For The Anxious CEO: Business Planning Tips for Any New Year

Just before a new financial year, many CEO or business owners may start becoming restless and apprehensive. You want to make effective business decisions for the New Year. You are not alone.

This is irrespective of whether your organization has posted good financials in the outgoing year or not. The bulk stops at your table for the next cycle of things. You should desire a more successful outcome of the expectant year.

I am going to take you through some basic steps you can take; to remove the cobweb of anxiety from your mind.
Of course, here, I am not talking about the “new year resolutions” yearly fad. Serious minded and realistic executives don’t have anything to do with that.
Spelling out new business goals must be close to being realizable and practical; that is what you want to achieve. And to a large extent acceptable to all stakeholders.

As a business leader or the Chief Executive Officer, you know that you must put in place an effective strategy for the coming – financial year. (January of a new year is the most popular starting month but not necessarily so for some companies.)

Yours could be a multinational or a localized business. Or you could be the owner and manager of a solo effort of an enterprise – established to serve within your community. Decision making still boils down to clear insight of leadership into the future.

One of the many things that will be coming to your mind is how to do better than in the previous year. All shareholders, your team, workforce and the board look up to you for leadership, direction and execution.

And if yours is a big company, after all the dreary crisscrossing meetings, the buck still stops at your table. And you must come up with a fresh and an effective decision plan – at the twilight period of the outgoing year.

And plans must be executed, once the new financial year starts to unfold.

So what are you thinking of now?
What are you going to do differently and better than the past?
How are you to make a further positive impact on your organizations?

These following thoughts may cross your mind:

  • You might be contemplating looking around for some “business decisions models”. The ones you can copy. Of course that won’t give you a unique solution.
  • You might also be looking around to see how other executives in your situation have done well for their corporation. But you will not be privy of the little details, as those are the secrets buried in such organizations.
  • And sadly, if you are quite egocentric you might be looking around for information for your own selfish sake but not for the improved fortunes of your organization. Here you could be daydreaming of the beaming smiles and applause you could get from your board and other stakeholders. That might become an illusion if your organization miss the mark of success ultimately.
    At this crucial time: think about your organization first! That would be the way to go.

Here I simply want you to open your mind to the power you have…residing inside of you.

You know your organization better and therefore you need to excuse your self-doubt if any. Suggestions from “guru” may not take you far. There is much more to your organization – those little nuances that you and no other person can know unless they are aware of these details.

Now, the question is: what is your mind telling you?

Agreed we must learn from others but if you suffuse yourself with so much available information out there, you will most likely be overwhelmed. In effect your strategic plans might be seriously flawed within the short time frame you have.

You simply need to be confident that you have most of the resources you need. The intellectual contribution from your smart senior executives including some junior ones can help.

Your vast experience would give you the confidence to make better business decisions yet again.

Accept that you can make things work and meet the expectations of the various stakeholders – within the organization and outside of it. And of course you must not lose focus on your shifting consumers’ needs, as the years rolled by.
You will know.
Because, being a dynamic soul and a hands-on Chief Executive; you have over the years learned the ropes. You have keenly observed both consciously – and otherwise – as you went through the ranks.
You have studied the past and gained relevant knowledge of your industry. All these varied experiences in play have coached your subconscious.

Your past failures, mistakes, ingenuity and successes are available to be tapped into. Only if you ask your inner-self.

I will admit; it is a painstaking exercise that needs a timeout; to sieve out and put things together properly. That’s what successful leaders are doing. That is the secret. There is no Superhuman CEO.

And remember your gut feeling which can override notions and researched outcomes.
Having cleared out your inner doubts, you can now proceed as follows.

Be ready to put pen to paper.

  • Before you do this; if your schedule could allow it as you prepare for another year, set aside a week or less to think through all issues in front of you.
    Paint a total picture of varied influencing factors that must be addressed and utilized so that your organization and you can make a headway.At this phase, you may jot down some points. Or leave the thoughts playing out in your mind for a while. Nothing elaborate at this time. But they must eventually be written down when you are ready to come up with your own “business decision making” template.
  • You may give a shout-out to a few but trusty subordinates or whoever you safely think will give you an input to make a few adjustments. But remember the buck stops with you as the Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director. The final decision is your responsibility.
  • When the time is right and you are ready for the first draft, these thoughts will come back in torrents. Your mind is already turgid and so you write them down. Thereafter, you will smoothen all the rough edges. It will never be perfect. But let your plan be an informed decision and timely.
  • If this exercise is applicable to you, you will call up a meeting with your team or board to explain your direction for the New Year. If you don’t have anybody to report to, you’ll take the plunge yourself.
    I can assure you, you will have ample confidence and sense of purpose displayed when you marshal your plans to your team.
  • Be mindful of the fact that there will be some advice from some board members. They could disagree on some issues but do take such into consideration. You may learn from them. And some inputs may not be useful since a few would speak, based on the spur of the moment.You will have to convince them otherwise as you had ample time to think through these issues prior to the meeting.

    I advise you to envisage many of such objections or additions when preparing your template.
    Give room for the rabble-rousers. You may not ignore them all the time. Their contributions may be providential. Note their suggestions; but verify their submissions.

  • Be on your guard not to disregard everything in your earlier well thought-out plan while hearing out submissions from your team or board. Realize all business decisions are risks including these external suggestions.So after the meeting, the buck stops at your table. Follow your notions and instinct and execute your adjusted decision making template. Then you are good to go for the New Year or the new financial period of your company, as the case may be.
  • Muster a heavy dose of courage and fine-tune your plans when necessary during the implementation phase. There is nothing to be ashamed about in adjusting your template in due course of the year. Circumstances do crop up beyond any man’s wildest imagination.However this is not to make you become too rigid or egocentric.

    A smart Chief Executive should ascribe a feeling to himself or herself that he or she does not know it all. But be equally firm about your vision while still being a team player.
    There will be situations where you can never see the back of your head. Someone will need to help you out, at these times.

  • Above all, let your decision making have a room for Plan B.

A contingency of sorts to minimize risks.
This aspect might not be too detailed. The truth is; it is mentally exhaustive enough to come up with an original well thought-out plan, yet to be bothered about a second option.

But try to give a thought to what might not work. And put up contingency plans to ameliorate this IF they do occur. That would readily eliminate the apprehension and procrastination in your mind to act on your first template of decisions for the New Year.


Eliminate your fears and doubts. Take solace in that; no decision making is ever perfect. Modifications will still be made during months of execution.

Determine your expectations. Give cognizance to the usual, namely: resources, challenges and opportunities within and outside your organization. You will be looking out for all the attributes of the local, national and global factors as they affect your manpower, your company and your industry.

Highlight your objectives and goals. Determine the time frame you must finish with your robust plan. After all the turkeys, chickens and sumptuous end-of-the-year dishes, you must find a place to carry out this meditative planning.

Put flesh to your highlights within a day or two after writing them out. Determine the date when you must finish it. Then you can come back and write and adjust the final thoughts you have penciled down.

All the past resources you have read; books, experts and successful business leaders, the multiple opinions at board and staff meetings would have worked on your thoughts to complete your action plan.

Having done that. You now have your own unique but effective business decision template for the New Year.
Mistakes would be made: successes would also be recorded.

Go for it…

Happy Deliberation.

Happy New Financial Year!


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