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As we enter the fourth quarter of 2018, planning for next year’s business goals now still gives you time to catch up on this year’s goals.

While the New Year is a traditional time to set personal resolutions, strategic planning for your startup shouldn’t wait until the end of 2018. As we coast into the 4th quarter, direction- and goal-setting plans for next year are coming due. And what better time to reassess than the impending autumn? The back-to-school season naturally prompts a re-set, and as Ann Handley recently wrote, late August reminds us “time is closing in on the year.” Now is the time to write those annual strategic plans for every aspect of your business.

You likely start this process by pulling out the strategic plan you wrote this time last year. Hopefully, you feel pretty good about the progress your startup has made toward the majority of the goals. But what about those items yet to be completed?

No need to burn yourself out in a frenzy to checklist every item of “unfinished” business before December 31. In this article, we will explore how to take stock of your startup’s current situation and set the framework for a successful strategic plan.

Assess 2018’s Strategic Plan at the End of Q3

As the third quarter wraps up, dust off the strategic plan that you wrote last year and look at your goals. Now is a great time to see what goals worked for you and what didn’t. There’s no reason to carry over failed initiatives if a fresh look reveals they just don’t work for your business.

For example, realized that year after year he wrote a strategic plan with the same goal of chasing a specific type of client. Yet, year after year he never succeeded. “Finally,” he wrote to us, “I realized that the reason I wasn’t succeeding is that the client I thought would be best for my business really wasn’t. Now we look at what works for us and pursue clients based on that framework.”

When reviewing this year’s goals, be realistic. Maybe some of the things you haven’t yet accomplished are goals that were too big and long-term. Although it’s great to set these types of stretch goals, a better strategy is to break them into smaller steps that you’re more likely to accomplish. Setting next year’s strategic business goals is a prime opportunity to reassess and realign your business.

 

Aim for Proactive and Productive, Not Reactive

The purpose behind strategy setting is to be proactive. This naturally leads to productivity gains. Being in a place where your business is constantly reactive, or “putting out fires,” is a good sign your strategic planning process needs to be improved. Proactivity is a direct result of planning. Consider this article a gentle nudge in that direction.

While radical transparency is a great idea for teams working together toward a goal (i.e., collaborate on your strategic goal setting), solo entrepreneurs may take a different tack. A surprising piece of advice to help you achieve a proactive and productive strategic plan is, once you’ve set your goals, tell no one. That’s right: mum is the word! “Communicating your goals tricks the brain into thinking you’ve already achieved them,” writes Daniel Wesley.

A quick tip: No More Should

Re-evaluate on the Reg

While it isn’t true for every entrepreneur, it’s certainly true for many of us that, as soon as they’re written, we tend to shelve those business goals and forget to revisit them. This is a mistake however, because our strategic planning shouldn’t be an annual event. It should be dynamic, growing alongside your business.

If you like a consistent check-in, consider a personal inventory day. It’s a designated day every month when you re-evaluate your goals and align them with well, you know, life. For insight into what this looks like in practice from the perspective of a full-time entrepreneur, be sure to check out this article from The Blonde Mule.

Stop and Ask for Directions

Strategic planning is a bit like a road trip, a long and winding path with a few detours, flat tires, and hidden gems along the way. If you’re feeling lost in the day-to-day running of your business with little time for strategic planning for your business, consider Growthwright a partner for your needs.

Schedule a free consultation with a business expert today by contacting us here.

Amanda Bair is the Director of Marketing for Growthwright.

If you are a start-up looking for Marketing services, contact us here or email us.

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