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We’ll come to you.

Like it or not, it’s past time for all of us in Corporate America to move forward and map out a game plan for 2010. I suspect that this will be a welcome, albeit difficult, task for many, given the economic challenges that occurred over the last 12 months. However, there are still some companies out there that believe the state of the economy will determine their success, and while that premise might hold true in certain circumstances, organizations will have a greater chance of failing when they do not prepare for what lies ahead.

Taking a back seat is simply not an option. Recession or not, businesses can most certainly take steps to influence their destiny. At my company, Red Door Interactive, we’ve learned over the course of our existence that preparation is the key to success. The earlier you map out a plan for the upcoming year, the more organized and ready you’ll be when the ride begins. So for those of you who have yet to start, consider these strategies to help give you a strong start in the New Year:

  • Look ahead by assessing the past – This is a great means to determine what worked in 2009 and what needs to be improved. Although many companies struggled at no direct fault of themselves, there were undoubtedly financial, human resource, operational and marketing initiatives conducted over the past year that could be improved if they are to meet expectations for next year.
  • Develop a specific list of target customers to pursue – This is an important exercise of outlining quantifiable revenue goals for the coming year. For instance, we’ve created a list of target companies to go after, and devised a plan to successfully do so.  
  • Map out a schedule of events – If your company hosts webinars, customer appreciation events, speaking engagements or other such initiatives throughout the year, determine early on what topics you’ll cover in 2010. Poll employees on issues that are relevant to them and would be interesting for others. For example, at my company, we have an intranet where employees frequently post blogs, and have discovered that some of the best ideas come directly from our staff. Find out what your team members are passionate about because chances are pretty good that other folks with an interest in your field will enjoy the topic as well.
  • Determine what resources are needed – It’s a good idea to understand where you believe resources will be most utilized and provide support accordingly. If one area of your business is expected to grow, for instance, start determining how you will scale for that expansion if it occurs. If your company is looking to hire additional employees, focus on creating strategies to recruit talented folks.  For example, my company is expecting to grow in numerous ways in 2010 and our goal is to recruit the best talent out there. To prepare for this growth and keeping with its popularity, we’ve created a @reddoorjobs Twitter account to assist us in our search. Whether your business plan is working well, these need to be revisited annually in order to prepare for any unforeseen events that may arise in the coming months.

Above all else, companies and their management team must remain open and flexible to new ideas.  Just because you create a plan of attack now doesn’t mean that it can’t be altered throughout the year.  In fact, chances are pretty good that it will be revised on more than one occasion based on new developments. But here’s the main point – simply letting external factors determine your future and not preparing for the coming months will be a sure fire way to guarantee that your company will not live up to its potential in 2010. Going into the year with a game plan will create a sense of excitement that you’re ready to start off with a bang.