Business Planning Process for an Existing Business

Charting your course plays a major role in the luck you bring to your business. This week, I conducted my company’s annual business planning process and review sessions. It took about 3-4 hours each day over 2 days. The business planning process for an existing business, one that has products and services and customers, is usually different than one for a new enterprise. Existing businesses have to take into account the needs of current customers as well as figure out how to get new ones.business planning process for existing business

Here is the business planning process we use to hammer out our plan:

  1. Discuss last year’s accomplishments and shortcomings, including “small wins”
  2. Review our mission and values that shape what we tackle going forward
  3. Review current status of and new ideas for each component of the business
    • Infrastructure
    • Products and services
    • Customer Service
    • Marketing
    • Operations
  4. Rank the large list of activities we come up with based on estimated time involved to complete and impact to our customers and business
  5. Prioritize the activities we feel will result in the biggest bang for the buck

This exercise results in a one-page action list that we review a few times a year to 1) see if we are on track and 2) see what needs to change. It has been a very useful way to crystallize our collective thoughts and get everyone rowing in the same direction – and that leads to good luck. It is not a 15-20 page document, just a list – see the screenshot below. I’ve blurred out our actual tasks, but you get the idea (D=just about done, 1-5=priority order, WL=wait listed).

business plan action list example

You can take this action list and create a goal list for each team member involved. Short action lists like this are easy to pin on your wall so you are reminded of your key points of focus throughout the year. Mine hang right next to me and are filled with short notes I scratch in as the year goes by. The best feeling is checking one of those items off the list!

How to Get a Glowing Performance Review

Most managers, and I’m not an exception, view performance reviews as a necessary part of their duties.  It is not something they typically get very excited about.  To be fair to the employee being reviewed, many managers put in a considerable amount of time and effort into writing the review in order to provide useful feedback that can help improve future performance.performance review

Even if you are a solid performer, there is a chance that your boss won’t recall everything you did over the last year.  And that could affect your review.

The Pre-Performance Review Document

Make it easy on your boss by providing them with written guidance ahead of time.  Before they sit down to review your performance and write their comments, give them a few pages that detail your work summary.  Here is a simple format that works well:

  1. Start with high level bullets like you might include on your resume.
  2. Add key points for each bullet that talks about your contribution as well as the resulting success.
  3. End with a section on your work goals for the next 12 months and a few points on ways you can improve your productivity.

This isn’t the time to be bashful about your accomplishments. If you don’t tout them as being important, you run the risk that your boss won’t think they are important either. That could end in a performance review that isn’t as good as what you could have gotten. Show how you took a shortcoming and turned it around. Use this opportunity to shine.

Getting a Raise

By giving your boss input ahead of time, you are also telling him or her that you are aware of your contributions to your organization and that you are expecting to be recognized for them. Be careful not to spin molehills into mountains in an attempt to make your accomplishments appear bigger than they were. Keep track of what you do throughout the year – perhaps through a monthly work journal – so that producing this pre-performance review document is easy and you don’t miss any of your achievements.

If you do this year after year, you will also convey the feeling that you are a person who cares about your work and the betterment of your organization.  Your managers will remember you for this, especially when it comes time for you to get a raise.