5 Steps for a Great 2018

Have you ever wondered why some businesses seem to consistently outperform others within the same industry?

There’s a good chance that the better performers employ a strong planning process – one that results in a plan that is well understood by the board, leadership, managers and employees and is actionable. Starting the 2018 calendar year with a well-designed annual plan will better maximize potential business profits and deliver for the owners and employees what they need to have a great year.

Involving your key managers and leaders in the process tends to produce better outcomes, because these individuals have a stake and ownership in helping you build and execute the plan.
Here are 5 key steps ThistleSea recommends for your planning in 2018. They are:

  1. Identify your as-is state.
  2. Draft your plan for 2018.
  3. Present your plan to the stakeholders and adjust.
  4. Budget for impact, cash flow and profit.
  5. Deploy your plan, track progress and adjust.

By taking these steps, you can improve your business and increase your success.

1.      Identify your as-is state.

Assuming a business works on a calendar year (i.e. January 1 – December 31), we suggest you start by preparing your as-is overview, assessing where you are today. Have your managers responsible for each area of the company write a brief document describing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats covering the scope of their department and area of responsibility, including any key metrics tracked. This should be a realistic evaluation and include industry trends, recent experiences and expert evaluation.

2.      Draft your plans for 2018.

While managers are drafting their as-is assessments, they should simultaneously prepare their suggested plans for the next year 2018. Why should these be done at the same time?

As managers are gathering and recording information for the as-is state, they should be thinking:

  • “This is my current revenue, and this is my current number of staff members.” (Record in as-is document.)
  • “Next year, revenue will increase by 10%, and we will require one additional staff member.” (Record in 2018 document.)

This includes the anticipated changes in personnel, capital equipment and any other expenses that will be required, as well as the overall impact their plans will have in revenue growth, expenses and profitability.

 (Don’t let managers forget to consider the key factor is the impact on your primary customers.)

3.      Present the plans to the stakeholders and adjust.

We suggest that both the as-is review and plan for 2018 be presented by the authors (i.e. managers) to the management team members first. The purpose is to share each plan, discuss the impact on the company against its mission, vision and values, ensure congruency, and avoid any duplication. Top leadership should direct managers to refine their plans based upon feedback and prepare to present final plans.

Depending on the organization’s size, scope of operations, complexity and governance, there may be several internal presentations and refinements to prepare the plans for final plan approval.

From a timing standpoint, we recommend planning begin in August and conclude with approvals by the end of September to begin the budgeting process.

4.      Budget for impact, cash flow and profit.

With the as-is review and the 2018 plans approved, you should be in a great position to engage your company in the budgeting process. This process should begin with your bookkeeper providing each manager who has Profit & Loss responsibility with worksheets to prepare a projected actual budget for the current year, through the year’s end, for their scope of operations.

That budget becomes a tool for preparing a 2018 budget for leadership approval, to be incorporated into the overall company budget. With each budget prepared, the leadership will have an opportunity to review each department’s impact on the customers, market and how money spent will generate the anticipated revenue for the new year.

You’ve heard the saying, “Cash is king”? Well, it’s true. Preparing your budget should include looking at your cash flow to include every dollar that goes into and comes out of your checking account.

Finally, look at the bottom-line. Profit is just a result of all the activities of the business. Look at making the final adjustments with feedback from your management team to include timing of initiatives, expenditures and hiring, etc.

5.      Deploy your plan, track progress and adjust

While the planning process provides the roadmap for the destination and success you envision, it’s just a plan. Without taking action even the best plan is worthless.

So, what does taking action entail? The answer: Your leadership. It involves clearly articulating your vision of success to those on whom you rely to help you achieve results you desire. It involves communication, both speaking and actively listening to those stakeholders to track progress and make needed adjustments.

But there is even more.

Your plan calls for certain work do be done. Is the environment for that work conducive to getting it done? Have barriers for success been eliminated? Are the business systems designed to consistently deliver the results you expect? Are the systems transferrable and easily understood by all employees as the company grows?

Leadership is critically important to your company to make any plan work in the business and for the stakeholders.


Through assessing your current situation, involving your managers, preparing a plan for the new year, communicating to inspire the stakeholders to adopt your vision of success, budgeting for financial success, listening and adjusting your plan, and taking actions in the environment you create to serve your customers, you can ensure the highest probability that your business will deliver for you.

Prepare and approve your 2018 plans and final budget before the Thanksgiving holiday and you will cruise through the holidays knowing you and your company are prepared to execute your 2018 plans with less stress and more impact and focus.

About ThistleSea Business Development, LLC

We believe that your business or career should deliver what you need to have a great life.

ThistleSea Business Development was founded in 2005 and is a business and executive coaching, strategy development, training and business services company. We offer business owners and executives custom one-on-one, face-to-face and group business coaching in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia and phone coaching across the United States. Our coaching practice is supported by resources from a network of over 150 affiliated business coaches located across the United States and Canada.

We work together with successful business owners and executives in improving the value of their business, company, department and quality of life.

Our team of ThistleSea Business Development licensed professional business coaches includes:

  • John D. Laslavic, LPBC President – Cranberry Township, PA Office
  • Wendy O. Lydon, LPBC, Sr. Vice President - Cranberry Township, PA Office
  • Jayne Huston, LPBC, Vice President – Harrisburg, PA Office
  • Terri Hammond, ASQ SSYB – Vice President / Business Systems - Cranberry Township, PA Office

Contact us if you would like to learn more about us and our services at thistlesea.com.