Annual Planning in Your Family Business: Practical Tips for Owners and Leaders

We see a lot of family business leaders who struggle with annual planning – it seems overwhelming, or they think they have to do it all themselves, or they just don’t know where to start.

But if you ask for the help you need, especially from your team, and you recognize your own limiting beliefs, you can tackle the annual planning cycle with confidence.

Let’s talk about how.

Limiting Beliefs Around Annual Planning

We actually see several limiting beliefs when it comes to planning and goal-setting, but a few rise to the top. Here they are:

  • Annual Planning is Unnecessary (because everybody already knows what we’re working toward)
  • You Don’t Have Time
  • You Have to Do It All Yourself

Let’s take a deeper dive into how these beliefs can hold you back.

Limiting Belief # 1 – Annual Planning is Unnecessary (because everybody already knows what we’re working toward)

This is an easy trap to fall into.

Because you’re at the top of the organization, steeped in strategy, you assume everyone else is, too. But that’s usually not the case.

People have varying degrees of understanding about what your business goals are and how important they are. They usually aren’t clear on how to prioritize those goals when it comes to their own work.

So simply getting aligned on that can be a good first step in the planning process.

Limiting Belief #2 – You Don’t Have Time

We get it – you’re busy. Running a family business takes a lot of time and effort, and sometimes the thought of stepping away from daily demands to focus on long-term strategy just feels like too much.

But I assure you – If you really want to see progress in your business, it’s essential to think about long-term goals and communicate them throughout your organization.

Hint: see my first point about everyone being in alignment on your goals. 🙂

Taking the time to think strategically with your team also allows you to set milestones that define success throughout the year – so everyone on your team knows whether you’re on-target or need some course-correcting.

Limiting Belief #3 – You Have to Do It All Yourself

One of the biggest limiting beliefs we see is the idea that, as the business owner, or as a leader, you have to do everything alone. The pressure is all on you to come up with the business strategy, goals, and direction. It’s your responsibility to lead ALL  of the things.

And this just simply isn’t the case – so you can let yourself off the hook for this one.

Your team is there because they want to make meaningful contributions to your business success – so let them.

Draw them in, share your vision and make good use of their ideas, their ambition, and their desire to make a difference.

You’ll be helping yourself, your business, AND your team.

Practical Tips for Wrangling the Annual Planning Process

So how do you get rid of these limiting beliefs and move forward with good habits for the new year? Our experience has shown that the following tips can serve you well:

Get clear on your strategy.

What are you going to be doing next year in your business? What are your real goals for the business in terms of revenue? Product development? Service development? What direction is the business going?

Set appropriate milestones.

What are your goals around achieving your strategic imperatives?


Break down each goal and milestone, assign tasks and delegate to people in your organization. Make sure they’re aligned and clear on what their steps are and how those steps help your business reach its goals.

Delegating is always important – it allows people in your organization to develop new skills, take on new responsibilities, and feel essential to your business’s success.

These are all critical for building your culture and making sure your team feels valued and that what they’re doing matters.

Keep it simple – and manageable.

Try not to overwhelm yourself or your team with too many goals.

We recommend four to six large goals for the year. You don’t want to make incremental steps on 20 goals, right? Set a manageable number so that you can see meaningful progress.

Measure, measure, measure.

We can’t say it enough. How are you measuring progress against your goals? And how could you possibly know if you’re getting better at something if you’re not measuring it?

Gauge your progress on a regular basis, and then communicate that progress to your team.  This kind of update keeps people motivated, and it lets them know that what they’re doing makes a real difference.

Prioritize value.

“We’ve always done it this way,” is a phrase that’s all too easy to adopt as part of your culture.

But if you’re consistently asking about the value an approach brings to your business – or to your customers – you’re much better positioned to identify what works. And to divest from services, approaches, or strategies that don’t deliver value.

Ultimately, annual planning is a strong habit that makes a real difference in meeting your business goals.

If you’d like some outside perspective as you get started, any of our experienced family business advisors would love to help.

Schedule a consultation call today to get started: Book a Call.

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