The end of the year is typically a very busy time for a business, as it draws the line to evaluate what worked and what didn't work in the previous 12 months in view of improving its performance in the new year. To achieve this, companies can begin by crafting solid strategies for the first quarter based on valuable feedback from customers and employees alike, as well as their year-end business figures in terms of sales, revenue and losses.
These six entrepreneurs share their best tips for planning for Q1 2020 and explain why starting off on the right foot in the first three months can set a business up for success all throughout the year.
Establish a clear roadmap.
All good plans should list the main goals and the ways one can attain them -- this is why the first step when devising a strategy for the first quarter of 2020 is to create a clear roadmap for your organization.
SeedProd LLC founder John Turner explains that his company's roadmap in Q1 consists of its biggest goals for the coming year, which it then breaks down into smaller, more manageable sections. "This strategy allows us to get a look at the big picture, then hit the ground running. I think this improves our focus and helps us realign our priorities for the coming year," Turner adds.
Draft individual team one-year plans.
For better results and a unified approach in meeting set goals, the company's general roadmap should be supported by similar efforts for each department, thinks Josh Payne, founder and CEO of StackCommerce.
"Have each team lead prepare a one-year roadmap for their department," Payne recommends. "Not only does this help surface bigger ideas and strategies you may not have been aware of, but it also helps you align your overarching business goals and budget company-wide."
Focus on your personal leadership priorities.
"When planning for a new year, CEOs may be tempted to focus solely on the company's strategic objectives. Obviously these are critical, but what is equally important is taking a step back to think about your own priorities as a leader," says vChief founder and CEO Madeleine Niebauer.
According to Niebauer, leaders should focus on identifying the areas they need to focus on to drive business growth as well as what stands in the way of achieving that goal. "Set three to five personal leadership priorities and review them often," she advises. This level of prioritization will allow leaders to keep focus on growing their company instead of spreading themselves too thin trying to do everything themselves.
Have a clear communication strategy.
A crucial component of any business strategy is communication, which should be a key element of a company's Q1 plans as well, according to MemberPress founder and CEO Blair Williams.
"As the new year begins, you need to stay on top of communication to make sure that new launches and updates take place seamlessly," Williams explains. To build a reliable communication structure and plan, companies can leverage specific tools such as Slack or project management software, he adds.
Analyze customer behavior.
When planning for Q1, leaders should keep in mind that customer behavior is changing constantly and there is no guarantee that the same strategies will work in the new year, according to Solomon Thimothy, co-founder and president of OneIMS.
Thimothy explains that his company always tries to follow trends to make sure it doesn't miss an important transition and that this allowed it to take full advantage of the popularity of video content throughout 2019. "Look for the newest approaches that will help optimize your success and remember not to repeat any of the items that didn't work in 2019."
Get feedback from your team.
"Your team members and employees know a lot about your business and will have the best ideas about what to go for in Q1," WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi offers, talking about what he believes is one of the most important steps toward creating a good plan for the first quarter of the year.
To achieve this, business leaders should have a sit-down with their staff and listen to all of their ideas and suggestions. Even if not all of those ideas will turn out to be actionable, this sit-down "will give you information that can help you start 2020 with sharp insights behind your planning," Balkhi concludes.