Preparing for the New Year

In all this rushing around we lose sight of the fact that this is also the time when we need to complete projects before year end and prepare for the New Year ahead.

by Mark Rosenzweig, Score Accredited Counselor, Score NE Mass Chapter 411

In the frantic time between Thanksgiving and Christmas we all have to deal with the holiday rush. That rush is now starting earlier and earlier as merchants try to pry open our wallets to make the holiday shopping binge as large as possible.  If you are a merchant it is one crazy time of the year and if you’re a shopper like me it is hell on wheels.

In all this rushing around we lose sight of the fact that this is also the time when we need to complete projects before year end and prepare for the New Year ahead.  If we are in retail, the task is complicated by the holiday frenzy.  In manufacturing, it is making that last quarter push to help what might not have been a terrific year look a little better.  And if we are trying to start a business, it is often a time when  planning is put aside until the holidays have passed.  However, despite the pressure you are under and your business situation, I have found that this is really a great time to test business assumptions and plan your rollout.

Okay, here they are, the late-in-the-year action steps.

ACTIVITIES

  • First, you need to do your final year end numbers. Push down inventory as low as you can and hold off taking on more of it then you need before year end.
  • Then do your tax planning with your accountant.  This is a good time to write off that excess or stale inventory (or put it on sale at a huge discount to move it and create buzz at the same time).
  • Next get a little tougher on accounts receivable and don’t let people put off paying you until next year.
  • You should also slow payment on your accounts payable, preserving cash whenever possible.
  • Finally if you have had a good year, it may be time to say thanks to your employees with bonuses or gifts to show your appreciation for their hard work.

PLANNING

  • Now is a good time to finalize your plans for next year and set quarterly budgets and goals for the year ahead.  Set stretch goals that require you to make changes and get out of your comfort zone to achieve them.  Those kinds of goals make you think outside the box, out of your normal way of operating, and to rethink the business methods you would need to achieve them.  They are a good way to drive improvements throughout your business.
  • Ask yourself the tough questions.  Think about what worked well this year and what did not.  How can you improve upon what worked well, and how to you change the stuff that did not work so well.
  • How is your talent pool and is it time to upgrade with new hires or changes to staff?  Is it time to reorganize and put fresh eyes to parts of your business that need attention?  The New Year is a great time to make those changes and get the push started early in the New Year for improvement throughout the business.

Planning is not just for new businesses.  Setting a plan in place and using it to drive improvement is critical in all organizations from start-up to mega-million-dollar corporations. Focus on real issues, you don’t need a large document, tight and compact is best.  Don’t go easy on yourself or your business.  Drive change and improvement now for the year ahead, if you do next holiday season will be much better off as a result.

Come and see us at SCORE, our talented, seasoned executives is ready and willing help you work through the process.