Nov. 26 2018 06:00 AM

While the year may be coming to an end, it also marks the beginning of strategic planning for the upcoming year.

It’s hard to believe we are already in Q4, the final quarter of the calendar year and for many, the fiscal year. While the year may be coming to an end, it also marks the beginning of strategic planning for the upcoming year. It’s a time to conduct a deep dive review and analysis as to what did and didn’t work well over the year and to begin rebuilding the roadmap that will guide your team to success going forward.

I hope you’re gathering your team and taking a hard look at your market map. This is an important and strategically useful tool that helps the people on your team see the birds-eye view of your marketplace. The market map helps with intelligent decision-making.

To create one, list all the buyers in your space, even those you’re not working with. Next, identify all the sales channels in your space, including those you don’t work with, to uncover opportunities. Channels may include your sales reps, referrals, independent reps, suppliers, customers and resellers. Also list all the associations and networking alliances relevant to your company. Connect the dots by identifying the connections between your company, the potential customer base and sales channels. You’ll be able to see how your marketplace is evolving.

Next, list all the suppliers in your market, not just those you use. These are the places where your company may spend its money. Having your team see where and how you’re spending money compared to the potential supply chain and offerings may have a significant strategic impact on your business.

Finally, list all the competitors, even those you feel aren’t a threat. Your team needs to be aware of them, as their presence may alter how you conduct business in the near future. Look at your competitors’ connections to the buyers, suppliers and sales channels in your space. What you’re hoping to see is little to no similarities with these important stakeholders. If there is a lot of overlap, you haven’t carved out your unique space in your industry. You’re probably seen as no different than your competitors, which means you’ll have some planning to do in the off season.

Judith M. Guido is chairwoman of Guido & Associates, a business management company. She can be reached at