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Do It Now! - Year end task list
By Glen Chapman

Even though the financial year has started, it is never too late or too early to start the financial year off on the right foot. The following activities will get you started along the road to a great year for your business.

Review Your Results - You can't plan the coming period unless you know where you have been to some degree. By answering the following questions you will get a picture of the last twelve months.

Has our activity for the past period been a success?
What went well and what could be done better?
How did we perform to our budget?
How are our results compared to the rest of the industry or the economy?
Did we achieve our goals (look at business and personal goals here)?
How are our staff?
Are they fresh, happy and ready to keep ploughing ahead to a new year?
Or are they in need of a lift, not sure about the future of the company?
All these things give us a good picture of our performance and our success or failures.

"If you want to change some thing in your life, you need to change something in your life!"

"The definition of insanity is doing the same things you have done in the past and expecting a different result"

So to change we need to look for where we can change and improve on our past performances. Or even discard past ideas that did not work.

Business Plan - This is your working plan. Not the 50 pager that will sit in the draw for another year, but a couple of pages of key information. Work on a 12 - 18 month cycle to plan. We like 18 months because it will take you beyond the next financial year and it means that you always have something to aim for, but you are still able to accurately project for this time frame.

Describe what you want your business to be like in 18 months. How many customers, what turnover, how big, what markets, what products. Once you have the general ideas, put some numbers to them. This gives you your starting set of medium goals (time bound and measurable).

Now look at your current position and briefly describe it in similar terms to the above projection. This gives us the reality check of where we really are. Make it a snap shot of the business today.

Once you have the NOW and THEN positions you can start to develop the short  (1 - 6 months) and medium (6 - 12 months) strategies that will move you towards the THEN position. Look at the successes and failures you had in the past period and work on eliminating the failures (or changing them) and working on the successes.

Budget - A well thought through cashflow budget is a very powerful management tool. If you start from scratch and work through each of your activities or products, and project marketing and sales activities. These should be based on meeting your business plan that you have just finished. Starting from scratch is better then using the % increase from the previous year. It will be more accurate and does not limit your thinking.

Income should be based on your strategies. Cost of goods/production based on the sales you are projecting and the fixed costs can be based on last years figures. that means we need to finish our accounting for last year too. This will give you the starting position of finance, cash reserves and your fixed current costs.

Over estimate your costs and under estimate your income. Be realistic in other words. So that you can see what risk is in your budget, finish it off with a risk analysis. Change prices or sales up and down by jumps of 10% and costs similar. How does your bottom line profit change. Then have a look at the probabilities of these outcomes and look at ways to identify these possible changes before or as they happen so that you can plan to arrest or minimise the effects.

One last tip here is to involve the people responsible for achieving the budget in the budgeting process. When working with bigger firms I have seen budgets set at head office with out consideration for the field staff. As soon as they saw it they said it wasn't achievable and didn't even try. If you let them help then they will have more ownership and control over the budget and its achievement.

Staff Reviews - one of the areas we suggested you look at in your business review was staff. This is a good time of the year to do a review of your staff and your performance. Arrange to talk with each of them over then next month or so and discuss the past year and what they want to achieve over the next year and beyond.

If you are up to it let them do a reverse review on you. You might find some interesting things about how you are seen and how your relationship with them could improve. Also review yourself. How do you think you performed? What goals do you want to achieve for next year?

A great reference to read before you go through this process is "The One Minute Manager.". This book will give you fresh perspective on dealing with your staff and this would be a great opportunity to employ the principles of the One Minute Manager in your business.

Set the action list - from the business plan, the budget and the staff reviews you should be able to set down a basic action list for each part of the business. This action list will have the basic what, by who, by when format. Also include who each person can go to for help or advice for a task if needed.

Review your personal Goals - Set some for the next twelve months (include your family)

Plan your holiday time with staff - if you never plan it then you will never take it. If you have staff then work through to see approximately when everyone would like to take holidays and put together a preliminary plan. This will most likely change, but it gives everyone the chance to get the time they want.

Also think about work loads when people are away. You will find some people wont take holidays because of the extra work it causes before and after they go. Think about how the workload could be shared, or even get a temp in while they are away. Of course this will cost a bit more but it may be worth it in the long run.

(© 1995 – 2007 Glen Chapman)


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