Mark Richardson, CR, is an author, columnist, and business growth strategist. He authored the best-selling book, How Fit Is Your Business? as well as his latest book, Fit to Grow. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.275.0208.
Many cultures have a tradition of marking the passage from one year to the next, whether it’s a party or just spending time with friends and family. Some also look at it as an opportunity to take inventory of the previous year and make resolutions for the new one. In business, the fourth quarter of the year can, and should, be a time for serious planning. This involves looking at the passing year’s financial results and beginning to make and test new forecasts and budgets for the coming year.
As you get ready to launch into 2018, take a look
at your fourth-quarter planning process. Are you currently investing enough time and energy into preparing for 2018? Are you creating a written plan, the way you would create a blueprint for a remodeling project? Are you making sure you have alignment and buy-in on the 2018 plan and budget from all the key team members?
The businesses that achieve consistent, sustainable results over the years are also the ones answering Yes to these questions. They have begun working on this process early and are investing the right amount of time discussing and thinking through the New Year. Although levels of risk or aggressiveness for each 2018 plan may vary, these successful businesses include opportunities and threats in the planning process. They also look at and present these ideas to the team in a way that gets everyone excited about the 2018 action items.
The following is a simple checklist and some questions that will help you look at how you’re doing in this planning process and address any areas that may still be outstanding.
1. Are you taking a deep inventory of 2017, looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly? Is this process drilling into both objective metrics and subjective perspectives?
2. Were your 2017 predictions vs. actuals accurate within 5 to 10 percent?
3. Are you involving key team members in the planning process?
4. In formulating your 2018 plan, are you looking at important environmental indicators such as home appreciation, interest rates, labor dynamics, and the stock market?
5. Is your plan for 2018 aggressive but realistic? Is that how everyone on the team would articulate it?
6. Are all of your key team players aligned with the vision and direction for 2018?
7. Is your plan in writing? (This doesn’t have to be more than a few pages.)
8. Have you shared your vision with people with whom you have strategic alliances and professional relationships for their reactions and feedback?
9. Do you have a process in place for reviewing and adjusting the plan throughout next year?
10. Are you planning to kick off the year by celebrating 2017 and communicating and motivating everyone for 2018?
If the answers to all of these are Yes, then you’re in the top 5 percent of the remodeling industry. On the other hand, if there are very few Yes answers, then you’re approaching your business like going to Las Vegas, rolling the dice, and praying for a positive result. If you’re missing a Yes or two, then it’s not too late. You can still work on these and get where you need to be before the big day.
In the final analysis, there is very little downside to incorporating a yearly planning process as you improve and grow your business.