2018 is just around the corner, and if you haven’t already got a strategy in mind for how you plan to evolve and grow in the coming years, then now’s the time to start brainstorming.
In the world of business, the easiest way to outshine your competitors, get ahead in the marketplace, and embrace new opportunities, is to establish a solid strategy. The right business plan for 2018 could help you to expand your product offerings, enter new marketplaces, and take advantage of potential profits in niches you never considered before.
As all companies know, each new year brings new opportunities, and new challenges to face. To help give you the support that you need to align your team and prepare for the future, we’re going to introduce you to four simple, and free mind-mapping steps that you can use to establish business progression, evaluate possible problems and hopefully boost organizational growth.
Let’s get started!
To some extent, creating a plan for business growth and development is about looking into the future and visualizing where you want you to go in the coming years. This means that you need to have a clear vision in place that all the people in your team can follow. Unfortunately, without a sort of “goal blueprint” in place, different thoughts and opinions can lead to confusion in the average business space, that’s why it’s so helpful to create a “visual roadmap” for the future.
To design your own roadmap, bring your team together and ask them to suggest some key goals that you want to accomplish in the coming years. Once everyone has agreed on a few key milestones, you’ll be able to give each of them their own ideal deadline and plot a path towards success. When you’re finished, you can even post your roadmap online for each employee to refer to whenever necessary.
One of the best reasons to visualize your business plan for 2018 as a team, is that doing this will allow every member of the company to feel more involved. When you’ve helped to come up with some of the goals that your organization is striving for, you’re much more likely to go above and beyond to make sure that you make those ambitions a reality.
What’s more, a roadmap can be a wonderful resource to look back on as you move through the remainder of the year. After all, as you tick off certain milestones, you can reward your entire team with celebrations, and motivate them towards the next step in their journey with the knowledge that they’ve accomplished something incredible.
Here are a couple of things that you should think about when you’re plotting your steps for the year ahead:
You might also want to think about including a competitive analysis in your plan if you’re trying to take steps to better differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Just make sure that everyone in your group has access to the right information to keep them feeling as though they’re “ahead of the curve”. One study found that around 74% of employees currently feel as though they’re missing out on key information and company news, which can lead to confusion and lapsed productivity.
With the careful visualization conducted in the step above, you should have a good idea of what you hope to accomplish with your team as a business. Now, you need to think about how you’re going to market your products and services to attract the right audience to your brand. To begin your business plan for 2018 from a marketing perspective, think about what you’d like to cover on a month-to-month, or quarter-to-quarter basis.
According to some studies, generating ideas through mind-mapping is a process that’s capable of boosting creativity by as much as 23%. Remember to get everyone involved, and ask them to write down their thoughts, regardless of whether they consider them to be “good” or not. You can always erase strategies that you’re not going to use at a later stage. Think about the following things when you’re taking part in the mind-mapping process:
When your Mind Map is complete, you can load it onto your business intranet, and combine it with additional resources, such as links to editorial calendars and collections of curated content. Remember, you can also use this same strategy when brainstorming new products and other solutions in the future.
SWOT analyses are often-underutilized solutions for exceptional business strategy. They allow you and your team to consider your strengths and weaknesses as a company and come up with a plan to give yourself the best chances of success in the year ahead. Though most brands assume that they only need to undergo SWOT analysis when they’re making significant changes to the organization, the truth is that your business will often change dramatically from one year to the next.
Look back at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that your company faced in 2017, and try to plan accordingly for the year ahead. Your SWOT analysis should include potential opportunities that you see coming your way in 2018, such as the chance to embrace new customers or tailor your services to different clients.
While it’s tempting to focus exclusively on the “strengths” and “opportunities” that might present themselves in your SWOT analysis, remember that it’s important to think carefully about the threats that you’ll face as a growing company too. The longer you spend in the market, the more competitors you’ll discover who is ready to jump in and steal your customers at a moment’s notice.
While a SWOT analysis might not protect you entirely from the risks that lay ahead, it may help you to prepare for potential problems, and ensure that you have a strategy in place to protect your company from any serious issues.
Remember to look at the following things:
Strengths: How can you out-perform your competitors, and what resources do you have that put you in a better position for 2018? If possible, look at how you’ve improved during the last year.
Weaknesses: Which areas are you struggling in? Are there any gaps you need to fill in your strategy to make sure that you can make the most of the market in the coming months? Could you learn from your weaknesses last year to improve performance this year?
Opportunities: Has the market changed over the last year? Could you attract new customers to your company, or are there new technologies you can use to enhance your product? What could make you more competitive?
Threats: Have alterations in the marketplace paved the way for a new competition? Are there any specific risks in the form of new regulations or legislation that you need to address before you can grow?
Finally, when you’re certain that you’ve got your full team together on the same page, and you know what the year ahead should have in store for your company, think about creating a “knowledge map” for your collective plans, ideas, and opinions.
You can use business process modeling software to organize all of your information into the same place and give people across different sectors visual reports into how you’re performing, and how close you might be to reaching certain goals. At the same time, you can access shared models to improve team collaboration, inviting the right people from the right groups to come together and generate new ideas.
Remember, creating a business plan for 2018 doesn’t mean putting a strategy in place and sticking to it no matter what. Though it’s important to remain focused on your overall goals and consistent when it comes to your company values, it’s also essential to ensure that you’re aware of any changes or trends that take place in your industry.
Make sure that you’re not deaf and blind to the changes that are happening around you, and take the time to update your knowledge map and your plan for the year as necessary. This might mean bringing the team together again in the future to discuss some of the evolutions that you may need to make when planning your goals. However, as long as you keep communication strong, you shouldn’t have too many problems!