Is your business poised to take advantage of the growth from 2016? One measure of a business’s strength lies in how quickly it can adjust to changes. There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to look back on the past year and evaluate your business plan. Here are a few questions to keep you on track and focused as you learn and grow from 2016.

1. What were your successes and strengths over the past year?

Identify specifically what you can to do develop and enhance those strengths.

2. What didn’t work? What was challenging?

Evaluate what didn’t work like you expected and learn from it. How did you positively address challenges? Can you take even more specific steps to do better this year?

3. What were your missed opportunities?

You may have overlooked an opportunity to take good pictures, send out a press release, attend a conference, advertise in a new way or make new business connections. Vow to act differently when the opportunity next presents itself.

4. How have your competitors changed?

Your own marketing strategy should encompass offense and defense, so you can react flexibly to whatever your competition is doing — not to copy them but to keep an equal standing or better. If new competitors have entered the market, evaluate what makes them different and adjust your own strategies accordingly.

5. When was the last time you updated your website?

If you can’t remember, it’s time to do it now. Add a new project to your portfolio. Change the description of your services to keep it updated and fresh.

6. What are your biggest opportunities this year?

Develop case studies or cultivate relationships that will help you take advantage of the growth you are seeing in your area. Has technology changed? Have any of your competitors closed? There could be a new niche for you to take over.

7. What trends are you seeing in what your clients are asking for?

Put what the market wants front and center in your marketing materials and in the supplies you sell, if applicable.

8. What industry changes will threaten your segment of the industry and how can you address them?

For instance, are the costs of raw materials expected to change? Will you be affected if our foreign trade policies change?

9. Do you have the right people in your organization?

Hire a marketer to take that work off your plate. Invest in trainings to make sure you have well-skilled employees. What skill sets is your organization missing? Can you provide that or do you need to outsource or hire new people?

10. What is your annual gross and net income goal?

Break that down into a monthly figure and take steps to determine how you will get there.

11. What part of your business is under-performing?

Evaluate what is not working to help you meet your targets. Do these sectors of your business need to be eliminated or do they need a push to help them move forward?

It’s time to plan for 2017 and put together a marketing plan and budget to help you establish your business goals for 2017. Remember when we suggested you create a marketing calendar? Hopefully you’ve done that!

That calendar will lay the groundwork for your marketing plan for 2017. Also important is an overall business plan establishing your goals and how you will meet them.

Plan Your Budget

Experts state that 5 to 7 percent of your revenue should be spent on marketing. It is important to figure out ahead of time where that money will go and where it will come from. Do you underwrite a radio program? Do you focus your efforts on boosting posts on Facebook? How much money does that represent?

Do you need to make investments in infrastructure? Perhaps you need a new computer or a new phone. Try to be as specific as possible, including your monthly expenses for things like printer ink. If you’re making changes to your budget, list what is decreasing and what is increasing. Make sure that your team is aware of the changes and what your new focus is.

Create Your Business Plan

Begin by asking yourself where you want to be at the end of the year. Do you have a sales goal? Work backward and figure out your monthly goal to get there, followed by your weekly and even daily goal to get there. If you know you need to make X number of sales calls to get a new customer, plan to make enough calls each day to meet that goal. The key to this is identifying what you need to do to accomplish your goals and putting the structure in place to help you meet them. With a plan you will wake up each day knowing what you need to take care of that day to meet your near and far goals.

For the non-specific things like, for instance, improving customer service, figure out how you will achieve that. Does that mean holding trainings for your staff or hiring a consultant? Perhaps you will work with your staff to improve email etiquette. It’s fine to have abstract ideas like “meet sales goals” or “get more customers,” but follow those up with a concrete plan.