6 Tips for Year-End Strategic Planning

September 11, 2018

What goals did you set this year to improve and grow your business?  Is your vision clear in your mind and are your existing goals and activities getting you closer to that vision?



Each successful business has a clear vision that outlines the ideal state.  Without a vision of what you want your future to look like, you are unable to create a clear path of goals and actions that will get you to your desired state.  Now, the path may sometimes change (as circumstance, competitors, landscape changes), but the long term vision is still un-shakingly there. 


With September in a full swing, it's time to work even harder on getting you to your desired accomplishments this year.  The following key elements of pre- year-end business prep will give your business the advantage of a strategic head start over the competition:


1. Review the progress of goals you wanted to accomplish this year.  Identify all actions (and timeline) that you and your team will take to get all your goals for this year completed.  I recommend you strive for completing most of them this fall.  With year end schedules already starting to fill up, it may get harder to reach clients, suppliers and service providers as we approach the year's end.


2. Re-map your path to your vision.   Your vision would have not changed, however often the path to get to your vision will look different as new competitors enter the landscape or existing competitors force you to make new adjustments to your activities.  Add any new goals to refocus your path and start outlining your next year's actions in a more concrete way.  


3. Review your financials for 2018.  I recommend you run your books and review your details with a professional accountant and tax professional before the year end.  Plan for tax return time, know what your books look like before the year ends so that you are in a position to plan your investments, adjust headcount etc.


4. Create your budget for next fiscal year.  Assuming your fiscal year end correlates with calendar year end, new budget season is upon you.  Depending on the size of your business, this process may take you a week or it may take you months to complete.  Outlining what you will spend your money on, where the money will come from and what profitability rate you want to accomplish will give you the peace of mind that you will run a profitable business as long as you stick to your budget.


5. Think outside the box.  I challenge all my clients to sit down and look at their processes and business from within and from a view of an outsider.  What differentiates you from the next company?  How can you become better, leaner and happier?  What can you do differently that will lower your cost, increase your presence, increase your authentic outreach to customers, increase your customer satisfaction and benefit your top and bottom lines?  Noah Fleming, a business growth consultant and a #1 best selling author of "Evergreen: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving" introduces the concept of 3Cs: Content, Character, and Community.  How can your business deepen its content, positively grow and engage your community and strengthen the character your business operates with?  


6. Continue learning.  What courses can you and your team take that will make you stronger in what you do and in what you can offer your customers?  Investing into human capital and continuous learning has always been at forefront of any successful individual and business as upgrading your skills and widening your knowledge creates more opportunity for everyone involved .  If you don't read every day, you should start.  Plan for your learning.  Ask your team what courses they would like to take on top of their daily reading.  Allocate budget for company wide learning, let individuals chose what they want to learn about, let sharing of knowledge flow through your organization.  Lead by example, show your team how learning can be fun, yet useful.


Yours in business,

Lenka Bolton, CPA, CMA

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada