If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that plans do not always coincide with reality, or as the famous saying goes: “Man plans and God laughs.” 2020 was not an easy year (to say the least), and despite the coronavirus disrupting our plans – both personally as well as businesswise – it has also made us realize the importance of readjusting to change.
Charles Darwin, the father of the Theory of Evolution, said it best: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives… it is the one that is most adaptable to change.” And if you have yet to internalize this important principle – now is the time.
But if you think there is no longer a need to plan ahead and that all your plans for your business come down to “rolling with the punches” because we do not have enough information on what is happening anyway, let me light your way to a better 2021!
It is true, not all of our business plans came through in 2020. But if you think about it, not everything ran exactly by the book in earlier years either… in fact, life is never exactly the way we expect it to be. Even though we have experienced an extreme version of this in 2020, it doesn’t mean that from now on the smartest thing for your business is to just let things happen, and only think as you go. I can tell you, from my own business experience, that even though this year did not quietly go as I had planned – back at the end of 2019 – most of the goals I set for myself came true; not only that, it was the best year my business ever had.
How did this happen? How is it possible that the coronavirus disrupted all my trips abroad this year, and that I took fewer photos of hotels abroad and in Israel (as a content creator for tourism, this has really been a blow), as well as severely damaged my offers of personal consulting appointments – yet all that did not knock my business down?
The answer is – I successfully prepared my business for 2020!
Yes, not everything went exactly according to my plans, and there were many changes and decisions that were made on the fly (I recommend reading this guide I have written with tips on how to strengthen and solidify your business during crises), but the basis for all the business decisions made this year were uncompromisingly based on the annual plan I’d made before the storm.
So if you still haven’t started preparing your business for the new year, let this post be your inspiration, because it is right around the corner! I have gathered in this guide all the important things you need in order to prepare your business for 2021.
Step one – Summarize the past year
The first thing I suggest you do to get ready for the new year is to summarize this past year. Looking back, you can see what worked for your business this year and what didn’t. Not only that, when taking the time to stop and remove yourself from the race, to get an overview of the business, you are also reminded to celebrate how far you’ve come and the achievements (whether big or small) you’ve had in your business this year. In retrospect, you can find out which goals and objectives you reached this year, which you did not and would like to complete in the upcoming year, and which are no longer relevant for your business. You can decide what changes need to be made (for both your business and yourself) in order to grow.
I love summarizing the passing year while looking at the plan I’d made the year before. This way I can clearly see what I was able to carry out, what worked, what didn’t, and where I stand in terms of income and expenses.
Even if this is the first year you’ve done it – don’t worry! Make yourself a cup of coffee, open a notebook or a file on the computer and start writing down your expectations of the passing year; what good things you accomplished, what you felt was lost; what you would like to improve, and what you would like to keep; what your income and expenses were (you might have to use your accountant for that, in case you do not manage your own finances). Yes, it would not be as accurate as working with a previously-made file, but hey, next year you’ll have an annual goal plan that you can use 😉
Here are a few examples of parameters you should notice as a small business owner:
- Traffic – How many users visited your site in a certain period.
- Income vs. Expenses – How much money you made this year.
- Engagement – What is the community’s engagement with your blog and social media (comments, private messages, likes, etc.)
- Social Followers – How many followers you have on your active platforms.
- Leads – How many potential leads you picked up in a certain period.
- Subscribers – How many people subscribed to your newsletter.
- Purchasing Channels – Where did your clients come from and what worked.
An overview of the past year is only important if it is incorporated with an action plan for the upcoming year as well. It is important to take the time and relax, think about the year about to end. With that being said, if you want to make the best of the past year’s review, you have to use it in order to make an action plan for the upcoming year. This is exactly what leads me to the next stage.
Step two – Preparing a clear goal plan for next year
Defining goals is one of those things many of us are trying to escape. We might know what we want to achieve, but mostly those goals remain vaguely in our heads and we are too afraid to write them down. We are sometimes too afraid to believe that we can achieve our great dreams, in case we encounter difficulties along the way or fail to do so. In order for us to get closer to our dreams and goals, it is important that we first know what we actually want to achieve.
It is easy to think that we want to make a lot of money, gain recognition, or many followers… but have you really dug in to understand what your heart really desires? Most importantly, why do you want all these things?
Before you write down “I want to make X money” or “reach Y followers on Instagram”, you have to dive in and create a few goals that are personally unique for you. These goals will be based on your values and the values behind your business and they will eventually better guide you in writing down your practical business goals for the upcoming year.
So before you do anything, take a deep breath. It is your time to reconnect with your “why”.
You may have started a blog or created a small business out of your bedroom… perhaps your business isn’t that small anymore, but this year you really want to give it a good kick forward.
Whichever of the following alternatives are right for you, first understand your “why”.
- Why is this important for you?
- Why is this something you aspire to achieve?
- What does it mean for you to achieve these goals?
It sounds simple, but it will possibly take you a long time to do!
Your “why” is your basic reason for everything you do. What is it that drives you forward? What is the reason you started your business? Who do you want to help and why? Your “why” is what makes you wake up in the morning and do the job, and by reconnecting to it, you can point your business in the right direction next year.
Once you have distilled your “why”, you can more purely write down your business goals for the following year. For instance, if – like in my case – you have found out that your business “why” is:
Helping women realize their business potential while creating financial freedom for me and spending quality time with my family.
That made it easier for me to define the precise goals that would help me reach my objectives more quickly. These goals could be, for example, creating specific content, preparing new products, collaborating with other businesses, etc.
After finding your “why” and defining business goals based on that, you can also describe how you see your typical workday after achieving your end goals. It is good to add emotions and images to the description – it will help you establish your intentions for the following year and increase your motivation and will to achieve them.
Step three – Don’t scatter, plan your initial goals for the first 3 months of the year
What are the three main goals you want to achieve during the new year? This decision will allow you to be focused from the very beginning. Whether your goals are financial or numerical, personal or emotionally-based, choosing a minimal number of objectives will allow you to break them down into actionable stages and start the year off on the right foot.
Once you have your objectives for the first three months of the year, put them into your business planner and divide them into doable tasks. Managing your time better will allow you to reach your goals faster. Take into account that the work on your business will require other daily missions and tasks that do not necessarily have to do with those three big goals, so it is important to set a time for working on the business as a whole, so you won’t get into a situation where you are neglecting the routine work of your business.
Step four – Organize your work environment and patterns
This might sound trivial, but arranging your work environment can be therapeutic and incredibly effective! We tend to do this as we go along throughout the year, but refocused thought about your work environment at the end of the year could help you create a more productive and positive sense, creating readiness for the following year.
When I talk about arranging and organizing your work environment, I am of course talking about the physical aspect of creating a pleasant and organized office (you can find tips on how to arrange your office here), but not just that. Arranging your work environment in the context of habits and work patterns is just as important. Use your insight from the past year’s summary in order to analyze your work environment and patterns and how they affect achieving your goals – are there habits you need to change or improve? Which new habits or routines can you start applying as of next year? I also highly recommend taking a look at my business recommendations page, I am sure you will find a few things there that could really upgrade your work environment.
Step five – Take a break, you’ve earned it
One important thing we business owners seem to forget is that taking care of our health is just as important a task! Life as an independent and business owner can really be hectic and stressful, especially if you are also juggling social and family life. Take some time off at the end of this year to take care of yourself. Book a short vacation or schedule a few relaxing fun days to freshen up. Remember, you can’t be there for anybody else if you are not first there for yourself 😊
To summarize, if you want 2021 to be an incredible year for your business, you have to summarize the passing year now. You have to use what this year taught you and correctly prepare yourself for the upcoming year. Should you choose to use the advice I’ve given you in this guide, not only will you know how to prepare yourself and your business for the new year, but you will also give yourself the best start you possibly can – no matter what challenges you have to face, I wish you the best of luck!