Summer just ended a few weeks ago, but the end of the year will be here before you know it. Before the Q4 crush hits in full, now is the time to start thinking about your 2024 strategic planning.
What are your goals for next year? What resources do you need to achieve them? Which successful strategies and tactics should you double down on? Which need to change?
Your 2024 planning should include input from stakeholders across all your departments, from sales and marketing to product and finance. It’s a complicated puzzle, but when the pieces fit together just right, there’s no limit to what your company can achieve.
Here’s what members of our leadership team are thinking about as we head into a new year. If you need help putting together your strategic plan, let’s talk.
Chief Marketing Officer
1. Now that we have some data, I am focused on fine-tuning our ideal customer profile and ensuring I have the right message and right collateral to move that ICP down the funnel.
2. I am continuing to think about how I take one action but have three to five benefits from that action. In a resource constrained startup environment, no effort can be a one-off.
3. Our first few years from a marketing perspective were focused on experiments and piloting new initiatives. Next year will be focused on continued improvements on processes and programmatizing those efforts for additional scale.
Chief Financial Officer
1. Prioritization and clarity: Set incredibly clear strategic goals for 2024 that are measurable and achievable. Prioritize no more than three things to be sure you can execute on them. Communicate these priorities throughout the org with ultimate clarity. Call for all team members to identify how they’ll contribute to those top priorities.
2. Take measured risks: The economic climate, with high interest rates and decreased investment activity, demands that businesses be diligent and pragmatic. There is still a requirement for early-stage startups to take risks, but there is less capacity for errors. High-growth companies need to take on calculated risks, closely measure the return and pivot quickly when needed.
3. Capital efficiency and return on investment: Only invest in things that will move the needle on the top three priorities. Each dollar spent needs to make quantitative returns and/or drive the company towards its key qualitative goals. Reduce spend on ancillary initiatives and instead focus spend on the most impactful and strategically critical initiatives. Consider opportunity cost and cost of time when selecting areas of spend, as those are not always directly reflected in the dollars.
Vice President, Sales
1. Multi-pronged sales strategies: Use one-to-many relationships to your advantage, especially if you’re a smaller company. Pursue strategies where one partnership or referral can lead to many opportunities.
2. Leverage technology: As we’re a HubSpot shop, I’m looking at the platform for ways to further improve, optimize and automate our sales processes. The ability to make more data-driven decisions is key.
3. Deepen collaboration with other departments: Sales and client services should work together to identify customer pain points and potential upsell or cross-sell opportunities.
Chief Investment Officer
1. Stay ahead of changing market dynamics: Just like in 2023, we will face uncertainty and unforeseen circumstances in 2024. The best way to brace for this volatility is to build strong partnerships within the startup and VC world. Every company can apply this strategy to its own market and ecosystem. Continuously collaborate and build relationships with partners that align with — and help drive — your goals.
2. Embrace data-driven operations: In uncertain markets, the impact of every business decision is amplified. That’s why I’m focused on continuing to improve our business processes, including how we track our own KPIs. The more accurate and up-to-date your metrics, the easier it is to make data-driven decisions and stay accountable to your goals.
Vice President, Client Services
1. If, as a company, we are planning a major investment in go-to-market that would increase our customer count, we must also plan for the downstream teams that’ll need to be in place to support those new customers. Onboarding, support and customer success are examples. You want to make sure that these new customers will have an A-plus customer experience.
2. As a way of making existing headcount more efficient, I always consider third-party tools or systems. We leverage HubSpot, so are there partners in their ecosystem that could be added to help reduce some pressure from the support or billing folks? What about a project management tool that could assist with customer onboarding or sprint planning? Is there an HR platform that could reduce reliance on the HR or payroll professionals?
3. Are there high performers on the team that are going to require a larger than average compensation adjustment — especially if you believe it’ll be needed to retain them? Similarly, are there members of the team that are up for promotion to a new role? Having those identified early helps avoid unbudgeted requests later.
Chief Technology Officer
1. Repeatability: As we continue to scale the Product Strategy and Development organization, our processes and common technical solutions need to be more and more repeatable to ensure the high quality, speed of execution and manageable cost that we’re looking to achieve. This means we need more common processes, frameworks and ready-to-use code that can be leveraged for various use cases. To achieve this, we’ll need to define and work on all these items in a pragmatic and organized manner.
2. Prioritization: To keep focused and achieve your goals, you need to prioritize ruthlessly. Prioritizing when you’re smaller is easier, since you can keep context of the things you’re prioritizing. As you grow, you’ll need to drive a culture of organizing and planning scope, so it can be prioritized correctly. I look for 2024 to continue to enable leaders within our organization to help prioritize and successfully achieve our goals and our clients’ goals in an efficient and focused manner.