WANT TO SURVIVE—and thrive—in 2014? Then it’s
time to develop an annual plan for your business.
In my business, we have an annual planning
session in January with the whole team involved.
When we’re done, we’ve got a whole
bunch of giant flip-chart pages where
we’ve scribbled our decisions. We don’t
have a fancy document.
But it works: Annual planning has
saved my company. In 2002, during our
business plan sessions, we realized we
were overly dependent on one distributor.
An action item was to find a new sales
channel. We did, and we survived the
bankruptcy of that distributor a few years
later. In 2009, we were facing a radically
shrinking economy and industry. In our
planning session, we brainstormed ways
to generate new income and get tough on
expenses. We’re thriving today.
Annual planning can help you survive and
thrive too. And it’s easy. For a day or two, get away
success in 2014
from your workplace and stop phone and email
interruptions. In advance of your planning session,
prepare a few financial reports to help you
evaluate where your money comes from and goes.
For your agenda, include:
1. An overview of the past 12 to 24
months. What’s working; what’s not? What’s
profitable; what’s not? What’s your overall
financial picture? What’s in need of improvement?
2. Your long-term objectives for your
company. If you’ve done a full business plan,
you’ll be able to articulate them. Keep them in
mind as you develop your 2014 plan.
3. Outside factors. What changes over the
past year can you take advantage of and what’s
threatening you in your industry, market and
competition? How is technology affecting you?
What’s making you vulnerable?
4. Your goals for 2014. Be specific and try
to attach numbers to each goal. Include financial
and nonfinancial goals.
5. Brainstorm. How can you best
reach those goals? What new markets
might you tap? What new products or
services might you offer? How about new
marketing techniques? Do you need to
look at changing staffing needs?
6. Decision making. Prioritize your
good ideas. Choose which actions you’ll
take in 2014 and which you’ll set aside.
Assign responsibility and set deadlines.
By the time you’re finished, you should
have the outline of an action plan for 2014,
and get your year off to a great start! C
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On Costco.com, enter “Connection.”
At Online Edition, search “Rhonda
RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
Rhonda Abrams is
the author of
Business Plan in a Day,
and other books
on small business.
Register for her free
newsletter at www.
ARE YOU CONCERNED about
your employees’ work ethic
and do you wonder how to
build it? Eric Chester, a Littleton,
Colorado, Costco member,
employee expert, author and
keynote speaker, offers these
tips for building a better
Go one-on-one. Managers
should work to create the relationships needed to encourage
goals, aspirations, needs, home
life, social circles and even hob-bies to find ways to relate on
an individual level in a way that
Establish a target. If your
front-line employees cannot
articulate the core values of the
business, everything else falls
apart. Core values should be
brief, bulleted statements
that define the values each
employee must hold dear,
rather than long, jargon-laden
Make instruction matter.
Consistency in employee
expectations is a key factor in
successfully igniting the work
ethic. Training programs
designed around teaching
values and what happens
when expectations are not met
are critical to success.
Make your success their
success. Get creative with
public appreciation, incentives,
perks and compensation that
can be tied to shared goals to
give employees a sense of
achievement, which in turn
increases their engagement on
Listen, respond and
engage. Continually ask for
Scan or click here
for additional tips
from Rhonda on
(See page 5 for
CONTINUED ON PAGE 14
MANY BUSINESS leaders do not fully
realize the importance of providing positive feedback to enhance organizational
growth and talent retention. Regardless
of business size, when correctly
given, reinforcement can help
improve job performance,
promote professional and personal growth, and increase morale
in those who receive such recognition.
Here are some tips to help you along
Never hesitate. Give an encouraging
word of approval. It is often worth more
than money to the recipient.
Make it public. Constructive feed-
The power of positive feedback
back can be given privately, but recognition
is often even more powerful when given
Be specific. Focus on exactly what was
We all know it is easy to call people out
when they do something wrong, but what
about calling people out when they do
goes a long way to
growing and reinforc-
ing any relationship,
and, like smiling, it
a e SH