One of the most important things we can do as business owners is HAVE A PLAN for our business in the coming year. Those who don’t often end up where they didn’t want to be by year’s end, underperform, or just plan “put out fires” all year long.
What are the things you should have in place for 2018? Here’s my “top ten” list … and that doesn’t mean these should be the only things on your list.
- Have a business plan – in the least, a one page business plan. Never had one? Try out Jim Horan’s One Page Business Plan. It will make it almost painless to get your plan in writing.
- Schedule your team meetings for the entire year now. If you wait until you have time, you’ll not get it done. If you don’t get it on your schedule, you’ll be dealing with brush fires all year long.
- Schedule individual meetings with each team member to help them develop their professional goals for the coming year … and how they will be achieving them.
- Have a budget written down. If you’ve never done one, the first time might be painful, but don’t let that stop you. Those who have a budget and do their best to adhere to it are more profitable than those who don’t track what they spend and know when enough is enough.
- Plan your vacation times now. You may not know where or what you’ll do, but waiting until the last minute will be disruptive to your practice.
- Update your financial plan. Don’t have a financial planner? You really should. A certified financial planner is essential for professionals.
- Schedule meetings with your CPA at least in June, September and December – more if you want. Get feedback on your tax situation so you don’t get a big surprise at tax time. There are new tax laws in effect, so get with your CPA early this year to know how it will affect you.
- Plan your own professional growth. Most of us are required to have a certain amount of CE, so that should be planned now and not at the last minute. However, what about your development as a leader and manager? How about what you will do to be a better communicator with your team and your clients? This severely overlooked area of professional development is what I help dentists with all the time!
- Implement a marketing plan for this year NOW. I recommend focusing on internal marketing, and then external marketing. To do this, you must know your ”brand”; in other words, why would someone choose you? What can they expect if they do? Most people view all dentists as the same, so how will you truly differentiate yourself? Break down your marketing plan into quarters, trying new things each quarter, ditching those that don’t benefit you and continuing those that do help you. Whatever you do, avoid giving a marketing firm “carte blanche” with your money. Marketing ideas are like fishing lures: the lures catch more fishermen than they do fish.
- Identify the top areas of your practice that are under-performing and make plans to address these early in the year (like now …). Monitor everything, since monitoring will improve outcomes. Remember to involve your team HEAVILY. After all, they are working for you, and they generally want to help. If they don’t, maybe they’re not right for your team.