DALLAS — We’re well into the new year! The end of a previous year is always a difficult time for us as business owners. We frantically try to make sure we’ve met last year’s goals.

There’s paperwork and other filings that seem to gobble up the hours. It’s a classic case of the “urgent” crowding out the “important.”

It’s easy to postpone, delay, or outright cancel the most important thing you can do: strategic planning. Yet taking the time to craft, execute and communicate a robust, coherent strategic plan is arguable the most critical step you can take as a business owner.

There are countless ways to develop a strategic plan and everyone has their own opinion on how it can and should be done.

At my company we have a process that we’ve used for over a decade that works well for us, but at the end of the day I would encourage you to find whatever approach works best for you and your team.

My preferred strategic planning approach is built on four core tenets, here is the first one:

1. REVIEW

Before you can even begin to think about where you want your company to go this year, you must first force you and your team to take a hard look at where you’ve been.

To guide this approach, I recommend using the strategic plan that you created the previous year, if you have one. Specifically, go one by one through the goals that you laid out last year and check off the goals you’ve achieved and highlight the goals that still remain.

This enables you to refresh your memory regarding what you were hoping to accomplish and to what extent you’ve succeeded in reaching those goals. Hopefully you began a “year in review process” at the end of last year. It gives you time to get laser-focused on completing the goals that have gone unaddressed.

The other side-benefit of taking this self-inventory is that it tends to boost morale substantially.

In the flurry of activity that characterizes a typical year, it’s easy to forget how much you and your team have accomplished.

But when you sit down and take the time to do a year in review you and your team will realize how much you’ve done and be reenergized about completing whatever is left undone.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.