Have you thought about your 2021 plan yet?
Every December I pound on about planning for the next year, but this year-end planning is challenging for 2021. The standard way has been looking at what you have accomplished during the past year.
Generally, this would have given you the average per month as the base needed to achieve proposed targets for 2021. I call it “Historical Data” and would typically establish a reliable planning process to use in your planning for the year ahead. Unfortunately, 2020 has been such a challenging year for so many reasons.
So, you as business leaders must make sure that you don’t make 2021 even worse by planning unrealistic figures, ones that will try to get back all that you lost during 2020! The consequences of committing to achieving an unrealistic target would be disastrous to your confidence and the business. What could happen to your sales team if you gave them unachievable sales targets? They would start becoming so demoralised, missing their quarterly sales targets and concerned for their positions at the end of the year.
You are all looking to pull back the from during 2020. Still, we also have to be incredibly realistic and understand that an aggressive sales approach; however, commendable growth at any cost could be very damaging if not realistically planned. You have to face facts, forecasting the annual sales plan in any fiscal year is always a very tricky business, and for 2021 and the impact of Covid-19 make it an intriguing balancing act!
So, how do you, as business leaders respond and how will you arrive at an annual growth target that will get you to the end of what will most definitely be a challenging year ahead of you?
You, as individuals are unique; you have managed to stay in business during the crisis. The reason I feel is that you have been able to articulate business strategy concisely. You have stuck to that strategy and maintained your focus. You have put your head down and got on with the job in hand. You have NOT listened to all those “Negaholics” those Doom and Gloom people, so-called experts, who have already given up!
2021 will be an incredibly challenging year to negotiate. A lot of you will feel that you have stood still. Indeed, some of you will have been forced to furlough or make people redundant, which is very sad indeed but hey; you are still in business, so be grateful. You will now have started to think outside the box “pivot” your business or the products-service you are offering. You may have to move away from your traditional working practices to create a new revenue stream. You must set your 2021 plan not based solely on 2020 because those figures are more than likely down, so look at the year before and average them this will be the base of your plan.
To start, you will need to connect determinedly with you present customers and to make sure that their needs will be the same, more importantly; That they will be staying with you during 2021. “Do not assume” that they will. Have you sent them a Christmas Greeting thanking them for their business during the year?
Secondly, you will need to understand that you will need to start looking at your old skills and think seriously about learning new ways of building your knowledge and business, skills that you used before Covid-19 hit the world.
It would be best if you went back to basics. Looking at what you are going to need to have to do more of and what you are good at doing. You are going to need to develop a marketing strategy, writing a new marketing plan, doing resource planning, start telling stories on your successes from the past, and concentrate on some strategic planning and problem-solving. You have the opportunity to sharpen your skills through “continuous personal development” (CPD).
During Covid-19, we have not been able to get out as much (if at all). So a lot of prospecting with “face-to-face” meetings and networking events have not been available to you. In your planning for 2021, targets will need to be for networking and face-to-face meetings.
Those people we’re meeting on Zoom networking events have found a great way of “working on their business and not working in the business.”
The information gained shows that business has undoubtedly been excellent. People have managed to gain many more contacts for future development.
Development of the plan
What 2021 has given you is a blank slate, a fresh start to address that pent-up desire for you to position yourself for future success. By beginning, the process of putting the plan together now will enable you to start thinking about your long term sooner. Still, it helps to shift the focus from short-term survival to a more positive and pro-active approach to the long-term future of the business.
It would be best if you embraced reality based on the uncertain times and economy, I do understand it is complicated to predict the future so you will need to establish your plan on existing conditions as they are now. To help you to determine the current state you are in, you will need to conduct a thorough business analysis of the business, which will then allow you to devise a long-term plan for 2021.
I always advise companies as well as individuals to complete a “SWOT analysis” which is the acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to your business. Your findings from the SWOT analysis will identify areas that need additional funding and attention during 2021.
However, understand that decisions may have to be taken to change or eliminate some projects, ideas or spending to maximise your overall resources and success in 2021.
Currently, economic forecasts are indicating a modest growth rate in 2021; however, as I am writing this blog, Sunday 6th December 2020, negotiations are still going on in Brussels to finalise the United Kingdom and the EU Brexit agreement. That said, you should set optimistic projections. With so much uncertainty and unknowns lurking in the background, you should prepare a modest and conservative plan. Erring on the side of caution when you set your objectives is wise, while at the same time stretch goals to motivate and encourage your employees.