10 steps to planning your company's growth

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This practical guide will help executives grasp the basic steps that need to be taken to successfully plan the year that is beginning.

Step 1

Avoid focusing only on your company when planning your year. Always start the year by analyzing the changes in your area of activity. Are there new business opportunities? What is the biggest threat looming in your industry? How are your competitors changing? These factors can have a major impact on your priorities.

Step 2

Take some time to review your company’s current state. Get some distance and be objective. What is your greatest strength right now? And your greatest weakness? What sets you apart from the competition and can it make a difference, given the changes in your area of activity?

Step 3

Rethink your long-term vision. What is your main objective for the next 5 to 10 years? When will you be able to say that you have achieved it? Don’t limit yourself to simple growth objectives in sales and profits. Expand your thinking by using your personal and corporate values as guides.

Step 4

Consolidate your thoughts from the first three steps. Now you can set a growth priority for the coming year. Avoid confusion by setting too many priorities. Stick to what is essential. Make sure that you take your conclusions from each of the first three steps into consideration. In which direction is your area of activity heading? Which aspects of your company can you build on to seize opportunities? Which weaknesses do you need to improve in order to avoid becoming vulnerable in your industry in the next few years? And finally, which growth option comes closest to your long-term objectives?

Step 5

The growth priority you set must now be converted into an objective that can be achieved in the next twelve months. Take some time to come up with an objective that is easy to measure so that you can properly quantify the results. Also, make sure that the objective is directly related to your growth priority.

Step 6

It is now time to go beyond strategic thinking. Procure the resources you need to achieve the set objective. Does a special budget need to be allocated to the project? Where will the funds come from? Which members of your team should work toward this objective? How can you free up their schedules to be sure that they can work toward it? Who will be responsible for achieving the objective? You or a key employee? It is important to convince your partners and employees to stick to the suggested methods of achieving the set objective.

Step 7

Break down your growth priority and your main objective into sub-objectives to measure progress in the project and increase your chances of success. Set an appropriate timeline. Never forget that even though you delegate responsibility for reaching the objective, you will still need to supervise efforts toward it. Everyday concerns about your company will always compete with your strategic planning. Be involved throughout the process and regularly set aside time to check up on the project.

Step 8

Summarize your growth priority in a single sentence. Take the time you need to do so and choose each word carefully. Come back to this sentence often and communicate it to the rest of your company, while taking the time to properly explain it in a way that will convince your team to get behind the project. The chances of success are greater when executives set the example.

Step 9

Repeat this strategic planning process every year. Make it an annual tradition and use last year’s priority as a springboard for the next year’s priority. In doing so, you build your growth one step at a time and make progress toward your long-term objectives.

Step 10

In each of the previous steps, ask yourself if you need help or outside expertise to reach your objectives. Remember that CPAs can support you in every step of your company's strategic planning process.

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