5 steps to plan for a successful year

1. Assess the past year

At the end of the year, business owners are closing out their books, preparing their year-end financials, and getting ready for tax season.

This is also a great time to review your goals for the past year, assess your growth and marketing channels, and look for opportunities to grow and improve in the future. One way to approach this assessment is by doing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.

Now’s the time to identify the areas where you didn’t hit the mark and ask yourself hard questions — but it’s also the time to celebrate all your hard work and successes. Business coach and entrepreneur Hanna Hermanson warns “Too often we set goals, grind away, and then look for how to improve again. If we don’t take time to celebrate (even the small things), we become burnt out, frustrated, and ineffective.”

2. Involve your team

Getting diverse perspectives will help you create better, more realistic goals. Involving your team will help them understand your company goals and get them motivated to achieve them.

According to a report from Workboard, companies fail to achieve their strategic goals 70%, often for a handful of specific reasons:

  • 87% of workers don’t feel engaged or inspired by the goals.
  • 93% of workers don’t understand how their day-to-day work relates to the goals.
  • 50% of managers have a hard time encouraging accountability.
  • 93% of workers don’t understand what they need to do to help achieve the goals.

Getting your team involved early on, choosing goals that are meaningful and inspiring, and creating a clear and actionable plan will dramatically increase your chances of success.

This step applies to any size of team … even a team of one. You also need to feel inspired by your goals and ready to achieve them. Also, even as a solo entrepreneur you’re still working with people. You may have clients, occasional freelancers, strategic partners, investors, or a network of fellow entrepreneurs. Their feedback may influence your goals and their actions will affect your ability to achieve the results you’re looking for. Look for ways to have meaningful conversations with them about your projects and plans.

3. Set achievable goals

In order to create an actionable plan to achieve your goals, you need to have an idea of what’s realistic and what steps you can take to get from point a to b.

Setting realistic goals requires looking at past performance, assessing your current resources and setting KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for each goal. These are quantifiable metrics that you can use to track your performance for each goal.

It is easy to focus on goals that are related to revenue or specific data, but don’t overlook other potential goals like recruiting top talent, attending conferences, getting press, building your community, or improving your product. KPIs can include the specific actions you take to drive future results.

4. Stay focused with project management tools

Staying on top of your strategic plan is hard if you keep it tucked away in your desk or a forgotten folder on your computer.

Don’t waste all the hard work you put into the plan by neglecting to use it. One easy way to track tasks and projects related to your goals is by using free project management software. There are tons of options out there, and you can often get a free trial to see if the software you're considering is a good fit. You can also use a whiteboard, a poster, or a simple spreadsheet. The important thing is to keep your strategic plan top of mind so you can use it to stay accountable, make adjustments, and reach your goals.

5. Measure your results and keep yourself accountable

Once you’ve set achievable goals and you’ve planned out the specific tasks you’ll be taking to achieve them, it’s time to start measuring.

Schedule specific, regular times to look at your KPIs, discuss them with your team, and make adjustments as needed to stay on track.


Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.


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