By Patrick Thean, CEO of Rhythm Systems

As a small business owner, you might not always have the time to sit down and hash out a plan of attack – but it’s important that you do. By getting in the right frame of mind and nailing down not only what you hope to accomplish, but also exactly how you plan to accomplish it, business goals are much easier to attain.

While large companies and corporations are used to the rigmarole of annual and quarterly planning, these sessions are not exclusive to the big players. Proper planning can help small businesses set a course for success, while detailed prioritization can help you and your team to stay on track.

Begin With The End in Mind

The best way to achieve success is by visualizing exactly what it means to you and your business. Do you want to make enough money to give all of your employees a raise? Are you looking to put an addition on your storefront or open another location? Or maybe it’s something as simple as a sales quota you’d like to fill. Start planning for the future by envisioning exactly what you want it to look like, and start laying the framework from there.

Effective vs. Efficient Planning

Oftentimes, planning sessions can be disjointed or unproductive when too much focus is put on the agenda. Instead of rushing to cover everything you’ve set out to discuss, shift your focus to the effectiveness of the planning. It is generally more useful to have fewer discussions, with the entire team fully understanding the outcome of each, than to flood team members with too much information. Sticking to an agenda is important, but making time to discuss, debate and agree is even more crucial to the planning process.

All Aboard

Owning a business can be complicated – that’s why you hire people. Managers can help make the life of a business owner a little easier, but they need to be looped in on all major plans to do so effectively. Once a plan is agreed upon and finalized, start cascading your plans down to your management teams and eventually to all employees, making sure everyone is aligned and committed to moving forward with the proposed course of action. Without taking this crucial step, your plan is just that – a plan. Trickling the strategy down to everyone within the business is what makes a goal come to fruition.

For optimized success, go the extra mile and make it clear to your team not only what should be done to reach business goals, but why you’re all doing it as well. Employees are far more motivated when they can put a reason behind their daily activities and maintain a true understanding of what they’re working together to achieve. Be sure to remain completely transparent with your plans for the future and how everyone personally contributes to that growth.

First Things First

So you have your business plan nailed down and you’re ready to take action – here comes the tough part. Successful prioritizing can mean the difference between a company that never moves forward and one that meets and exceeds ambitions and goals.

Start by developing individual priorities that move your plan forward. You as a business owner, your management and all of your employees should come to work each and every day with a list of personal priorities that continuously propel the overall operation towards success. Sometimes looking at the big picture can make things blurry which is why setting smaller scale, individual, sometimes even daily priorities can often bring you closer to achieving success than trying to keep track of several overarching concerns.

Running a business is hard, and putting together an annual or quarterly plan may seem time consuming, even intimidating. But not only is a firm business plan essential for maintaining stability, it’s a critical for businesses looking to achieve continued growth and true success year after year.

Patrick Thean is the CEO and co-founder of Rhythm Systems, a cloud-based strategy execution software platform that facilitates airtight execution and measurability for mid-market CEOs. A serial entrepreneur, bestselling author and frequent speaker, Patrick is best known for helping companies accelerate their growth by focusing on great execution. Follow him at @pthean.