With rolling lockdowns and forever changing pressures being placed on our time and availability, such as home-schooling and store closures, putting any sort of business plan in place right now might feel a bit hopeless.
But, as one of my favourite sayings goes “Plans are useless, planning is priceless”. No matter what the outcome and how things may change, reviewing your goals and ambitions is imperative for you, at the very least, to get an idea of what you actually want for you and your business going forward.
In episode 24 of The Resilient Retail Game Plan, I want to take you through my personal Planning Process and help you use SWOT Analysis and SMART objectives to build a robust set of goals that will help you map out your sales and stock plans for the year ahead and beyond.
We’ll look at using a SWOT Analysis to give yourself and your business the equivalent of an annual review, to figure out where things currently stand. I’ll ask you where you want you and your business to be in the future and what success looks and feels like to you. And we’ll use SMART objectives to take your newly-formed hopes and goals and make sure they’re specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
By following my planning process and implementing these developmental tools we can get closer to making those plans, and the growth of you and your business, a reality.
No time to listen? Read the episode in this blog post below!
A goal without a plan is just a wish
The world might seem very chaotic at the moment, planning might feel out of reach but I actually think it’s more reason to make sure you have a planning process in your product business. Often the reality of what you can achieve in your business is very different from what you’re wishing for – so going through a planning process can help set achievable goals.
‘Plans are useless but planning is priceless’ – I love this saying too. You can have a plan, but you do have to have a certain amount of flexibility around it and it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth going through the process of really thinking about your business and what you want and what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. That process is priceless, no matter of the outcome.
In my membership group The Resilient Retail Club, for 2021 we are working to a full quarter pattern. We have a different theme for each quarter – the first quarter for the whole three months is planning.
It breaks down into three steps – overall goals, then to a more detailed sales plan that allows you to produce a stock plan. It’s challenging for you to get to the stock plan, which is really crucial for your cash flow and for your overall business management, without going through the process of setting overall goals and making sales plan.
Often when people think about the planning process they think it is rigid, but actually it’s hugely creative. It’s a creative process to think about where you are now and where you want to go.
Start by taking a look at where are you now, what does your current situation look like? I find doing a SWOT analysis is the easiest, most useful method. Take a close look at your business and identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This method allows you to get all of your ideas down on paper in an organised way.
Take a piece of A4 paper – fold it in half, fold it in half again – you’ve got four quarters, you can write strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at the top of each of those segments and then just start writing it down.
I recommend starting positively by identifying your strengths, this is also an opportunity for you to step back and pat yourself on the back for a job well done! We all forget to do that otherwise. It’s really important for you to tap into everything that’s gone well, because that’s what gives you energy as a business owner, that’s what gives you the confidence and that’s what helps you grow.
Write down the products that people really responded to, the social media accounts or channels that worked really well for you, posts that worked really well, the partnerships that you formed that did well, the things that were a real improvement, did you get a mention by somebody that you really admire? Did you get a piece of press coverage that you really proud of? Did you push yourself out of your comfort zone and do an Instagram Live for the first time ever? Write all of these things down. Think of this as your annual review – we start a business because we want to be our own boss but we miss out on that annual review so this definitely does some where to fill that gap.
Acknowledge the things that you did, that didn’t work, the things that you tried that people didn’t respond to, or maybe the response was okay but it costs you money that you didn’t think it was worth. Note down anything that you did that you recognise didn’t work as well as it could have. However, it’s important that you don’t get stuck in this section and use it as an excuse to wallow in self criticism! Everybody makes lots of mistakes as they’re building their business – it’s how we learn and then don’t repeat them.
I love this one. This is where you get to do some ‘blue sky thinking’. Ask yourself – what do you want to do? What could you do? Allow yourself to explore some ideas. It may be something that you want to do almost as a separate exercise, but for now just thinking about your opportunities, where you can take the business and what you’re excited about will help hugely with deciding on your overall goals.
I call these the 3am thoughts, these are the things that keep you awake at night worrying. List down what are the threats to your business right now? Is it your energy? Is it your ability to grow it whilst also looking after yourself? Are there lots of competitors coming into your particular niche area? Is there an issue with suppliers? Do you have a physical shop and in the current climate of shop closures – footfall has become a new threat? Note down all of those niggles and worries.
Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis beginning to form your overall goal for the business becomes more straight-forward and strategically linked to your business. Think about 12-months, 5/10/20 years time – how would you want to describe your journey with your business? What is the profit number that you really want to aim for? What is a goal that you want for the business? How would you describe that goal? It might be that you want to hit 50% revenue increase but don’t want to work evenings and weekends anymore or you may want to double your sales but don’t want to be the person who’s dispatching everything all the time.
What do you want the business to look like? And more importantly, in a way, what do you want the business to feel like in a year? Make sure you sense check that it’s your vision for your business and not what others think it should be. Once you have your overall goal, one that excites you and you’re really motivated to aim for – think about 3-5 smaller goals that will help to achieve your overall vision. Don’t forget that these can be a mixture of personal and business goals.
The goal sneed to be SMART specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. From that point, you maybe want to create a quarterly plan, as a lot of people find a yearly plan overwhelming – plus a 90-day plan can help you stay focused.
If you’re still stuck with the idea of planning, Swot analysis, SMART goals – then go back to how you feel. Think about this time next year and how you want to feel about your business then. Remember, and this is more important during these uncertain times – if you’re not ready for large-scale growth this year that is ok – moderate growth is ok and you can design your planning around achieving that. Your goal might be I want to send a newsletter every week consistently – because you know this will do wonders for your customer relationships.