Planning For Next Year? Get These Things Right First
It’s not too early to start on next year’s success. Pre-planning in these last few weeks of the year can help ensure you’re ready to hit the new year running. Here’s how to have your most successful year ever.
It’s the final quarter of the year and a busy one for some event planners. Whether you’re struggling to breathe under your workload or you are enjoying some well-deserved slow time, know that your actions in the last few weeks of the year can set you up for your best beginning to a new year ever.
Starting off strong allows you to build momentum in your business and enjoy a much more successful year than one that begins with a soft fizzle. But you’ve got to set it up now to reap the benefits in the future. Here’s how you can begin on the path of success today:
Begin as soon as possible. The problem with the end of the year is that you lose a lot of stakeholders to vacation and holiday-itis. This is generally a time for coasting before the holidays, so begin getting a plan in place before the “out of office” notices appear.
Review the Current Year
What goals did you have for this year? Did you meet them? Why or why not? Perform a SWOT analysis to address shortcomings and prepare for the next year.
Draw a Line in the Sand
Make sure you know exactly where you are going into the new year. Draw the proverbial line in the sand of not only where you are financially but what you’re currently doing in your marketing. Note details and follower counts on social media as well as all the current tactics you’re using. While you may think you’ll be able to easily categorize results from one year and another, if you don’t separate them out, you’ll soon forget which programs originated in which year.
Think About Projections
Create projections for next year based on continuing to do things as you’re currently doing them. Where will you be? If next year continues along current trends, will you have more attendees at your event? Are you on an upward climb or a downward slide? Do you like what that picture looks like? If you do, how will your current tactics influence next year? If you don’t like what next year’s projections look like, how do you want them to differ? By what degree? What will it take to affect that change?
Now that you know where you’re headed if nothing changes and you’ve established what it would take to affect change, create the goals that will help you get there. Remember goals should always be SMART, which stands for:
- Specific: clearly defined.
- Measurable: you need to be able to tell if you’ve achieved them. “To have a good year” is not measurable.
- Achievable: you can accomplish them. Becoming the next Colin Cowie by February is probably not achievable.
- Results-focused: goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
- Timely: every goal needs a “finish” line where it will be judged as successful by that point or not.
Create Your Budget
Once you know what you want to do, figure out how much it’s going to cost you to do so. Create your budget based on your new undertakings. If those numbers don’t work out, examine possible cuts and cost savings that can help you get to the magic numbers. If cutting costs doesn’t work, examine your pricing structure as suggested below.
Adjust Your Pricing
Now that you’re deciding on future goals and elements that are crucial to your success, it’s time to re-examine pricing. Are your services still priced correctly? Do you need to adjust your pricing to be more in line with industry standards? Do you want to offer a special service you’re not currently offering? How will you price that item?
While you’re thinking about pricing and making necessary adjustments, as well as the possibility of offering new services, you should also look to partners that could help you grow your event business in a new area. For instance, do many of your clients have technology needs that you currently can’t fulfill directly? Could you make the necessary purchases to offer these services or could you partner with a technology firm that could either give your clients a discount (adding value to selecting you as an event planner) or could you be part of an affiliate program that would earn a commission on referrals?
Re-examine Affiliate, Affinity, and Loyalty Programs
If you are part of any affinity or loyalty programs that reward you for referrals or usage, reexamine how many business referrals you sent along over the past year. For smaller organizations without large brands dictating terms, you may be able to negotiate better rates or percentages if you can show you’ve referred a lot of business their way.
As part of your SMART goals in the earlier step, you created timely goals that are measurable. But part of that measurement should include the tasks that lead you to your goal. For instance, if your goal is to increase revenue by $50,000, you would break that into how many new clients you will need to achieve it. Once you know how many you need, you would calculate how many new clients that breaks down to per month. These mini benchmarks can tell you whether you’re on track to reach your goal way before the fourth quarter, allowing you to make adjustments along the way.
After all, next year’s success shouldn’t be a mystery until the final reveal when there’s nothing that can be done. Add in benchmarks and you’ll know if you’re not on track to meet your goal early enough to salvage it.
If you want to have your best year yet in your event planning business you need to get started now. It’s not enough to merely set goals. Use the end of year as a time to re-examine your entire business model and pricing structure. That way you can begin fresh in the new year knowing you are on the path to even greater success.
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