Not sure where you’re at, but it seems about six weeks ago that it was New Year’s Eve and 2023 was all shiny and fresh. Now we’ve seen off winter, there are mince pies on supermarket shelves – I know – and people are locking in summer holiday plans.

Feels like there are relaxing days ahead. But beyond that lies another year where small businesses and brands need to bring their A game. On my recent six day Heysen Trail trek in South Australia with my accountability partner Kate, we finalised and presented our 2024 business plans to each other.

One thing I know after decades in business for myself and Fortune 100 companies: everyone needs a plan. If you don’t know what you want, you can’t get it. Simple as that. So here’s my top tips when identifying and fleshing out your 2024 plans and priorities:

One: Block out your holidays first

Downtime is incredibly important. For me this is PLAY time and I call my getaways Playcations. I map them out before any other planning takes place. This is the time when I know I’ll not only recharge but will get inspired, creative, tune into problem solving and gain incredible perspective on where I’m heading. Ideally, I take at least one long break of four weeks over summer then another in winter where I chase the sun.

Being away from home, work and normal routines gives clarity. Taking holidays is not only beneficial for personal well-being but also for business success. Regular breaks help reduce burnout and boost productivity, so you come back motivated and efficient. I find stepping away from work gives me the chance to gain fresh insights and make strategic decisions. Stepping away from biz responsibilities recharges mental and physical batteries, which for me enhances my ability in the long run to make sound decisions and drive the business forward.

My advice to coaching clients and audiences is everyone should look to take regular holidays – and yes, I know it’s easier to said than done with tight finances and wondering who’ll look after business, but even a mini break is a great investment.

Two: Make time for reflection

Take some quiet time to honestly reflect on how things are going. What went well in your business this year? What things didn’t go so well and why?

Carving out reflection time is so valuable. It’s all about introspection, which helps you identify strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. This self-awareness can lead to more effective decision-making, better teamwork and personal growth. Reflecting on past experiences and strategies can also uncover insights that will help future planning and kickstart innovation. For me, regular reflection means I’m always learning and adapting, which are essential qualities for staying competitive and resilient in biz.

Three: Get clear on your objectives

When I’m coaching this is the first thing I do with a new client. Our first session is spent getting crystal clear about the top things they want to achieve in their business. We normally set three or four biz objectives and then I always like to challenge them to have one personal goal too. 

Why is getting clear on objectives so fundamental for business success? It means you create a clear roadmap and focus on goals. This clarity enhances efficiency by minimising wasted time and resources on tasks which don’t matter. If I have well-defined objectives, my decision making is better and I can evaluate choices against the established criteria (and knowing what I want to achieve boosts motivation.) Ultimately, clarity empowers a business to chase grown, measure progress and adapt strategies as needed to drive lasting success.

Four: Consider theming your months

This is something I’ve done this year with great success. I don’t theme every month but every second or third month has a strong theme to it. Try it: having a structured and consistent approach to goal-setting and task prioritisation increases productivity. And you know what, it’s fun!

February 2023 focused on Legal Stuff – I did my will, reviewed all my insurances (public liability, professional indemnity, car and house and contents).  June was a month of Joy: it was one of my longer holidays and I went to Europe and had the most glorious time exploring and discovering new places. This always sparks so much growth for me. I discovered lots of great things about myself too.

September and October are a double themed month, and are all about Reorganisation. I’m not only reorganising the pantry, I’m completely reorganising all the tech and software in my business. I’ve got big plans for 2024 and I need to upgrade to support those plans and to simplify how I work to ensure I’m running at maximum efficiency. 

Five: Assemble your support team

Work out who’s guiding and holding you accountable to achieve your objectives. If it’s just you, consider whether investing in a fresh pair of eyes and ears would help you get clarity, ideas and a faster path to success. I find whenever I’m looking to make step changes in my business, I increase my professional development and work intensely with a coach – yes, even though I’ve been a coach myself for almost a decade!

I see incredible value in having someone to deep dive with into challenges I’m experiencing, to harness new opportunities, provide guidance and set me homework to action. I get so much value out of being coached and on the flipside I love the impact I have on my own clients business and life. The impact is something I never get tired of getting and giving.