Strategic Planning: 8 Powerful Ideas to Start Your Year Off Right

Content was originally published on on February 2, 2017.

Leading your company is never easy. A key function is for you to craft a clear strategy and map for the coming year.

Here are my top 7 strategic planning suggestions to help you start your year off in the most powerful and profitable way possible.

1. Clarify the business you are trying to build. Too many business owners never stop and clarify in writing the business they are working so hard to create.

What does your ideal business look like in 3-5 years?

What does it look like quantitatively? (E.g. What are its sales figures… its market share… its margins… the size of the average client… etc.)

What does it look like qualitatively? (E.g. What is it known for… what niches does it focus on… who are its best customers… what does the team look like… etc.)

What is your role in the company going to be at that time?

2. What is your single biggest “short term limiting factor” inside your business? In other words, what one limitation is currently doing the most to limit the growth and success of your business over the next 3-6 months? Getting clear on your short term limiting factor is a key guidepost of where one of your key company focuses needs to be.

3. What is your single biggest “term limiting factor” inside your business? I’ll define “long” term as over the next 2-5 years, what’s the biggest limitation to the growth and success of your business. Getting clear on your long term limiting factor(s) gives you insights to the capabilities that you’ll likely need to develop. And developing capabilities often takes time, hence the importance of looking further ahead to plan in advance. CAUTION: you can’t make too many big bets on things that you expect to pay off in 3-5 years or longer if you don’t have the staying power to be around then. So when in doubt, put more resources on things that pay dividends this year versus 3-5 years out. This is especially important for younger companies with less reserves. Of course you need to be aware of your long term needs, just make an intentional balance that gets you to that future you’re so busy planning for.

4. What are 10 potential ways to push back or make both your short-term and longer term limiting factors less limiting for your business? Push yourself to come up with at least 10 potential ideas. Don’t settle for less. Remember, both your short and long term limiting factors are challenges worth solving. When you do solve them, you automatically grow your business in a leveraged way!

5. For each limiting factor, go back through your list of 10 “solutions” and note each solution that is a “low hanging fruit.” That means that the solution is either easy to implement or has a high likelihood of working. Mark it with a “LH”.

6. Go back through your list of 10 “solutions” and note each solution that is a “home run”. A home run is a solution that if it works, the payoff is BIG! Mark that idea with a “HR”.

7. Determine your “sweet spots”. Go back to your above two lists for short term and long term limiting factors. Which of your ideas was both a low hanging fruit and a home run? Circle those solutions, they are your “sweet spots”. By definition these are the critical areas you need to invest the best resources inside your business. They are easy to do/high likelihood of working and they have a BIG payoff. This is where your best resources should go.

8. Leverage the power of THREE. What are your top three strategic results you are looking to accomplish this year? Now reduce this back to Q1. What are the top three strategic focuses for you to prioritize in Q1 of this year?

There is a reason why I counsel business owners to pick a maximum of 3 strategic focuses each quarter on their quarterly plan of action – any more would split their efforts and lead to overwhelm, and overwhelm leads to inaction or unfocused action. Be realistic as to what you can in fact do as a business each quarter. But be relentless in the discipline of creating your clarified action plan each and every quarter.

I hope these eight ideas help you start the year off in a profitable and powerful way. Good luck.

Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for and, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.