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Business planning for sales growth in 2023

Forecasting can be daunting, but HoneyBook is here to help. From making time to set goals to assessing a reasonable metric, our goal is to help you reach yours!

Independent business owner plans 2023.
Get ready to reflect on 2022 for a stellar 2023.

If you’re a creative entrepreneur looking to boost sales in 2023, business planning will be a catalyst for your growth. Let’s be honest — the past two years have been full of ups and downs for all business owners. To move forward with confidence, we need to leverage new ways to set ourselves up for success in the long run. 

Before opening your doors, there’s a good chance you created a business plan. From goals to financial projections, you covered the ins and outs of your new venture. But when was the last time you sat down and made time for business planning? Have you updated your original business plan since its creation?

If the answer is a sheepish “no,” that’s okay! It’s never too late to learn how to plan for the new year. If you’re not a fan of planning, you’re not alone. Planning is vital if you hope to surpass your sales goals in 2023. Planning is how we can look to the future while using what we’ve learned thus far. 

You likely started with a few offers or services you thought you’d love but have gradually shifted over the years. Maybe you’ve changed your target audience after realizing you weren’t quite as passionate about things as you thought. Or, you broadened your reach to work with clients who could afford you.

Whatever it is, know that pivoting is natural. However, planning is what helps us avoid any unexpected bumps as we work to grow and expand. Here’s how you can revamp your business planning for sales growth in 2023.

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Ensure you’ll actually set goals in 2023

The hardest part of business planning is setting aside time to do it. Real talk — most entrepreneurs spend Q3 and Q4 working hard to bring clients in for the remainder of the year. We’re trying to create an exceptional client experience, but in that, we adopt an “I’m so busy” mindset that makes it challenging for us to sit down and plan for the future of our business.

Before we know it, it’s January 1st, and we haven’t created a roadmap for how our business will flourish in the year ahead. Most entrepreneurs keep goals in their heads and never write them down, much less look at each quarter to see how things are going.

So, what’s your first step? Giving yourself grace. Throw “should-a, would-a, could-a” out the door and start! It’s tough, but you have the courage and confidence you need to begin. Try these techniques the next time you’re struggling: 

Time block your calendar

Carve out space on your calendar, and label it “work on business planning for 2023” in 90-minute increments for the next couple of weeks. Aim for at least three sessions. This way, you can flush out ideas and fully digest your ideas before your next business planning session. 

Keep a file for notes

Sometimes, our creative genius strikes in the most random places — at the grocery store, picking up takeout or while trying to read a book and unwind. That’s why keeping a running note on your computer, phone or notepad is essential.

Business planning doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll have a-ha moments and idea droughts. Having a space to jot down a-ha notes makes it easy to revisit them later during one of your business planning sessions.

Hold yourself accountable

Raise your hand if you’ve ever told yourself you’d do something for your business, only to continue pushing it to the bottom of your to-do list. If your hand is up, you’re not alone! Business owners are incredibly busy, and most of the time, we struggle to put ourselves and our business first.

To truly take advantage of your business planning sessions, remember to hold yourself accountable. This might mean rewarding yourself after your session wraps (think: your favorite spot for dinner!) or having one of your team members keep you honest. Whatever motivates you, integrate it into business planning. 

Why you need a business plan for the new year

Having a solid business plan is the best way for you to measure your company’s successes and challenges over the past year. Business planning will allow you to answer these questions:

  • What were your most outstanding achievements?
  • What were your biggest challenges? How did you move past them? 
  • How did your team perform in the last 12 months?

An annual business plan sets the expectations for you as CEO and your team members who contribute to your organization’s success. It’s vital to reflect on what you’ve learned and why you made the decisions you did. Plus, business planning allows you to accurately set projections for the year ahead. 

Sometimes, when we don’t plan, we aren’t sure of what we’ve accomplished. Mysteries make for fun novels, but when building an empire, we must know what’s happening and why! Formulating a plan provides clarity and ensures you feel less anxious about what’s coming.

What to include in your business plan

Now that you’re ready to dive into business planning, a few things should be at the top of your list. Make sure your business plan includes:

  • Your overall vision for your company and its direction in the coming year.
  • The structure of your team and how each role contributes to the success of your business. (For independents, create a vision for hiring your first employee or contractor to help you achieve your goals.)
  • A marketing strategy that details how much you’ll spend to speak to your niche of prospects.
  • A competitive analysis that digs deep into your industry and how businesses like yours are approaching 2023.
  • A detailed breakdown of how you make money and from which services you receive the most income.
  • Revenue goals and how you’re going to reach them (e.g., Will you offer a new service? Increase pricing? Expand your reach?)
  • The most significant goals you want to achieve in the new year.
  • The biggest challenges you want your business to overcome.

A complete business plan will cover each of these areas. However, it’s wise to break these areas down and only cover three or so during each planning session. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed by where your focus should lie!

Setting actionable sales goals

Like most entrepreneurs struggle to establish their pricing, many also struggle to set achievable sales goals. It’s more complex than stating, “I want to make $100k+ this year.” When setting sales goals, you can do a few things to ensure yours are right for your business. 

Work backward

Often, it’s easier to work backward from your end goal for the upcoming year. For example, if you want to increase your revenue by 40%, consider what you made in 2022 and calculate the percentage from there. This goal is much more sustainable than a vague number you pull out of a hat, because it’s got prior success to back it up! 

Break things down

Now that you have a number in mind, you may feel overwhelmed — this is normal! That’s why breaking down your sales goals into smaller steps is important. Think small to make it big. 

For example, if your goal is to increase your sales by 40%, small action steps may be:

  • Offering a new service at the beginning of Q2 for $XX per client
  • Attending XX networking events each quarter
  • Outsourcing XX tasks to a contractor so you have more time to spend with clients
  • Implementing a referral program in Q3 to generate new leads 

Consider your past efforts

Before you move forward, remember it’s okay to look back. In fact, it’s smart to revisit the past in your business! Think about the steps you took to achieve your revenue goals last year. What worked? Was it an increase in marketing efforts? Or was it networking with others in your industry? Diving into the past will set you up for success when business planning.

Set annual and quarterly goals

Though having a big overarching goal is excellent, combining annual and quarterly goals will keep you focused and working toward that pie-in-the-sky number. These smaller goals also make your tasks feel less daunting, as you’ll have action steps you can take to move forward. Here are some of the benefits of setting annual goals: 

  • Supporting your overall mission: these goals should maintain the objectives you set for your business.
  • Providing a foundation: annual goals provide a sense of direction for your team and their responsibilities. 
  • Clarifying your intent: as entrepreneurs, we sometimes get caught up in going through the motions. Annual goals empower you to carry out your vision and remind you why you’re so passionate about what you do. 

Some of the benefits of setting quarterly goals are as follows:

  • Creating harder deadlines: if you’re no stranger to pushing things to the bottom of your to-do list, setting quarterly goals will allow you to stay on track.
  • Reviewing company growth: at the end of each quarter, check your progress and make necessary adjustments (rather than having that “oh crap!” feeling at the end of the year). 
  • Focusing on tasks: the more you break things down, the more team members can concentrate on how they can help complete each goal.

Avoiding unrealistic or unattainable goals

The last thing you want is to hit the ground running with your business plan, only to find your goals are too unrealistic to reach! It’s fun to dream big, but setting your sights too high will only leave you feeling like you’ve failed — when in reality, you just didn’t consider the whole picture! So here’s how to make your business planning sessions more realistic: 

Revisit your annual plan

This is why annual planning is so incredibly important. Make sure you and your team understand your long-term goals and how you want to accomplish them. Then, you can all work together to surpass them!

Create actionable steps

Remember what we said about breaking things down? You’ll want to apply that when you’re setting every one of your goals. Break them down into smaller action steps. Targeted focus areas help remove the overwhelm and keep your eyes on the (attainable!) prize. 

Set benchmarks and timeline dates to achieve each of your goals. When you put a date on an item, it becomes top of mind and you’ll be able to concentrate on achieving it. 

Embrace the power of delegation

Mapping out which team members are responsible for what will allow your team to stay in their zone of genius. Instead of jumping from task to task, all employees and contractors should clearly understand their responsibilities. Be crystal clear in communicating the goals you’ve set, so everyone is on the same page. And don’t be afraid to hire help if you need it.

Celebrate your hard work

Entrepreneurs wear many hats, but remember to break out your party hat every once in a while! To meet your goals, you must remind yourself of your wins — big and small. All the things you’ve done have led you to this point and acknowledging your hard work will help you move forward with a new sense of motivation. Inspire your team, celebrate your achievements, and always thank those who have helped you meet your goals.

Moving forward with confidence

As you add business planning to your never-ending to-do list, know this — you’ve got it! The hardest part is starting. It’s helpful to remember the end game and how it will feel when you’ve built a business plan that is exciting, strategic, and easy to implement. 2022 may have been an incredible year, but with careful planning, 2023 is sure to be even better!

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