It's Time to Reflect and it's Time to Plan

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It's the end of 2012.  How did your business do this past year?  What worked?  What didn't?  Was there something you intended to do, but didn't find the opportunity to get it done?  Did you reach your goals?  Did you actually have any specific written goals for 2012?  Did you have fun operating your business?  Did your business grow over the previous year?  Did you make more money than in 2011?  Was 2012 a success?

Now is the time to step back and look at your business's performance this past year as well as your own personal performance running it.  This kind of assessment is critical to understanding your business and is the beginning of planning for your success in 2013.  It's an opportunity to work on your business rather than in your business.  A moment in time where you can stop what Michael Gerber describes as "doing it, doing it, doing it" and really see what happened with your business and your business life in 2012. 

So take a minute and take a cold hard look at how you and your business did in 2012.  Answer questions like the ones I posed above and look at your metrics.  Look for trends.  Write down everything you find.  Not writing down the things you find will leave  everything nebulous and impairs your ability to properly assess performance in the previous year.  That defeats the purpose of doing the assessment, which is to gain clarity about your business.

With the clarity you gain from assessing 2012, it's time to plan your business success in 2013.  This is an opportunity to step back and design what you would like your business to be in the coming year.  What will your sales be?  What products and services will you offer?  Who, specifically, will be your customers?  What demographics, geography and markets will you serve?  What will your pricing and margins be?  What is the message you will take to the marketplace to promote what you offer?  What will be your costs and how do you plan to control them?  What will your profits be?  What key initiatives will benefit your business or be necessary to create the business you envision?  Who will you need to hire or with whom will you need to partner?  Do the answers to these questions really need to be extensions of 2012 performance, or are real changes needed to get you where you want to go in 2013?

Lots of questions.  But questions that need to be asked so you will have a clear idea of what needs to be done.  That is, to have the information necessary to create a written plan.  Yes, a written plan really is necessary.  I think the following quote from the late Sir John Harvey-Jones, Chairman of the British company Imperial Chemical Industries, says it all:

Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. The nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise, rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.

The plan you create doesn't have to be elaborate unless you're going for a loan or investor funding, it just has to be well thought out and written down.  As a quote from Dr. Graeme Edwards points out:

It’s Not the Plan That’s Important, It’s the Planning.

That is, the most important thing that happens in the planning process is what goes on between your ears.  Your business is a product of your thoughts which lead to decisions and then actions.  To the extent that you plan diligently, the better the information you will have to work with the better the analysis you will make about your situation.  The more you step back and take a look at your business with fresh eyes, the more likely that you will be creative and inspired in your approach to your business.  The end result will be that the quality of your thoughts will improve leading to better decisions and better actions.  Better actions lead to more success and you will likely make more money.  It all starts with a well thought out plan.

Do yourself and your business a favor.  Create a business plan and increase the odds that you will be successful in the coming year.  I wish you success in creating a plan that fashions the business you intend in 2013.

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Please comment on this post

Posted by virgilioleyretana on
It's a timely reminder as we go over what transpired in 2012 and as we look forward to what's ahead in 2013 and beyond.
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