As we continue to tackle the serious situations caused by COVID-19, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that the vaccine now exists. It may take a while for distribution to take place in an effective manner, but at least we know the vaccine is here. The bad news is that we need to anticipate an indefinite lockdown as the virus continues to spread. It is important to set goals based on learning to live with this pandemic in our business and daily lives.
Tom Himmer, Vice-President @ Inspirity, in his article for Bizjournals.com entitled How to Develop a Business Plan for 2021 suggests the following steps that can be taken to develop a strong business plan as we enter 2021:
Embrace reality. Based on these unprecedented times and an uncertain economy, it is difficult to predict the future. For that reason, organizations should embrace reality and develop a plan based on existing conditions. To help determine the current state of affairs, business leaders should conduct a thorough analysis of their company to help devise a long-term plan for 2021.
Set conservative projections. Currently, many economic forecasts indicate a modest growth rate in 2021. That said, businesses should set optimistic projections: However, with many unknowns lurking, they should be prepared with a modest, more conservative plan. Erring on the side of caution when setting business objectives is wise, while also including stretch goals to motivate and encourage employees.
Incorporate adaptability. Every crisis provides leaders with a chance to examine how it was handled and what to incorporate in the future. Agile leadership has been the key to survival and recovery for many organizations during the pandemic.
Take care of your people. A core element of every business plan should be a “people strategy”. Now more than ever, employers should prioritize taking care of their people — from physical and mental health to quality of life and work-life balance. When companies take care of their people, it leads to more-loyal employees and discretionary efforts.
Plan for unusual scenarios. Based on the dramatic real-world events of late, scenario-planning that addresses specific situations that may arise in the next 12 to 18 months might include: widespread resurgence of COVID-19; additional tools and equipment for remote workers; employees affected by school closures; decrease in product demand; the point at which a reduction in force is necessary; and numerous employees contracting the coronavirus. A long-term strategy that includes various response scenarios will help businesses better navigate the hurdles if or when they occur. As companies reset for 2021 with guarded optimism, employers and employees should be able to feel a renewed sense of positivity.
In the midst of a crisis, the importance of setting goals may be lost. It is my contention that developing goals at this time will insure you are better prepared for a post-pandemic business world. T.A.G. continues to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting. There are many ways to set goals, but the S.M.A.R.T. technique is one of the most popular and simplest to implement.
The acronym “S.M.A.R.T.” stands for:
• Specific – Target a specific area for improvement. Goal should be defined, focused and stated clearly.
• Measurable – You need to be able to quantify an indicator of progress. A measurable goal should include milestones and targets. Numbers don’t lie, you can tell immediately based on your financials if this goal is or is not working. If a goal is not working it is time to adjust and develop a new goal.
• Attainable – Don’t set a goal that is out of reach or in any way unrealistic. Include a plan that breaks down the overall goal into smaller, more manageable action steps.
• Relevant – State what results make sense given the available resources and current conditions of your industry.
• Time-based – Goals cannot be chronologically open-ended. Whether you want to increase revenue by 10% or add two new routes, specify when the result will be achieved. Normally goals have a sense of urgency, but in these uncertain times flexibility is essential. At the same time, you still need to let your staff, customers and suppliers know that you value their time. We must always remember that we are all in this together.
Rachel Drug, writer @ Business.com, suggests the following, “Using the SMART goal strategy, any idea can be set into motion or realigned to suit your company’s needs. A mnemonic for goal-setting basics, SMART helps you prioritize and create concrete plans for your goals. Ask yourself the ‘W’ questions to help make your goal more specific: Who is involved in this goal? What do I want to accomplish? Why do I want to achieve this goal? Where should I implement this goal? When should this goal be completed? Although SMART can help you assess how good your goals are, the sequence won’t serve you that well if you cannot come up with the right goals for your business. SWOT analysis, a high-level strategic-planning model, can help you with that task. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It allows you to understand which projects you should jump into, which areas you must safeguard and which you must improve or work on. Upon identifying these areas, you can create goals for improvement, security, or stability.”
As I write this article, there are many questions for which we do not have any final answers. Following the daily breaking news has become even more essential as we struggle to deal with all the hourly, daily, weekly and, monthly changes.
As Orion Talmay, writer @ FEI Daily, states in his article 5 Tips for Strategic Planning During COVID-19: “When will the lockdown measures come to an end? It depends on the country and the region, obviously, but they’ll need to be lifted slowly even in the best-case scenario according to the World Health Organization and each change will need to be held for a while before it’s possible to tell if it’s making things worse, in which case it will need to be rolled back. Due to this uncertainty, the best thing you can do is expect the lockdown to last indefinitely. Don’t simply assume that everything will be back to normal soon, or even by the end of 2021. This is a once-in-a-generation problem that won’t be solved so neatly. Plan nothing that can’t be achieved primarily through remote working and settle in for the long-haul.”
President-elect Biden announced that “the first day I’m inaugurated , I am going to ask the public to wear a mask for 100 days. Just 100 days to mask, not forever. One hundred days. And I think we will see a significant reduction if we all make the effort.” It is important to note that Biden understands this is a voluntary ask of the American people. The hope of this administration is that the combination of the elevation of Dr. Anthony Fauci to be Chief Medical Advisor to the President, the 100-day mask mandate and the program of vaccinations will all work to control the pandemic. On this hopeful note, write your 2021 goals using the SMART method and have faith that ultimately these actions will get all businesses functioning and up-and-running sooner rather than later.