It’s time to prepare your business for 2021. Some may say you should have done that already. They’re not wrong, yet given the realities of business and the crush of end of year work, you may not have made it a priority. If that is the case, you still have four weeks left until 2021, and this 4 part series will get you ready to put together your plan of attack. Here is the breakdown of each weekly theme.

Welcome to the fourth and final post of our series on preparing your business for 2021. Today we will discuss the final step – how to Set Your 2021 Priorities. Priorities are different from the Goals which we discussed last week. Where Goals are specific, measurable, and graphable, Priorities are the work to be done. In this post, we will break down how to create your priorities, critical elements for each of them, and tracking your progress.

Set Your 2021 Priorities – How Do We Determine the Work to Be Done?

In our last post, we discussed creating goals and strategies for your business. As you review the goals (measurable, graphable numbers) and strategies (how you will run the company), you will notice gaps between your current capabilities and future desired capabilities. Each of these gaps is something you need to build to achieve your goals or execute your strategies.

Make a list of these significant business building projects for your company. These become your priorities or action plans for your business over the next 12 months. Sharpen your pencil and get that list down to 5 to 7 projects and no more than nine you will focus on in 2021.

Then take one step further and spread these projects out over the year. Ideally, you want no more than 3 of these significant business building projects per quarter. When you have more than three significant projects in a quarter, you risk losing focus, overworking your team, and potentially failing.

How to Build Your Priorities / Action Plans

Our next step in creating our priorities is to build a framework for each of them that we can use for consistent execution and equal evaluation of progress.

The first thing we want to identify is what the ROI of the project we are undertaking is? What is the financial return? It could be increased works, reduced expense, or increased efficiency. You may even consider things like employee engagement, customer retention, and similar concepts.

The next step is identifying the major milestones for the project. To do this, envision the successful and timely completion of your project. Then, travel backward in time to the start of the project. What significant accomplishments in the action plan did you achieve, and by when? Write down each of those accomplishments and their due date. Refine each of them, and they become your major milestones.

A few other areas to lock down in your action plan before we move to the final step. Define:

  • The action plan budget
  • The key person responsible for leading the project
  • Identify the essential resources required for project completion.

How to Track Progress on Your 2021 Priorities

This final step is crucial for your success. Every month set aside time with your team or with yourself and hold a monthly business review. During this review, you want to accomplish two things. The first is to review your progress against your goals. The second is to track progress against each of your priorities.

When you review your progress against your goals, you are going to be making some comparisons. First, compare your actual results against both your prior year numbers. Are you ahead or behind last year? Is your trajectory the same or better than last year? The next piece is to compare your actuals against your plan. Are you on the plan, ahead or behind? Think about why you are in that position. And, what changes does that necessitate, if any, in your strategies for your business?

The final piece on goals is to forecast any changes in your goals against your plan. Why? First, you want to assess new trajectories based on current results. Second, you want to evaluate that impact on the rest of your business. Will you need more production or people? Perhaps you will need to change the timeline on an action plan.

The second thing you will track in your business is how you are doing against your action plans. Check in to see if you are tracking against your milestones? Essentially, is your project on time? You will also want to assess if you are on budget. The final piece is to check in on overall progress. Answer the simple question of what percent complete is this project?

And, that’s it. In just four steps, you can create a plan to get your business ready for 2021. If you don’t have a plan, it’s impossible to assess your success. But you don’t have to make it complicated. We can fit everything presented in this series on just one page.

Do you need some help putting it together? Our Master Class, Business Strategy to Success, will cover this and more starting on January 4th, 2021. You can register here.

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