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 Lincoln 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 Lincoln 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.
Change of Place
Another key thing to consider when you’re preparing your annual business plan is your location. If you’re near or overcapacity, if more employees are working from home long-term and you now have too much space, or if you need more space to spread your employees out further, you’ll want to talk to a commercial real-estate agency about making sure your building will meet your needs for the coming year. That’s where Guiderock Commercial Realty LLC can help. They help businesses refine and implement their commercial real-estate strategies so that the locations they work in are aligned with both their near-term needs and long-term goals.
“Over the past several months, we have seen businesses give more thought to contingency planning and how that impacts their space needs and commitments, which we expect to continue for the foreseeable future,” said Guiderock Commercial Realty Broker and Property Manager Cathy Kottwitz. “As we help clients select spaces, we also discuss future expectations, as well as unforeseeable events. There are a lot of tools available for different situations, and we strive to make sure our clients have the right ones in their toolboxes.”
Guiderock Commercial Realty is also hearing a lot of speculations about what might or might not happen with the local commercial real-estate market as repercussions of COVID-19. While there will always be changes to come, Guiderock Commercial Realty will continue to provide clients with the most complete picture possible about the current and future market environment, so business owners can make informed decisions about the location and characteristics of their place of business. According to research from the first half of 2020 (latest available), retail businesses in Lincoln were the hardest hit in the first months of COVID, with vacancy rates at 7.1% compared to 6.6% at the end of 2019. The 7.1% rate is the highest retail vacancy rate Lincoln has seen since the end of 2011, when it was 7.2%. In a volatile marketplace like we are experiencing now, flexibility is a crucial planning tool.
“Our approach has always been that businesses should maximize their flexibility with their real-estate decisions,” Cathy said. “With the uncertain nature of 2021, flexibility is even more important for a business that wants to excel, so we advise businesses to take two key steps to improve their flexibility. First, start planning real-estate decisions early. Second, seek advice from industry professionals, such as attorneys, bankers, and commercial real-estate agents. These two pieces of advice can help a business maximize their flexibility in real-estate decisions, and ultimately help them achieve their goals for 2021 and beyond.”
Another terrific option for planning your commercial space is HIP Realty (Holroyd Investment Properties), which is a full-service commercial and apartment real-estate sales, management, and leasing firm. They offer personalized real-estate services, while employing the highest ethical standards. HIP Realty prides itself on providing the type of five-star services that today’s sophisticated commercial markets require. Their OffiCenters provide a variety of office sizes and styles, with the option of furnishing the office for you, if you desire. Tenants of HIP OffiCenters enjoy the assistance of a full-time receptionist, conference room, and modern office equipment, serving up a great way to convey a professional image to your clients without the financial commitment of staffing an office yourself.
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 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!”
Planning for Retirement
Obviously crucial to any annual business plan is a financial management plan. Bethany Arnold with Edward Jones (edwardjones.com) can help. She can help businesses find the best options for retirement plans, deciphering the confusion of 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, 457’s, simple IRAs, and employee stock-ownership plans. Whether you’re self-employed or own a small business, Bethany can help you find the retirement plans that will best fit your needs and those that will work best to help your employees save for retirement.
“As a business owner, you know that your company’s success takes preparation and effort,” Bethany said. “Your retirement years are no different. The appropriate business retirement plan can incorporate the flexibility you need while helping you to save for your retirement—as well as attract and retain quality employees.”
Bethany encouraged us to look at it this way: In addition to your role as a business owner, you are also an investor.
“It just makes good sense to diversify your assets and retirement income so you don’t put your entire retirement nest egg in your business. Saving outside of the business means you control your own retirement, rather than depending on the sale of the business to fund your retirement needs. There is no crystal ball that can tell you what your business might be worth when you are ready to retire. In one scenario, it could be worth only the equipment, building, and inventory, which may not be enough to support your lifestyle in retirement. In fact, often when a business is sold, the owner must finance part of the sale.”
Bethany can also help you manage your business expenses, while earning valuable rewards by using the Edward Jones Business Plus Mastercard for your business expenses and accumulating loyalty points with low interest rates and 0% introductory fees. These cards come with tremendous benefits for any business owner, and Bethany can help you enjoy all of the savings possible.
Clean and Safe
We can only hope that everyone will be able to return to their offices, shops, and other businesses in 2021. Certainly, you have to plan for that. With all of the fears and realities that came with COVID, don’t forget to add office cleaning and sanitizing to your planning to-do list. ServiceMaster Professional Building Maintenance (servicemasterclean.com) (PBM) of Lincoln can help you get your business clean, disinfected, and safe, so you can welcome back your employees with confidence. They employ professional experts who are trained, screened, and tested to ensure top-quality service, and their professional cleaning services will not only leave your business looking spotless but also will enhance its overall appearance and safety for employees, customers, and clients to enjoy.
Your confidence in ServiceMaster grows when you realize that they are also certified to clean any healthcare facility. They understand the attention and requirements that Lincoln healthcare facilities need to maintain a safe and healthy environment in a medical setting. With Servicemaster Clean’s proprietary Capture and Removal Cleaning® system, they combine advanced equipment and microfiber technologies to significantly reduce airborne dust, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and bacteria. The result is a sanitized and healthy setting for patients, guests, and staff members. ServiceMaster will provide you the clean you expect with the service you deserve, leaving you with peace of mind.
Branding, Branding, Branding!
Clearly, COVID has, to say the least, changed the business landscape for local business owners. Whether your business has thrived, faltered, or changed gears, one constant that remains is the crucial nature of branding your business. Branding helps your business stand out, to increase your visibility among clients and potential clients alike. Especially in a world so heavily monitored and driven by social media, meaningful branding strategies will not go unnoticed. They will help you create and develop deeper relationships with customers at a time they are in need of information. One crucial part of any branding strategy is getting your name out there—and Flicker Promotions (flickerpromotions.com) can help you make that happen.
They’ll customize virtually anything you want—from tote bags to branded shirts, satin pens, Clic Stics and other pens, stainless steel champagne flutes, Carhartt items, tumblers, blankets, socks, wall calendars, pop sockets for cell phones, YETI products, face masks, hand sanitizers, lip balms, counter mats, PPE products, golf products, mouse pads, phone accessories, shades, flashlights, and so much more. If you can imagine it, Flicker can personalize it for you!
“We can help anyone customize virtually anything, whether that be a French press for the office, a custom watch, or even personalized golf gloves,” said Flicker Promotions Owner Amy Doele. “We can help you find ways to make personal connections with your clients and staff. Classic for 2020 are Flicker’s customizable UV cellphone sanitizers, which can disinfect your cellphone, Air Pods, keys, or even your credit cards, using UV light. These also double as wireless phone chargers. Brand them with your company logo as a gift to your employees and clients. We also offer customizable masks that use three-layer construction but are soft and breathable for businesses that have mask restrictions in place or just to share with clients given the state of networking and gathering requirements during the pandemic. You can hand them out to employees and clients, who boost your branding efforts every time they wear them in public!”
Headquartered in Lincoln, Flicker Productions is a premier concierge promotional-product provider. They relieve the sense of stress from promotional marketing, applying their expertise to follow your lead and curate a collection of promotional items specific to your business and your clients. Flicker works with businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations to create useful promotional items that people will be grateful to receive—at the same time marketing your business. Plus, you’ll love working with them.
“We love to create unique and custom items for our clients,” Amy said. “Finding the perfect items are what we do best. We can help you find ways to make personal connections with your clients and staff. Our mission is to provide the highest standard of personal service—a promise that other companies voice but few actually live up to. At Flicker Promotions, we expect and intend to have personal contact with our clients in determining the best products on which to print their logos or marks. With our company, you will work with someone who is fully engaged, no matter the size of the project you’re seeking.”
Another way to boost your brand is to update your company signage, both on and in your building, in front of it, on your tradeshow booth and materials, or as lettering or wrapping on your company vehicles. Sign Pro of Lincoln, Inc. / Premier Graphics LLC (signprolincoln.com) has been providing customers with the best signs and graphics for more than 25 years. Many individual and commercial clients throughout southeastern Nebraska have come to depend on the tasteful, eye-catching signs they deliver.
Sign Pro can brand wherever you want to quickly draw attention to your brand. They can create banners to display a product in your new store, as an outdoor sign to let the community know you are open and ready for business, or to advertise a special event. Banners are both cost-effective and generate excitement and high visibility, especially if you incorporate photos, full-color designs, and computer graphics. Sign Pro signage solutions fit any project or budget, including interior and reception signs, exterior and storefront signage, free-standing outdoor signs, and yard signs. For your company vehicles, Sign Pro offers vinyl lettering, partial wraps, and full wraps to suit your needs.
Remaining relevant in a competitive marketplace can be a real struggle, regardless of what your business sells. That’s why you need a complete marketing plan that creates awareness and distinctiveness. If you’re looking for a clear message, a solid strategy, and more relevance in the marketplace, give Maly Marketing a call. They are a full-service marketing agency based in Lincoln and driven to help their clients succeed and do work that makes them proud.
Don’t think you can’t afford a meaningful marketing plan? Think again. With Maly Marketing (malymarketing.com), a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t take a big swing. In an economy that is increasingly reliant on fragmented attention, sometimes you need to try something a little “out there” to get noticed. Doing something a little different can amount to taking a new creative approach or finding a different media mix. It’s important to take a step back and look at the whole picture, and the folks at Maly Marketing know just how to guide you through the process because creative problem solving is their specialty. Most of their clients are dealing with massive budgets, and they always find solutions that are straightforward and inexpensive to implement without rebuilding the wheel.
Of course, if you want to increase your visibility in 2021, we also recommend contacting Strictly Business (strictly-business.com). We are a content-marketing magazine that partners with business owners to position them as experts in their fields, combining compelling paid advertising with free press releases, feature inclusions, and—new to our offerings—social-media coverage about your business every month! Don’t worry if you don’t have a marketing professional on your staff because Strictly Business has free design services for your ads and free research and writing for your press releases and stories.
In recent years, content marketing has evolved from being just blog post and editorial strategies. It has become a holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing strategies including social media, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and paid media to engage businesses with their customers and potential customer. At Strictly Business, our goal is to help your visibility skyrocket and not only draw new customers or clients to your business, but also help them understand why they can trust you and depend on you to do the best work possible for them. Call Paige at (402) 466-3330 today and find out how we can help you grow your brand in 2021!
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!