Cream of the crop features a rotating panel from the Harvest Group, a landscape business consulting company.

It’s that time of year when you need to start thinking about having a “plan” for the coming year.

What are your goals 2020? How will you go about setting them?

Business planning is the process of creating a vision of the future, aligning your people, processes, and systems, and creating the necessary steps/goals towards that future. Business planning answers these three primary questions:

  • Current Reality – Where are we today?
  • Goals – Where do we want to be in the future?
  • Action Plan – How are we going to get there?

Getting from here to there.

Now, let’s dig into the steps to creating an annual business plan. A critical path item as you work through this process is to tackle each of the three primary questions separately. The thinking process or mindset for each of these is different.

Step 1. Start with the current reality.

Before you can determine where you are headed, you must first determine where you are at.

Where are you at? What is your “here?” What is current reality? By definition, current reality is the total of all the elements, metrics and factors, internal and external, that are present at a given point in time.

We know that operating from an awareness and acknowledgment of who, what and where your business is, as well as being aware of the factors going on around you, is the only way to be truly in touch with current reality.

You need to be brutally honest with this process in order to create the platform for identifying the goals in Step 2 that will make a real difference in getting you from here to there.

Step 2. Set your goals.

These can be: How much do I want to try to grow my business; and how much profit do I plan to make?

To define them, ask yourself three things:

  • How will this change the company?
  • When will it happen?
  • Who will make this happen?

Describe it. Answer basic questions like:

  • How many employees will we need?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What will you sell them?

Finally, keep your goals simple and few. One of the key benefits of goal setting is to help you focus. Trying to pursue too many goals at the same time can be as bad as not pursuing any.

We recommend from three to maybe five upper-level goals, which all support your top-level strategic plan.

Step 3. Action planning.

Having clear goals is critical. They are also the precursor to the important question of – How am I going to get to THERE?”

First things first, now that you have established your goals. Ask yourself if your goals are S-M-A-R-T:

Specific – What is expected, why is it important and who is going to do it?

Measurable – How will I know if it’s done? How will I know if we’re on track?

Achievable – Is it possible and realistic to succeed?

Relevant – Will achieving this goal drive you toward a meaningful objective?

Time-Based – Specifically, when will the goal be met… or be un-met but finished?

It is an essential part of creating an action plan to achieve each goal to identify...

  • The Who – Who will champion this initiative?
  • The Why Why are we doing this?
  • The What What steps and metrics are we implementing?
  • The WhenCan you give it a timeframe?

If so, it can be a SMART goal. If it fails any one of these tests, then try again. This 3-step model is a clean and simple planning process, and it can give you a quick win for 2020.

If the system works for you, use it to create annual and quarterly goals to plan out your growth from year to year and from season to season. 2020 is coming. It’ll be here sooner than you think. But you still have time to plan for your success. L&L

Contact Fred Haskett at