Here's a year end thought for you: budgeting is not strategy. While preparing and managing to a budget is an important part of your "looking forward" activities, don't let your annual budget substitute for a real strategic plan. Budgets lack vision, passion, and can't convey leadership directives. Strategies need to clearly outline Executive Management's vision of the markets to be served, the types of products and services to be offered, and efforts to establish and enhance your company's brand in the marketplace. From these strategies, clear tactical guidelines can be developed for executing initiatives and affecting real change.
Most strategic planning efforts fall down on execution. By establishing clear tactical directives, naming responsible parties, and demanding regular progress updates, you can avoid the "dusty plan on the shelf" trap that so many fall into.
Often, an outside moderator can offer value by preparing for and conducting planning sessions, aiding in the development of tactical initiatives, and mentoring your key players to actually get things done. Don't be afraid to ask for help - successful strategic planning is worth the investment.