December 1, 2017

5 Steps To A Killer Business Plan For 2018

If you’re reading this, you are likely a business owner or are responsible in some way for the growth of the company you are a part of. It’s hard to be an entrepreneur or to even keep that entrepreneurial spirit up when faced with just getting it all done. Can I get an amen?!


So often we are focused on the the smaller details of our business that we forget some of the most basic planning required to be successful.


Let me tell you right now, that planning is the key to success! So many people spend more time planning a week-long vacation than they do planning their business for the upcoming year. It’s November, and if you lead a company or a department, or it’s in your job description to help grow a company, you should be meeting with your team (or even just yourself, if you’re a solopreneur) to get it right in 2018.


If that seems overwhelming, relax. Here are five steps to a help you get your business plan under control:


1. Assess the year at hand.  What were your biggest wins in 2017? What were your greatest learning opportunities? (Hint. We learn this by doing it wrong the first time.)


2. Do a detailed review of this year’s financials and compare to 2016. Did you see the seasonal bumps that you expected? Were there months where profit was strong? Do more of what created that result.


3. Do a comprehensive SWOT analysis. The best way to affect your future plans with this analysis is to go through it in this order:

  • List the strengths that you have compared to your competitors in a given market place.
  • For each strength listed, consider what opportunity is available to you. This may be a target market, a strategy to employ or another opportunity type.
  • List the weaknesses that you have compared to your competitors.
  • For each weakness listed, consider what threats there are to your business as a result of this weakness.
  • For each threat listed consider what strategy you can employ that would mitigate the threats identified.


Download SWOT analysis worksheet


Through this process you will have created a flow of ideas from the strengths and the opportunities and considered strategies that you can work on to lead you to success. These steps now provide you with a set of actions that you can implement that will take your business forward and minimize risk while you do so.


4. Start the action plan and the financial plan for 2018.

  • Prepare the marketing strategy first. Look at any marketing initiatives that you worked on this year. What had a good ROI and what maybe lacked results? Plan your marketing strategy based on the strategies that had your most successful results and maybe mix in some new things to try.
  • List expenses required to address issues discovered in your SWOT analysis and include them in your financial budget as well.
  • Work on the revenue plan for the new year. Make sure you understand the need to invest in marketing if you expect to see growth in 2018. I once heard Sherre DeMao, the author of 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times say, “Having a business and not marketing it is like having a baby and not feeding it.” I think of that every time I hesitate to invest in marketing.


5. Set aside time on your calendar at the end of every quarter to review and revise as needed. Most of your competition is not taking the time to do this! As this becomes part of your habit of building a successful business, you will certainly have the best year ever in 2018 and beyond!

Photo of Mary Ann

Mary Ann consistently ranks as one of the Global Top 100 Business Coaches in the World and is the owner of one of the largest ActionCOACH firms in North Carolina. Her passion lies in helping businesses grow and business owners lead while building strong workplaces where people and communities thrive. Each week she mentors one on one, approximately 20 businesses around the world (including Fifth Letter), and she group coaches hundreds of others.