Well all that April “foolery” is over for another year and the pranksters can claim victories and acknowledge failures while storing away some ideas for next year.  While many of the successful pranks were just spur-of-the-moment events, others required considerable planning and resources to be effective.

Blog: Don't be April Fooled - plan strategically

And the start of April is also the start of the final quarter for the financial year and the need to tidy up the unfinished business of 2016 as well as the opportunity to start thinking strategically about next year’s goals.

Most business owners think strategically all the time (while doing other things) but a focussed planning session to carefully plan and crystallise those thoughts is still an excellent opportunity to move your business forward.

All successful plans (strategic or otherwise) have clear objectives so everyone involved knows which direction to head and when the objective is reached.  Stating the objective in clear terms gives you and your team a laser focus that is missing from more general “move towards” type statements.

Adding dates, required actions and allocating responsibilities will add clarity to your strategic objectives.

Allocating responsibilities automatically addresses the issue of resources.  No successful plan can be implemented without the appropriate resources.  Knowing what resources are needed, where these can be sourced (internal or from an external provider) and the timing of the needed resources all has to be considered.

While using internal resources is a more economical option and is more likely to help with team commitment to the plan, you also need to be realistic.  Unless you have a high level of redundancies in your business, everyone has productive work to do now so any allocation of new responsibilities needs to ensure the “normal” operation of the business is not compromised.

Any plan is subject to the tyranny of unfolding events.  It is never possible to be completely accurate with predictions so it will always be necessary to revisit the strategy, assess its effectiveness in the light of current events and make the appropriate adjustments.

Organising review meetings to assess progress is an important part of the process and helps to refocus everyone on the strategy.  It is so easy for the day-to-day activities to swamp less urgent but (ultimately) more important activities. Committing to a rigorous review process will maximise results.

So, as the mornings start to become a little cooler and the days even shorter, take some time to refine your strategic ideas for your business, allocate the necessary resources and commit to the process so next year has more than an even chance of being better than this year. And do all that while finishing off this year strongly.  Gotta love being in business!