect. It’s a process that requires you to use facts and your gut to predict the future and create the best plan you can for it.
But if you lean into it, you’ll see that it’s such a great time to roll up your sleeves with your team to get it done and then come together to blow off steam. However your planning process went, you got through it—and that’s a reason to celebrate.
When you’re finished with your planning, take your team out to celebrate and have a blast giving credit and kudos to one another. It’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come and look forward to your exciting future.
As the CEO of a billion-dollar unicorn business that’s doubled its revenue every year since 2013 and has been part of the Inc. 5000 for the last four years, I understand the value of effective business planning and swear by these five recommendations. And if you apply them to your planning process, you can create a successful 2024 plan, too.