Whether your business is seasonally-driven or you are evaluating a new quarter of operation, developing and utilizing an expectation checklist is key to a successful venture. This type of checklist spells out what you plan to achieve throughout the year, how the plan will unfold, who is responsible for each part of the plan and how, eventually, you will evaluate its success. The checklist evolves through four sectors: MECE – Mission, Expectation, Crisis and Evaluation.

At the forefront of the checklist is naming the mission of your operation, or what outcome you have chosen for the season or the year. It might be a specific monetary goal, a level of sales achievement, the number of customers you expect to serve or your anticipated profit margin. Whatever the measurement, stating the outcome at the beginning of any project sets the standard for all the planning that follows. The mission should be compared with the actual resources, funding, labor and management you have in place so you can set realistic and achievable goals.

Expectations for achieving success come from what each employee, wholesale and retail partner, manager and team member anticipates will be their part in the operation. Is there a job description for each employee, complete with clear and concise outlines of what is expected from each person to achieve overall company success? Owners and managers sometimes rely on the employee to figure out what they need to do to help the business. Unless this is communicated through job descriptions and performance evaluations, employees may not be certain how best to contribute to an overall plan.

Have you planned for and outlined how to handle a serious challenge or crisis? This is one of the most important components of any business checklist. Risk and crisis management planning and training helps prepare all how to safely act and react swiftly and competently. Most business insurance is based on risk factors and outline where concerns are most notable. By using these factors, you can detail how to define these risks and plan to strategize in facing them. Maybe your risks are production oriented and influenced by weather. Some businesses are more vulnerable to post-harvest, processing or transportation issues. Begin by defining your business risk factors and developing training programs and plans to address them through team education and training.

At some point in your selling season, you will evaluate how successful your venture has been. Although a major part of your business, this step is often relegated to a brief overview. From the beginning is it important to decide when and how you will evaluate your operation. Did you achieve the goals you set in the mission phase? Did you meet expectations without or through crisis situations? How did you do in relation to competitors and in the overall market for your goods or services? Some managers evaluate only on net gain/profit, while others look at achievement through planned goals and business indicators. How you define your mission from the beginning helps shape how to evaluate end gains.

Each portion of a business checklist is built on direct, deliberate and succinct communications. Team members, partners, managers and owners must be aware of, and be party to, how goals and objectives will be met. Owners and managers must be able to effectively communicate these ideas to instill employee and partner confidence and reliability. How that is accomplished may be unique to your own business, but the actual communications must be clear and concise.

Whether you manage a seasonal, direct marketing business or a year-round continuous operation, at some point in your annual sales cycle you must define your mission and eventually evaluate how the plan evolved. Starting with a checklist helps you define what is possible to achieve in a given time period, and how successfully you met the defined goals.

Today is a good time to develop and evaluate your own checklist, which will direct your efforts in a strategic and achievable manner for the best results.

The above information is presented for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.