Why and how do I accomplish massive business goals each and every year? I’ve been doing it for more than 20 years. That’s what I do that I think is extraordinary in my skill set. I’ve got tremendous weaknesses, but I think anybody that works with me would tell you that I set ambitious goals every year and have a strategy in place to achieve them. Your ability to do strategic planning is going to be the difference between you having a business that survives and a business that thrives. I think great entrepreneurs have a natural competitiveness to them.
If you’re not competitive, I don’t know how good of an entrepreneur you’re going to be. I would say you’re probably going to start a business that’s not going to survive. And that may be fine for you. It’s not for me. It’s not good enough for me. When I started my direct mail magazines about 22 years ago, I was given a very small territory licensing agreement for a city of 60000 people. It was a great city. But it was scorched earth. They had two publishers who tried to do a magazine before I got there, and they blew it up and never got a magazine off the ground. Everybody had seen the magazine, but it had no credibility. There was actually some legal matters going on with the local Domino’s franchise owner, who was not very happy with the previous publisher. I took it over, developed the magazine in that city, and developed a regional territory of three states. We expanded to over 23 cities.
What did I do to achieve that? I performed strategic planning to expand the territory. My strategy was to do one publisher per year. Everybody else would try to interview all these publishers and launch in all these cities and it wouldn’t happen as people that weren’t qualified would go in there scorched-earth style and pitch everybody, and then the magazine would never get off the ground and that city was done.
I knew how hard it was to revitalize a city so I didn’t think that was a good strategy. I would spend three months, January, February, March, getting the right person, training them, and then launch them. By the end of the year, they’d have two magazines off the ground and hopefully, within three years they’d have four. Well, within five years, I had 20 areas serviced with no turnover. Every single publisher that I brought on published their first magazine. No scorched earth!
That was a strategic plan I had. The goal was to expand my territory and my strategy was one publisher, the right publisher, per year. It worked.
I’m going to give you three strategic plans that you could work towards in a given year.
New Profit Stream
I want to add a new profit stream every single year to one of my companies. That’s it. Why? Because I know that you can go through downturns and things that were once popular may not be popular. A product you’re selling now might have a competition coming in, or just things just lose their luster.
I’m always trying to add something new every year. It doesn’t always work out that I do, but if I look over a 10-year period, typically seven out of 10 years I’ve added a profit stream.
When the pandemic came, we were down 18% from last year. We had been up over 20% for the last 11 straight years. We absorbed it. It did not crush us in any way, so adding a profit stream I find it’s a great plan to have for any company.
Amazon makes money in so many different ways. They have their storefront and the greatest cloud computing system in the world. Companies just figure out endless ways to make money and create new profit streams.
Increase in Customer Traffic
If I have more quality traffic, I typically have more sales. If we have more sales, we make more revenue. More revenue leads to more profit
Do you need to upgrade your team? You’re not going to accomplish anything great without a great team anyway.
You want it definable. Maybe you need/want three key hires this year. Maybe we want to an entry-level intern, a VP, and somebody to run an entire division. Or maybe you want a new sales rep. Whatever fits your company. That’s what. That’s what matters, but you always have to be upgrading talent.
Strategic Planning Secrets
Have a Clear Objective
Is your plan clearly defined with a goal. Do you and your team know when you’ve achieved it? An increase in sales on a new profit stream, an increase in customers. That’s pretty simple. For talent acquisition, if we hired somebody, it’s going to be pretty obvious that we had some talent acquisitions, so your objective needs to be clearly defined with a goal line.
Have a Team in Place to Accomplish the Goals
Sometimes we set big goals, but we don’t have the team
Now, if you can accomplish all this yourself, like when I did the direct mail magazine early on, it was basically me. By five years in, I had a team. You need to have a team that’s capable of doing what you’re hoping to do.
Have a Timeline
You don’t want to be six months into something that’s a strategic initiative and you haven’t achieved anything. That’s why I want to talk to my team regularly.
For example, when I was doing the magazine, January, February, March was my recruitment period. This is when I recruited and trained to get the right person with the goal of having them launch their magazine in the spring. That was my timeline.
Know the Costs
Typically things that are good for your company are going to cost you a little bit of money. Upgrading your staff might require more payroll. If you’re trying to increase customer traffic you might need to put some budget towards that. There’s a cost towards this strategy.
These four things are the plan, but let me give you the warnings. These are just as valuable as those.
It’s never going to happen if you don’t have regular accountability with your team. Where are we at? Every week, every month, however, you touch base, there needs to be a regular huddle, so no regular accountability. There’s no chance.
Never Throw Good Money After Bad Money
There are times when you’re six months in on working toward, for example, customer acquisition, and your digital marketing strategy is not working. I’ve always said, advertising either works or doesn’t. You maybe get one pivot to fix the strategy, but that is it.
So never throw good money after bad. Sometimes you have to call it a day on this strategy. You don’t just keep throwing money away for another six months.
Sometimes the scope evolves. In the military, it’s called mission creep. This is where the mission expands out from under something very different from what it started as.
The strategy starts as one thing and it creeps into something that nobody can get behind and nobody thinks is realistic. Nobody thinks it’s achievable. Be careful about that. Keep your scope the same as what it was with the initial objective. Don’t let it creep out and expand.
Sometimes you get under siege, so you set this initiative and it’s really great, but then competition moves into the area. Something changes on the ground that changes the priority. When that happens, you have to pause and fight the battle that’s in front of you.
I had this happen before. Every year we want to grow 20%, and I had somebody using our name and had a phone number very similar to us. I had to pause everything and just absolutely put this person in their place. I had competition and I had to stop everything and focus on them because this one opponent could have caused more damage than and growing wouldn’t have mattered if the company went out of business. So sometimes you’re under siege something happens that we have to pause that initiative and fight the battle in front of you.
These are my warnings.