Strategy PlansBy now, you’ve probably written your small business plan for next year or are close to wrapping it up. You’ve done your marketplace due diligence, so you know what you expect in terms of customer needs, trends, and competitive offerings. Your plan includes operational and management considerations, possible new offerings, marketing goals and strategies on and offline and your budget. As the clock strikes 12:01  a.m. on January 1, you’re ready to be off and running. Or are you?

We’ve all learned from past experiences that it often takes more than a well thought-out document to take your business – or any endeavor for that matter — to the next level. When you have too many day-to-day distractions, it’s easy to put your plans on the back burner. If your team lacks cohesion or clarity, you may not have the support to accomplish what you set out to.

Here are my recommendations to make sure your plans for 2013 get off the ground and move your business to the next level:

Keep your eye on the goal: Your business plan isn’t just about accomplishing a series of steps; it’s about achieving a goal. Make sure the goal is clear and the focus of everything your company does over the course of the year.

Foster a team spirit: You can’t move your business ahead on your own. There’s a role for everyone on your team to take your company to the next level. Everyone needs to understand their role as well as the importance in working in sync with each other.

It’s not just the destination; it’s the journey: Like any trip, getting there is half the adventure. In the case of taking your business to the next level, inspire your team to enjoy the journey. It will keep them motivated even when there are setbacks.

Be open to change: Along the way, situations change that impact your business. Assess these changes against your overall goals and make adjustments accordingly.  Change doesn’t mean you need to reset your goals; it just may mean you need to change course on how you get your small business there.

Fix problems quickly and move on: If something goes wrong, internally or with customers, partners or suppliers, fix the problem quickly and don’t let it detract you from doing what it takes to reach your goals.

Take time to assess:  Along the way, evaluate where you are. Your plan should include some metrics and/or a checklist that you review to make sure you are on track or need to make changes.

Your goal for the coming year doesn’t have to be complex or lofty. It just needs to be something that keeps your business moving toward the vision that inspired you from the start.