“It’s not where you start — It’s where you finish that counts.”
~ Zig Ziglar
I don’t know about you but it’s around this time of year that I start to get excited about the promise that the next year holds. It would be oh so easy for me to write this year off already, but I know that I need to finish this year strong if there’s any chance of starting the next one feeling prepared. In this blog I detail everything I’m doing to begin my wrap up of the year and lay the foundations for a really positive new year.
1. Review my 2023 business plan
The first thing I do around this time of year is go back to the business plan I made at the end of last year. I know before I even go there that there will be many things I haven’t done but I like to review the goals I originally set and assess where I am in relation to them.
There are always things that are underway but not yet complete and others that never even got started, it’s almost like my brain forgot about them as soon as the proverbial ink had dried on the paper. And that’s okay. Revisiting my plan helps me to decide what I’m going to focus on for the rest of the year.
2. Let go of things
I don’t hesitate to tweak my plan throughout the year and course correct as I go. And the final months of the year are no exception. In fact it’s probably when I am the most ruthless. I know that in order to have a positive and productive final quarter, I need to focus and streamline how I spend my time. With holidays thrown in, the last few months of the year always go by faster than expected.
I’m also really mindful not to beat myself up for what I haven’t achieved. I know only too well that no good comes from this. Instead, I consider what I put on my initial plan that no longer feels like a priority and I simply cross it off the list.
The last thing I want as I enter into quarter 4 is to have a list of things I haven’t done nor will I get done before year end. If there are things I wanted to do but didn’t, I do spend time trying to figure out what got in the way. Was it a mindset or a time issue or something else? If I’m going to carry something forward into the next year, I like to ask myself what I will do to ensure success the next time around?
3. I make a Q4 plan
In my business, Q4 is BUSY. I have the launch for my annual business planning workshop and my Conscious Business Mastermind, as well as getting everything ready for a January start for the latter. With so much going on, I have to be on it with my schedule and it’s also the last chance I get to tick things of my annual plan so it’s crucial that I get organised. I always write a quarterly plan but for quarter 4 it’s much more detailed.
4. Start big picture thinking for 2024
This is one of my favourite parts. After years of tweaking and trying out lots of things, my business model is pretty much nailed down these days. I have several recurring offerings like my group mastermind and my 1:1 coaching so there’s a fair amount of stuff that is already known and accounted for.
But there are also things like my workshop schedule that is somewhat up for grabs, I love to start making notes on what workshops I might run next year and any other things I might do. That said, every year that passes as a business owner. I have become more mindful of not putting too much on my plan. Like most people, the temptation to overestimate what’s possible in 12 months is ever present but I do believe that, from experience, I’m much more realistic these days.
5. Start laying the foundations for my business planning process
Every year I facilitate a detailed business planning process, I go through this process for myself, with my 1:1 clients, with my group program participants AND I host a public workshop. It’s a pretty thorough process and doing it means I have a robust plan for the year ahead.
Before I developed this process (many years ago), I used to jump straight in with goal-setting without doing the relevant, strategic thinking before getting to that point. This led to a heap of goals that didn’t make much strategic sense and were instead often rooted in “shoulds” and from copying what I was seeing others doing in my industry. These days it’s a different story, but before I can get strategic, there are some foundations I need to set.
Many of these are the things I’m sharing in this letter, others include allowing myself to really think into how I want to feel over the next year and what I want to accomplish. I like to journal on and envision what an ideal year would look like for me, before I get deep into planning mode.
Writing out my business wish list without restraint is one of the ways I do that. This is everything I could possibly hope for from my business. Even if my wishful thinking gets curtailed somewhat through the planning process, it’s important to let myself really feel into my dreams and desires for my business before getting to the realistic part.
6. Plan in next year’s holidays
This is one of my absolute favourite end of year activities. Before I start adding in what work I will do over the year. I like to go through my next year and block out all the time I’ll take off work. That includes looking at my children’s school holidays, any local or national bank holidays plus our annual winter and summer holidays and blocking them off in my calendar. That way when it comes to doing the planning for my business later in the year, I’ll already know what time I have left to play with. This is much better than scrambling to find space for holidays after my whole year has been planned out.
7. I write my business plan
As I mentioned above, every year, I do a full business planning process, which includes a full review of the current year and a set of strategic priorities, goals and systems for next year. I used to try and cram this process into December but these days I prefer to start earlier. That way I can guarantee to start the year in January crystal clear on what my business priorities are.
Whilst there are are several documents that make up my final business plan, what I’m left with is what I call the Planning Dashboard, which is where I can see, at a glance, my key priorities and targets for the year. It’s designed to fit on one page so that I can print it out and pin it above my desk for easy reference.
I’m fairly certain that I am not alone when it comes to making a great plan and then letting it sit dusty on a shelf for the rest of the year. Having my dashboard allows me to see at a glance, whenever I want to, my top line business plan.
And there you have it, what I’m currently working on to finish the year strong. I’m aware that if you are still struggling to get your business off the ground some of these things might feel like overkill but I’m a firm believer in building for growth.
That is treating your business as if it was already full and successful and putting into place now what would be necessary to organise your business around your life. I hope you’ve found this list useful and I’d love to hear what it brings up for you. Feel free to hit reply and let me know.
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