As the 2017 calendar year end approaches, it’s a good time to sit down with your advisors to review the expected financial results, including tax planning, and discuss and pin down some important financial and revenue, HR and organizational, IT and operations, and customer development / sales and marketing goals and strategies for 2018.
It is a 3-stage process and our recommendation that you start by looking outside of your business:
- What is happening in your market?
- What product or service trends are taking place?
- Are you still satisfying customer needs?
- What is your competition doing?
- What Government or other influences are changing how you manage? Like minimum wage legislation and Bill 148.
The purpose in doing this is to make sure that you are market focused, after all that is where you compete for market share. Its important to know how your customers rate you, are your products or service still providing a competitive advantage and value to your customers? Is your pricing structure right, maybe a price increase in 2018 is justified by your quality of service?
It should not be seen as an esoteric exercise that is not worth the effort- it can really help identify areas requiring your attention.
The look internally and do a SWOT, listing your top 5 strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then assess these 20 items with a view to summarising the 5 or 6 Key Issues facing the business. Typically, there could be two or three weaknesses or threats that need to be dealt with, and at least one or two opportunities, hopefully more!
For example, a Key Issue could be: The accounting platform is 10 years old and is too slow and requires regular fixes.
A strength is unlikely to be a key issue, you just want to sustain it.
This is the most important part of your plan – setting a limited number of Enterprise Goals for the next 12 months for each of the following, remembering that the Key Issues listed in Stage 2 must be dealt with.
- Financial and revenue targets. Prepare a full P&L and cash flow forecast.
- HR and organizational. What resources do you need to support the plan? Are your employees committed to the plan, do they have objectives, and are you sure that they understand their roles and expectations?
- IT and Operations. What are your goals for hardware/software platforms, what CRM, accounting or other IT or operational goals are critical to success?
- Customer development / sales and marketing goals.
For example: Accounting software: We will upgrade by 1st February, obtaining quotes from QuickBooks and NetSuite by 30 November. Install February. Person responsible; Controller.
We do recommend that you take time out now, probably at least a week in total, by spending a couple of spare hours every day in developing the 3-stage template. The exercise in reviewing the market and external factors, and all of your internal functions, will enable you to avoid pitfalls, and be proactive to meet most challenges. Understanding what is going well, and what needs attention (i.e. The Key Issues), clears the mind and provides focus on the right things.
Should you need help and would like the benefits of an objective third party, please email me – we are privileged to help our clients. firstname.lastname@example.org
A good annual plan, with goals, actions ands accountabilities, will likely lead to staying on track in 2018, AND increased business value over time. This is your ultimate goal.
Plutus Consulting Group