New year, new business plan.  Or at least an updated one.

The exercise of changing to new calendars and scheduling books can be exciting.  We get to start all over with literally a clean sheet of paper – or an empty planner, as the case may be.

At the beginning of every year I like to review the Business 101 basics to make sure my business is still on the right track.  Things change, and it is good to have a set of simple rubrics to see where you are and decide where you are going.

First, consider the high-level ways you describe your business and what you are all about.  Vision:  What do you want to be?  What kind of a business are you trying to build?  Mission:  How do you intend to accomplish that vision?  What do you make and sell to turn that vision into reality?  Purpose: Why does your business exist?  What customer need are you filling?  Values:  What is important to you in how you run your company?  What do you and your brand stand for?

Next, set annual goals.  Choose a theme for the year to help you concentrate your efforts on what currently matters most.  What one thing resonates as the most important issue to growth and success?  Within that theme, can you choose three areas of focus?  Select three areas of your business that you are going to try and improve week after week.  How will you measure improvement?

Develop your strategy and your plan of action for achieving those goals.  Determine as best you can what you need to do and what resources you need in order to realize your Vision, Mission and Purpose.  Those three together represent “why” you are in business.  The Strategy is “what” you need to do.  The Plan is “how” you are going to get it done.  The Budget is “how much” you need to spend and how much you hope to profit.

What does success look like, one year from now?  Visualizing where you want to be helps you take that first step towards a prosperous 2017 for your business.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...