Are You Ready for 2013?

As the new year begins, business leaders should ask themselves several questions:

  • Did the business perform as well as I had expected or wanted?
  • What did we learn last year?
  • What will I do differently in 2013 to improve my business?

Most of us look at the new year as a time for reflection and resolution, and a fresh start that holds the promise of success and achievement.  We begin the year with the standard resolutions of working harder, improving the business, and doing things better.   But, without a plan and commitment, most of these resolutions will be lost in the daily activities of running a business.

Every successful business has a plan to guide them toward their destination.  This plan sets the course for the business, and provides leaders with a map to help them manage and achieve their goals for the year.

The most important part of this process is to identify, specifically, what you want the business to accomplish and improve on this year.  As you think about your goals, consider the following:

  • What did we learn and what were the results of the past year?
  • What are the anticipated changes in my market and customer base?
  • Are there any organizational changes that I need to make?
  • What potential problems may encounter during the year?

These goals can range from increasing sales, reducing costs, improving cash flow, training, etc.  The key is to focus on those areas that will have the most positive impact on your business performance this year, and for the future.

It is critical that you limit the number of goals to be accomplished.  Too many goals will dilute your efforts, and result in not making the progress that you want and need for your business.  Ideally, you should have five major goals for the year.  Each goal should be written down and meet the SMART criteria – Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; and Timely.  If the goal does not meet ALL of these criteria, chances are that it will not be achieved during the year.

After you have completed this process and identified your goals, the next step is to develop specific action plans for achieving each goal. The major steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the requirements for each goal, including resources required, responsibility,     timing, and your desired outcome.
  2. Develop the specific steps required to accomplish each goal, and set milestones for each step to measure your progress through the year.
  3. Develop a reporting system to measure your progress on a regular basis throughout the year.
  4. Review your progress monthly to stay on course.

Once your action plans are complete, an annual budget, and monthly budgets should then be prepared for the business.  These budgets will help you monitor business results, identify trends (good and bad), and measure your progress and improvement throughout the year.  There are a number of very good budget templates available on the internet that can guide you through this process.

After setting your objectives and preparing your budget, use them during the year to manage the  business, guide decision-making, and chart progress.  Regular reporting and reviews will also help to identify issues and problems early to keep you on course.

If you have any question or comments, or would like more information about the planning process, please contact us through this blog, or call us directly at (727) 637-4666.

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