4 Tips to Effectively Business Plan for 2021

As we near the end of what has been a year of high turbulence and unanticipated events, preparing for a new year can seem like an uphill battle. While it may be easy to dwell on what did not go right in 2020, this year has presented the finance industry with many silver linings. Firms that have toyed with a virtual workspace now have the wherewithal to conduct business digitally. Stale processes have been exposed and have opened the door to a renewed focus on operations. Furthermore, clients have experienced the many practical ways that they can work with their advisor in a world that is going remote.

Considering all of this, here are 4 tips that we recommend as you craft your 2021 business plan.

Avoid Repeating History

Learning from the last 12 months is highly valuable when business planning for the upcoming 12 months. Before you plan for the new year, give yourself the chance to debrief from this year. Also learn from your team what they want to improve from the previous year too. Collect and evaluate business results from 2020, collaborate with your staff, and prioritize which areas you would like to focus on over the next year so when January 1 hits, you have the plan laid out for your team to take action on right away.

Create a WIG

Take a step back and consider your entire business as a whole. What is the most important item you want to tackle in the new year? Do you want to attain a new designation? Are you looking to add a staff member? Do you want to focus on inter-practice culture? Whatever it is, make this your WIG (Wildly Important Goal) for 2021. This is not to say that your other initiatives are less important, but it paints the picture to your team which goal is most important to focus on in the practice in 2021.

Set Short-Term Goals

Putting together an annual business plan is like designing a blueprint to build a house. Once the blueprint is made, each part of the build involves a new step—laying the foundation, building the frame, adding the roof, etc. Think of your annual business plan as a chance to set goals that you want to accomplish by year end, but set short-term goals to evaluate on a quarterly basis. Doing so will provide you with a source of accountability every three months to assess your progress and to avoid getting halfway into the year only to discover you are far short of expectations. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint!

Develop a Strategy Around Your Team

Your people are a vital component to the success of your business. Whether you lead a practice of two or twenty, the personal and professional interests of your team significantly impact the success of your firm. Factor in learning opportunities for team members interested in growth and put together a development plan for staff looking to advance. Ensure that your team has an appropriate work-life balance, especially in the growing environment of remote work. When you value your people, your people will value what is most important to you—your business.

As you prepare to start another leg of the race, make sure to celebrate the success that your practice achieves this coming year and to recognize your team’s efforts. Ideas include holding a virtual happy hour, providing a free lunch, or by sending them a gift card to their favorite spa or golf course. It’s essential that you recognize your team for their commitment to the success of your business as you embark on a new journey in 2021. Your loyalty to them will maintain their commitment to your clients and the long-term success of your practice.

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