By Paul Malek, AEM Membership Director
The days are getting shorter and the kids are off to school. Summer vacation is over, and as the pace at home and work picks up, I’m not sure which is more challenging – getting back into the fall routine or working on our annual business plan and budget for 2017.
Experts agree that an annual business plan is critical to consistent, healthy business growth. They also agree that a business plan should be written down and shared with all who are responsible for its goals and objectives.
Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, an annual business plan can be hundreds of pages or just a few.
Whatever the volume, however, it should include the following five elements, according to Donna Bletzinger, president of Dyer Stephenson, a marketing consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning for growing businesses:
1. Situation Analysis
A situation analysis defines the current situation, and it must be an objective assessment. It's not a marketing pitch for your clients; rather, it's an honest description of where you are today. Look at revenues from the past three years. How do they compare with those of your closest competitors?
2. The Market
Do an in-depth assessment of your competition and their marketing strategy. Who are your toughest competitors? What are they doing to entice customers to buy their products or services? Are they doing something that you aren't?
3. Positioning Your Product or Service
What is unique about your product or service? If you can't express what makes your product or service different, review why your customers bought from you in the past and then think about why they might buy from you in the future.
4. Setting Objectives
All the analysis you have done so far in your business plan is lost unless you absorb the data and use it to set objectives for the coming year. Objectives should include projections for monthly revenues, the number of clients you will need to reach those monthly revenue goals, etc.
This may be the most important section of your plan. Based on the situation analysis, your competitors, your positioning statements, and your objectives, it's time to define how you are going to reach your goals. What strategies will you use to meet your financial and product and services goals next year?
Add AEM Services into Your Plan
As you are working on your business plan, don’t forget that AEM is here to help.
AEM offers members a wide array of products and services that can be integrated into your plan to help you achieve your business objectives. Examples include market data (including market statistics reporting), regulatory developments, industry-consensus safety materials, assistance with global business development and trade show space discounts, just to name just a few.
We want to be sure that you and your company are getting the most from AEM. We want you to maximize your membership investment.
Finally, remember to make your AEM membership renewal and 2017 dues part of your budget!
Now, take action and watch your business grow!