The 7 Questions to Ask Before Planning for Next Year

Before sitting down to start working on your plan for 2007, I suggest you give yourself the advantage of a retrospective on 2006.

A year is actually a long time in business. And often the best prepared plans don’t get carried out for a variety of reasons. One of the most frequent reasons is unexpected challenges and new opp0rtunities that come up along the way. When they do, we can easily end up off our planned course.

Since we are always using our Long Term Vision to guide our planning, year-end is the time to review that Long Term Vision against what you’ve learned during the year. In looking at the past year I find it’s helpful to ask 7 specific questi0ns and use the answers as a reference in creating next year’s plan. It’s a good idea to write the answers to these questi0ns. In reviewing them once completed, you’ll be able to see what otherwise might have been missed.

Here are the questi0ns I ask.

1 – What were my 3 Priority Goals for 2006?

If you didn’t prioritize your goals at the beginning of the year, do so n0w. If you don’t have written goals (uh oh) write them down n0w. If you find this difficult, lack of clear goals could be why you are frustrated when faced with unplanned challenges and decisions.

My number one goal for 2006 was to finish the Business Success System Course and sell 200 before year end.

2 – How close did I come to reaching these Goals? (Use percentage)

Chances are you didn’t reach them all 100%. Just make a best guesstimate as to what percent you would attribute to your progress: 80%, 50%, 20%. You actually may have dropped one of them or decided to change course at some point during the year. If so, 0% may be appropriate.

I met my number one goal at about 80%. I did finish the Course, but much later than I had planned. So I will end up with $ales at about half of what was planned.

3 – What were my successes?

Achieving a goal can be considered a success. So are things like making a valuable connection that opened new opp0rtunities, being able to pay off or hiring a “right” person for a critical job. What were your successes? Don’t stop writing until you’ve exhausted all possibilities. Successes are a good foundation to build on next year.

In addition to the Course, one of my several successes was of a personal nature. I have always loved to paint, especially using water color. I’ve given myself the time (on my calendar) to paint at least one hour per week. My calendar tends to get very full, so it’s important that I honor my time boundaries.

4 – What worked? What didn’t?

Consider your actions. Did they produce the results you wanted? Did your actions correspond to what you had planned? Did something (internal or external) interfere with your actions, or your results? If you took planned action and didn’t get the planned results, consider it as not working. Gathering and writing these can be eye-opening.

Something that didn’t work for me this year was trying to work on revamping my website while I was busy completing the Course and putting the marketing campaign in place. I just couldn’t focus on two major things at once.

5 – What did I learn?

You might realize that your marketing efforts didn’t pay off. Ask why not. It may mean tweaking your message, your media or your market. It may mean tweaking your product or service to be more attractive to your market. You may have learned that you sell more when you use a 3-step process than trying to sell in one step. There’s bound to be lots of lessons to consider from what you’ve gathered so far.

One of the most amazing things I learned is that there are lots of you out there in the small business community who had been waiting for the Business Success System Course. My early research had told me that; the $ales confirmed it.

6 – Which Goals do I want to carry forward into next year?

There may be a next step to goals you achieved. If so, consider them as goals for next year. For each incomplete goal, you may want to update or modify it in some way. You may also consciously choose to drop a goal, especially if it no longer fits into your Long Term Vision and Goals.

The next step in my plan is to expand my marketing reach to a wider audience through strategic alliances, joint ventures and database development.

7 – How can I bring next year’s Goals into better alignment with my Long Term Vision and Goals?

This is the perfect time to update your Long Term Vision and Goals based on what you learned in doing your Year-End Review. Maybe you’ve just changed your mind about some things. That’s fine. Make the changes to your written Long Term Vision and Goals. Consider what you can realistically accomplish within 2007 that will move you another year closer to success as defined by your updated Long Term Vision and Goals.

Expanding the reach of my market is a critical step toward reaching my Long Term Vision and Goals. That goal is definitely in line with my Long Term Vision of providing the Business Success System,, to all small business owners who realize it’s exactly what they need n0w.


Write the answers to these questi0ns for your own business. Then bring what you learn forward into your 2007 Plan and Goals. Use your Plan as the point of reference for all decisions you will face during the coming year. It will definitely help you to stay on course.

Here’s to a strong and profitable 2007!