A new business year is just around the corner. Although you’re probably busy wrapping up this year’s projects, it’s not too early to start thinking about what steps you’re going to take to make next year even better. Creating an annual interior design business plan can help you do that.
Make time to plan
Before you even begin to create your annual interior design business plan, start by blocking out time to think, reflect and plan. That includes time spent with your team. Do it now, before the holidays, so it does not get lost in the shuffle when you come back to work.
Assess your progress
Give yourself some private, quiet time to review how well you performed against the previous year’s business plan.
- Did you achieve your goals?
- Did you have to modify your plan, and if so, why?
- What did you do really well?
- What could you have done better?
- What do you need—people, resources, time—to move closer to achieving your vision for yourself and your business?
Later, when you get together with your team, review the same questions with them. You likely will find they will have valuable information, insights and perspectives that did not occur to you.
Focus on practical, achievable results
There’s a time to think big, a time to think strategically, and a time to put those thoughts into action. An annual interior design business plan aims to set out the specific steps and means by which the business will strive to reach its goals and make progress toward achieving its vision. Practical matters, such as the allocation of resources and personnel, projects and innovations and upgrades are covered in the annual plan.
Identify the elements of the plan
Compile a list, in very concrete, specific terms, of what you want to accomplish in the coming year.
- Do you want to attract more clients?
- Do you want to increase revenues or profit?
- Do you want to grow the business in a new direction or expand into new markets?
- Do you want to raise the firm’s visibility?
Choose no more than two or three main goals. Remember, you still have to keep up with your other work while you are in the process of growing.
Adopt a planning process
To create a solid annual interior design business plan, one that will guide you through the year and not be forgotten a month later, follow a methodical planning process. You can find many examples and guides by doing a quick internet search. This template, courtesy of strategic consultancy GrowThink, covers all the basics. It consists of six steps:
- Define the company’s overall vision and strategy.
- Set specific, measurable goals and objectives for the year.
- Identify the resources needed to achieve these goals.
- Create a timeline for each goal and objective.
- Assign responsibility for each goal and objective to specific individuals or teams.
- Review and revise the plan on a regular basis.
Establish procedures for measuring and charting your progress
In step two above, you’ve crafted measurable goals and objectives. Now you need to commit to a disciplined method by which you are going to measure them. Decide on what is a meaningful measurement for each. In some cases that may be increased revenues, profits or client requests. In other cases, the measurements may be more subjective. No matter, they still need to be measured somehow in a way that everyone on the team can agree on whether they’re making progress on that goal or not.
Next, determine how often you need to take those measurements. That will vary with each goal and objective. Some may reveal progress (positive or negative) weekly, some monthly, some quarterly. Block out time on the calendar to post and review those measurements.
Develop a budget and a marketing plan
Two essential tools you will need to follow through on and achieve your annual interior design business plan are a marketing plan as well as a budget and cash flow plan. In step three above you identified the resources you’ll need—people, time, materials and equipment, finances. Now you need to nail down where the funds are going to come from and when you need them. A budget will help ensure your business remains financially healthy so you can focus your energies on the things that matter more.
You need to have revenues coming in to cover costs. That’s why you need a marketing plan. It’s essential that you have business in the pipeline throughout the year. You can’t rely on business finding you. Commit to spending time and resources each week on marketing, no matter how busy you are.
Schedule monthly and quarterly reviews
An annual interior design business plan is like a roadmap for your business. No map is of any use if you never look at it. Alas, that is the fate of many a business plan. Block out time with your team each month and each quarter to review the business plan, check your progress, and make changes if necessary. Celebrate your successes. Analyze what’s not going so well and discuss what you can do to fix it. Toss whatever no longer seems relevant. Embrace new opportunities, as long as they don’t distract you from achieving your goals.
Creating an annual interior design business plan needn’t be drudgery. Treat it as a process of exploration, of ideation and aspiration, of envisioning your desired future in all its details. In short, engage as you would with any design process. You are, in fact, designing the future of your business.