Annual Planning

As the year comes to a close, have you completed your New Year’s Resolutions? If you are a business owner, have you completed your 2013 Operating Plan? What do these two activities have in common?

Resolutions come about as we reflect on the year as it comes to a close and vow to make improvements in the coming year. The New Year is a fresh start to be a better person, lose weight, or make positive changes that reflect a commitment to our core values. Next week will be a very busy week in the Fitness Centers across the country as people seek to get in better shape and shed the “excess pounds” picked up over the holidays. Some people are more disciplined than others as they write down their resolutions and stick to them, but for most people it is an informal process filled with great intentions. They take it day-to-day and as the weeks wear on, unplanned events interfere with the new schedule and eventually the old pattern reemerges. The cycle is repeated and at the end of the year we make new resolutions filled with good intentions.

For many small business owners, the process can look very similar. Operational plans are not a formal process and become more of a daily occurrence dictated by the owner’s reaction to external demands. Even with a formal operating plan, one can argue that the daily pressures from external forces will still drive the priorities, so why spend time on an annual operating plan if activity is dictated by daily forces? The simple answer is that with an operating plan, you are taking steps to run the business and without a formal operating plan, the business is running you! Documenting goals and measuring against them will provide the ability to respond quickly to unplanned variances.

Have a very safe and prosperous 2013 and remember that what gets measured gets done!

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