We recently published an article outlining a simple (yet effective) approach to business planning which starts with goal setting. We emphasized the need for goals that are both ambitious and attainable by using data points from market realities (what is possible for firms like yours) along with your own historical performance (what is realistic for your firm). Expanding on this, our latest article dives into the latter, outlining more specifically how the past year should serve as guidance for setting goals and executing against them in a way that aligns with your capabilities, speed, culture, and market strengths.
1. Strategic Service Adaptation: Harnessing Client Insights
Reflecting on the past year's client engagements and feedback provides a window into your firm's natural market strengths and areas for expansion. Which services did clients rely on most? Where does your firm shine, and what additional offerings were clients seeking? Are there services you offer that simply aren’t resonating and serve as a distraction to both your internal teams and messaging to the market? Harnessing direct feedback and measuring engagement help you identify not only your current strengths but also emerging opportunities. Act on this intelligence to refine your service offerings and align them more closely with market demand. By looking at feedback through regular check-ins, satisfaction surveys, and project debriefs—you maintain a dynamic understanding of client needs. This process ensures that your firm not only responds to current demands but also anticipates and develops new services that clients value, fostering an environment where innovation is driven by actual need.
2. Operational Capabilities: Aligning Goals with Team Potential
To set achievable goals, it’s essential to conduct a realistic appraisal of your team's current capabilities alongside operational processes. Delve into the past year’s performance to discern not just where efficiency can be enhanced, but also to confront the truth about your team's and culture’s limits. Are there ambitious services you aspire to deliver but currently lack the expertise or capacity to execute? It's vital to match the goals with the true potential of your team, which might sometimes mean refining or even scaling back on plans to fit your firm's authentic execution capacity. This might involve upskilling with targeted training programs, making new hires, or adjusting your goals to align with steps you know can be excellently delivered right now. By doing so, you ensure that the goals for the coming year are not only inspiring but also grounded in the practical realities of your firm’s abilities, fostering sustainable growth and maintaining employee morale.
3. Financial Blueprinting: Investing with Precision for Growth
Last year's financials are not just a record of past performance – a meticulous review of where your earnings were strongest offers a map to your most lucrative practice areas and services. Were there specific investments that brought unexpected returns or, conversely, areas where the ROI didn't meet expectations? Use this data to inform your resource allocation, focusing investment on high-margin areas while considering the divestment from less profitable ones unless they serve a strategic purpose (e.g., providing a “beachhead” to other work). Importantly, “resource allocation” doesn’t just apply to money – it applies to time too. Look for patterns in client spending to anticipate future demand and align marketing and human capital to capitalize on these trends. This financial intelligence informs a budgeting strategy that targets resources toward the most significant opportunities for growth, ensuring that every financial decision is made with an eye toward increasing revenue and profitability, ensuring the financial health of the business.
As we close the chapter on this year, reflection becomes a strategic imperative, not mere reminiscence. It's about harnessing the lessons learned to set realistic, achievable goals that are in sync with your firm’s capacity and the market's demands.
For firms looking to translate reflection into actionable strategy, Maior is your partner in the journey. We bring clarity to your reflections, helping you craft a roadmap for success that’s informed by your firm's unique story and capabilities. Reach out for a consultation to make 2024 a year of realized aspirations and solid growth.