Spring cleaning often focuses on the daily detritus we accumulate over time. We accomplish the tasks we’ve procrastinated and make the day-to-day functioning a little more streamlined. But any good business owner knows that success means never losing sight of your long-term goals.
So today we’re focusing on a future-minded spring cleaning task list that helps you clear the way for a strong financial future.
1. Create a financial forecast
What is a financial forecast? A financial forecast is a prediction of the economic future—along with how your business will respond.
Developing a business forecast allows you to prepare for the future and respond with agility to changes in the market, rather than just pressing on with your head down. It will take some mathematics and analysis, but it’s worth it to have an enlightened view of what to expect.
Start with what you already have and what you already know—your business. Analyze your business financials for the last year (or several years) to create educated estimates for this year (such as seasonal patterns or observed growth).
Next turn your attention outward. Gather local data such as property values, unemployment and demand for your general area. Global data like stocks and currency valuations can affect your supply chain and raw material prices. Political and economic data such as new legislation and Federal Reserve controls can provide insight to future markets and economic changes.
Create your forecast
With this data, finance and executive professionals should be able to make some basic predictions about the future of your business. You can anticipate the market needs and prepare for disruptions or seasonal shifts. We recommend creating specialized forecasts relevant to your business and industry, such as a sales forecast or a demand forecast. Don’t be afraid to use a variety of forecasting methods to see what the results may be.
Use the forecasts you’ve created to better inform your business strategy and decisions by combining, overlaying, and discussing various possibilities. (It always helps to have a Plan B and Plan C just in case.)
Not sure how to get started forecasting your business future? Read our guide on 4 major forecasting types.
2. Refresh your business plan and goals
Your goals need to be flexible and frequently monitored if they’re actually going to result in progress. It’s okay if the goals you set were too lofty or your business plan has evolved. Make the necessary adjustments and refocus your vision for better results.
Dust off your business plan
When was the last time you really scrutinized your business plan? A business plan is not just for acquiring investors or funding. It’s a road map to where you want to go. Gather your executive team, dust off your business plan, and put on your critical thinking cap. Discuss the business plan—is it working? Do we need to adjust?
Take this time to review your performance on key business objectives and goals front the last month, quarter, or even year. Did you hit your targets? Why or why not? What can you do with this information to make better decisions?
Revise your strategy
Utilizing your updated financial forecasts and current perspective, rewrite your business plan and business goals to align with your overall strategy. Crowdsource from employees and stakeholders to be sure future goals align with company values and strategy. Be sure to share this new business plan and goal set with your company so you can all win together.
Need help with strategy and budgeting? Download our Strategic Budgets guide
3. Retool your marketing strategy
It’s far too easy to get stuck in a marketing rut. Especially because marketing is always changing. It’s the perfect time to refresh your marketing efforts and try something new.
Inventory everything you’re doing right now, how it’s working, and how much you’re spending. Really dive into the analytics to see where you’re getting the best ROI. Use this time to clean up your profiles, delete outdated or subpar posts, and tidy up existing campaigns. Determine gaps in your marketing and social strategies (i.e. do you use enough video? What’s the weakest part of your customer journey?).
What are other businesses using for marketing? Are there new tools or approaches you could try? Do some research into new practices and resources for marketing your industry. Ask your team what they think you could be doing better to reach more customers.
Go to market
Armed with your analysis of what’s been working and the research of the current consumer climate, create a new marketing approach. Whether it’s as small as an increase in social engagement or the launch of an entire cross-platform awareness campaign, determine a new approach with the greatest likelihood of success. Launch your new strategy and track the results.
If it isn’t successful, don’t despair. Learn and pivot so you’re always ready for the next challenge. Marketing is about creativity, but it’s important that you’re always keeping track of costs.
Clear the path
When you invest in long-term planning, you invest in your future. Managing your daily tasks will only get you so far, but keeping your end goal in mind can help you make more effective decisions with better results.
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