Business Planning in Omaha 2021
At the beginning of each year, many people make personal plans and resolutions for the New Year, looking back on the previous year and identifying ways to improve themselves and continue their personal journeys to achieve the life they envision. When it comes to businesses, annual plans are a necessity to build upon a company’s broader vision and core values, while updating specific metrics and budgets to guide their leadership and employees throughout the year.
After talking with business experts in the Omaha area, we recommend that you add professional coaching to your agenda this year, in addition to the professional advice of financial gurus. Of course, annual business plans must be flexible enough to adapt to unexpected changes and the often-volatile marketplace—think COVID in 2020! Preparation for and execution of your annual plan reviews expectations from the previous year, then builds from there to give everyone in the company a sense of where the business is heading and how they intend to get there.
So, what is included in an annual business plan itself? Certainly, it must revolve around the ever-enduring SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals that help businesses focus their efforts, increase chances of success, and ensure that they use their time and resources in the most productive ways possible. From there, a company can develop financial projections and budgets that take into account anticipated expenses and projected income—in addition to expected financing needs for the year. The plan also must outline responsibilities and expectations of individual employees, teams, or departments and the parts of the plan for which they are responsible and held accountable, to the degree that they can control. Rounding out the picture is an annual vision that maps out what owners or managers realistically want the business to look like at the end of the year. Continuing to tell your story through marketing is also crucial to continue throughout these crazy times.
Of course, as 2020 taught us beyond all measure, things don’t always go as planned, so it’s crucial to include contingency options in every plan and be flexible to change. Options might be in the form of reserves for emergencies, be they cash or maintenance of room for unexpected cash-flow needs a line of credit. The final pieces of the planning puzzle bring the projections, goals, and plan together with specific tools and processes that will serve as the avenues to achieving those goals. It might sound like a lot of work, but it’s not nearly as much as you’ll eventually face if you fail to plan your business path and your work/life balance each year. It can help you stay on track and adapt to the unforeseen changes in the marketplace. The good news is that there are a host of experts in the Omaha area who can help ensure that you lay that track strategically and are prepared for what is to come, whether you know what that is or not.
Crucial Financial Expertise
Financial goals are the very crux of business planning, and in the current environment, it’s essential that businesses go the extra mile to set flexible short- and long-term goals as they look at possible scenarios for 2021 and beyond. It’s also crucial that you seek professional financial assistance for the process because there are more forks in the journey than usual.
“We encourage customers and prospects to allow us to navigate through short- and long-term financial goals with a Cornhusker Bank (www.cornhuskerbank.com) Life Road Map planning session,” said Cornhusker Executive Vice President David Shiffermiller. “As a Cornhusker Bank client or prospect, they’ll have a banker and a dedicated team whose aim is to understand short-term financial needs and long-term financial goals. The team will help analyze financial health, while offering customized lending and depository solutions, as well as other expert strategic advice to help meet objectives. Our banker will meet with clients to discuss personal and/or business goals utilizing our Life Road Map, too. This tool will help determine the steps needed to meet goals.”
Challenges to the business-planning process for 2021 will include keeping current about all of the COVID-related legislation, Internal Revenue Service rules, and potential financial-stimulus dollars to continue to support, stabilize, and grow your business. In addition, managing employees and staffing will continue to be a challenge in 2021, as companies continue to work remotely and plan for every possible scenario moving forward.
“Communicating with your banking partners during these times—as a resource for industry information and financial-planning and forecasting—will be critical,” Shiffermiller said.
Business planning this year also will include adapting to the dramatic changes in business processes during the last year to help you emerge as a healthy business in a new normal, if there is such a thing. You’ll need to seek new and alternate opportunities and prepare, prepare, prepare! But don’t get stuck in the rut of pessimism, despite the hefty challenges that abound.
“The trend in the financial industry has been toward leveraging technology and creating convenience for customers striving to meet expectations for delivering products and services,” Shiffermiller said. “The past year has been a great example of how quickly consumer behavior can change. Being prepared to embrace these changes has served us well. Look for growth opportunities, consider obstacles, and plan well and prepare! Consider advice from all trusted advisors, including bankers, attorneys, accountants, insurance advisors, and the like. Be nimble and open to new ideas, and keep a positive perspective on long-term success.”
Given the crucial role that technology and marketing play in any business today, your business plan must incorporate your needs in these categories. True North Technologies (www.go-tnt.com) is a frontrunner in mobile app and website development for businesses, in addition to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), branding, and digital-marketing services in the region. Regardless of the size of your business or organization, the experts at True North can help you customize your company or organization’s industry-specific needs, including everything from a basic strategy to a comprehensive package. In the end, it’s always about giving your business a voice in modern business practices. Maybe best of all, you don’t have to be technologically savvy to understand from True North how they can help you, help yourself.
“We strive to help others with their business planning by making the process simple,” said True North Owner Renee Sobotka. “Even the least-techie business owner can tackle the mobile world with our help. We love helping others find their True North. You need lots of tools to compete with larger corporations and franchises, and we will listen to your unique business needs and produce a strategy to help position you for success. By adding product lines, we are really giving business owners the tools they need to thrive. We know our industry like the back of our hands, and there’s no challenge too big or too small!”
Surviving vs. Thriving
The uncertainties that COVID delivered upset the apple cart time and again in 2020, making 2021 business planning maybe more crucial than ever. In addition to the challenges for business metrics and management, 2020 was challenging for employees, many of whom faced change and uncertainty throughout most of the year. As a result, both business owners and employees may feel overwhelmed, disconnected, disorganized, or constantly stressed, which directly affects productivity, morale and, in short, the very success of a business. Business coaching can help bring you back from surviving to thriving.
“What I can provide for corporations and small businesses alike is next-level coaching that helps the team thrive and take businesses to the next level,” said 365DailyHustle (365dailyhustle.com) Owner Karissa Williams. “Businesses are stressed out to the max, and I help them stop stressing and recover from burnout. The biggest thing I hear from businesses and employees is that there’s not enough time in the day. I can provide them with tools and strategies to make the time you have work best for you. We cover time management and prioritization, as well as networking and building strong relationships that can help grow your business, but you need a strategic plan.”
In 365DailyHustle business-coaching sessions, you and your employees will learn about organization and talk about setting work boundaries, especially important when you have employees working from home. When you’re working from home, the work/life boundary gets blurred, and the mentality of always being ON—like feeling obligated to answer emails at 8 in the evening—typically means that team members are stressing more and sleeping less.
“Burnout is terrible for a business,” Karissa said. “You end up with employees who are tired, disgruntled, and irritable, leading to reduced productivity. That’s where I come in. Corporate coaching supports individuals and teams because happy, healthy employees are more productive and excited to show up to work. Everyone is a winner when your teams are happy and the owner is happy.”
While some business owners might think it counterintuitive to increase marketing budgets when business is down and times are tough, it’s actually one of the most growth-oriented things you can do, Karissa said. That includes a well-rounded marketing plan, but definitely increased digital marketing.
“Don’t be cutting budgets for marketing,” she said. “You have to get really smart about the ROI on ads, and target potential customers. You have to increase your overall marketing, but definitely your digital budget. Social media is insane right now because so many people are online cruising the internet. Getting in there and standing out will help small businesses compete better with companies that have big marketing budgets. You have to keep your company visible. As a small business, I have to do this, too. For example, I’ve never done print but said yes to it in the middle of COVID. You have to be a little bit of everywhere.”
Karissa offers three key pieces of advice to businesses working on their annual planning and strategies in 2021. First, get yourself a coach or mentor to bounce ideas off of and hold you accountable. Second, get yourself some clarity and focus. When times get scary, ask yourself, ‘How can I make a dollar?’ Stay focused and aligned with what you’re good at and make it available online. Finally, think about what can help your business stand out in a crowd. What’s going to make you different moving forward? Why would someone pick your business over another? Become the authority on what you do, share your knowledge, and set yourself apart.
Planning with a Purpose
Before you lay out the goals for your business for this year and beyond, it’s essential that you have a clear basis for what you want accomplish overall. Business owners and managers are crucial to this piece of the puzzle, and if you’re not clear on that basis, or purpose, we encourage you to consider contacting ActionCOACH (www.actioncoach.com) for assistance, because planning without a purpose isn’t really planning at all. You might be charting a course, but to where?
“If you follow the definition of planning as your guide, you will see why the process is so critical to any company’s success,” said. ActionCOACH Certified Business Coach Jim Barger. “In organizations, planning can become a management process, concerned with defining goals for a future direction and determining the missions and resources to achieve those targets. To meet the goals, managers may develop plans, such as a business or marketing plan. Planning always has a purpose and means you have a sense in mind. While tactics and strategies to achieve the goals set forth might change, the PLAN—the very foundation of what you want to accomplish—shouldn’t.”
One thing the pandemic has done, unfortunately in many cases, is illustrate clearly that trying to operate a business without a solid plan can be fatal.
“You would never take a trip without at least knowing where you were going,” Jim said. “Planning for a business is much the same. If you have ideas of where your business should be or where you want your business to be, then planning is necessary. With the pandemic, companies that operate by the seat of their pants found themselves, in short order, naked, and unable to pivot resources to the challenges and changes in the marketplace that were happening so fast,” Jim said.
Characteristics of your annual plan should include everything from intellectual and mental exercise to managerial function, goal focus, a basis of continuous improvement, positive and persuasive action, and future-facing—and it must be forward facing.
“Remember,” Jim said, “tactics and strategies can change. You can deploy resources differently or allocate them in new ways to meet market conditions, but you should never abandon your bigger, better, and stronger plans. Only with a road map, a chart, can you stay the course and achieve the business goals you want. Using a learning platform like ActionCOACH is not only a success, it is a WIN! You are charting a new course build on the foundations of what you have learned.”
The Remote Workplace
According to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc., 88% of businesses across the globe mandated or encouraged all of their employees to work from home as COVID hit and the virus began to spread. Clearly, this forced work-from-home trend requires serious consideration in your business planning, and that includes consideration of creating quality home workspaces for your employees—especially if you plan to maintain work-from-home employees beyond the pandemic. As the owners of Storage Concepts, Inc. (storageconceptsinc.com) guide their business into 2021, they are in high gear serving their individual, home-construction, and multi-family customers—and that includes responding to the growing trend toward home-office needs.
“We’ve seen increased demand for home offices in the Omaha area in 2020 with so many people working from home,” said Owner Ed Abersfeller. “Interestingly, most home offices we’re doing are designated to a spare bedroom, where we then incorporate a Murphy bed to maintain the functionality of a guest bedroom. The question now is: ‘Will this trend continue post-COVID-19?’ and we believe it will.”
Storage Concepts Inc. is the oldest custom-closet company in the state of Nebraska, and they have a wonderful history with their customers across the entire upper Midwest. As a family-owned, non-franchise business, they are free to offer customers any range of products—from the closet to the garage, pantry, home office, or wine cellar—that best meets their wants and needs. If you’re working from home or the kids are remote learning—or both—consider some of the fabulous home-office concepts that Storage Concepts Inc. can accomplish for you. They can truly bring your dreams to life.
Keep in mind, too, that employees working from home—in addition to your business as a whole—need access to dependable internet services to avoid slowing your company’s productivity. Cox Communications (www.cox.com), a leading provider of high-speed broadband internet in Omaha, encourages businesses to keep up with technology trends—including high-speed internet services—to ensure that they have the tools to stay ahead of their competition and save money.
Cox offers powerful one gigabit broadband internet speeds—equal to 1,000 megabits per second. They also have made significant upgrades to their infrastructure in Omaha, as part of the company’s commitment to invest $10 billion in their network over the next five years. Their DOCSIS 3.1 technology builds on the strength of Cox’s fiber-based network and provides the ability to roll out gigabit internet speeds through more neighborhoods and areas in the city at a faster pace. Cox Communications also is an industry leader in managed cloud services. Powered by RapidScale Technology, Cox Business Cloud Solutions can help any size business or organization manage securely, remotely, and seamlessly with their robust managed cloud services. Because customers and business challenges are always growing and evolving, they offer a variety of customized options to tailor services to specific industries, including small businesses, higher education, K-12 education, government, healthcare, hospitality, and more—to drive real results for your business.
Annual business planning is essential to the health of any company or organization. Enter COVID, and it’s more crucial than ever that you have a strong base and mission from which to plan, as well as access to the expertise to help ensure you’re on track for success. We encourage you to reach out to the experts featured here to plan in a timely, meaningful, and successful way!