Mid Summer Planning – Looking Back and Looking Forward

June = Halfway point in the Calendar year.  It’s astonishing how every year, January and February drag on a bit and then life speeds up in March and April, then May goes by relatively quickly and all of a sudden it’s June!!  For the kids, it marks the end of a school year.  For Public Practicing Accountants, this month is the last push to get all of the Sole Proprietor and Calendar End Corporation Tax Returns completed.  But what next?   

As a business owner, it may be the perfect time for you to reflect on where you’ve been.  To take stock of what went well, and what can be improved upon.  Use this information to plan for the next 6 months.  If you were able to plan out your year, look at how close you are to what you had budgeted for.  Where did you deviate from your initial plan?  Do you want to get back to the original plan?  Or do you like where you’re currently going?  

From an accounting perspective, now is a great time to look at your financial results.  And it doesn’t have to take too much out of your day to do this.  Look at the information that you have and compare it to the last quarter, the last year and the last month.  See if any trends are occurring.  Does something look really weird?  Like it’s too good to be true?  Or are things inline with what you expected?    If you are using an accounting software program like QuickBooks Online or Xero, you can extract this information relatively quickly. Take the time (an hour or so) to really look at the numbers.  And take the time to compare these numbers to other periods (another hour).  Then spend some time figuring out the story that the numbers are telling you.  Is the current recession affecting you positively or negatively?  Do you need to alter your purchasing schedule for your inventory?  Do you need to think about extending credit to long time customers.  Do you need to reduce staff?  Increase staff?  This part may take 2 hours or so.   

Then create a plan to carry you through to the remainder of the year.  And to set yourself up for planning into the following years.   This part may take a bit of time, but if you spent a couple of hours working on a plan and set some concrete deadlines towards realizing these plans, you may have spent the equivalent of 6-8 hours of time on this planning process. This doesn’t have to be done all in a single day.  You can do each part in isolation and stretch it out over a few days. However, I would recommend that you do accomplish this in a short amount of time (say 1 week).  This allows you to keep the momentum going and to not have to revisit what you’ve already reviewed each time.   

During the reflection time, be proud of what you have accomplished and appreciate the struggles that you have faced or are facing,but take an honest look at where things are not going according to your plan.  And figure out what things need to be changed.  Most of the time, you can work towards correcting things that have caused you to go “off track”.    If you’re unsure as to what is causing you to go on an unforeseen path, chat with your management team, bring them in to help brainstorm.  You have hired them in a senior position for their skills.  Let them use those skills to support the business.  If you are the management team, reach out to people you trust to help you explore different solutions.  Ask your accountant too.  Getting a different perspective can help create new opportunities.