Why You Should Start Planning for the Upcoming Year Now
The summer is just winding down. Everyone’s settling back into the typical work schedule after vacations and long weekends. It may not seem like it, but now is the time you should begin your planning process for the upcoming year.
Don’t wait until December 20 to start thinking about the new year. Read on as we look at the reasons why now is the time to get a jump on your planning process.
Quarter Three Results Can Inform Next Year’s Goals
September 30 marks the close of the third quarter. By this point in the year, you understand the trajectory your business has been heading on and can generate an accurate projection of what the last three months of the year will look like.
From there, you can begin to make financial projections for next year that will inform all sorts of business decisions. By establishing your financial projections on a month-by-month basis for the coming year, you’re able to understand where you can afford to spend, how aggressively you need to pursue new business, and what changes you should make to your current approach to give yourself the best shot at financial growth.
There’s no need to wait for the end of Q4 to begin making projections for the next year. And in fact, waiting until December 31 forces you into a crunch to get a plan together by the first week in January, meaning you’ll rush to make decisions and won’t be as thoughtful or thorough as you should be.
Don’t Hold Up Your Partners and Suppliers
All smart business owners are beginning the planning process for the following year at the start of the fourth quarter. You don’t want to be left behind. With business partners and suppliers establishing their own budgets, you want to be sure that they’re factoring your relationship into their future plans.
If you have strategic partners that you do co-branding or marketing with, you need to be talking about what that relationship will look like in the following year. Will it stay the same, expand, or is it time to part ways? Same with suppliers: they need to know where their income is coming from in the new year, and if you’re going to be making a significant change to your relationship with them, give them a heads up. They’ll either need to find new business to fill the void you’ll create if you settle on another vendor, or they may have to look at adding new headcount or stepping up their resources internally if you’re going to be relying on them more heavily in the new year.
Make Plans to Increase Headcount or Consider Outsourcing
Hopefully, this past year has been a profitable one for you, and you’re looking to expand in January. If that’s the case, now is the time to begin thinking about what that expansion will look like. The hiring process can be lengthy, and so you want to begin thinking about your needs now, so that you can have the employee vetted, hired, and on-boarded to start the new year ready to go!
If your business has seen some success but isn’t quite at a place where you can take on additional full-time employees, you might want to consider outsourcing tasks related to administration, accounting, or even content creation or social media for your own business. If you decide to go this route, you want to have time to explore your outsourcing options and thoroughly research your top choices. Again, you need to start this process now to give yourself enough time have your new support system in place for January 1.
Capitalize on the Holiday Season
The winter holidays are often a hectic time. People are traveling to see family, heading out on winter vacation, rushing to do last-minute shopping, or are caught up in strategic planning for the next year.
If you’ve already done the strategic planning legwork in the early fall, you’ve created an opportunity to gain traction with clients and encourage referrals. The holidays are a great time to show appreciation, and sending personalized gifts, cards, or even a thoughtful email to your most valued clients can make a meaningful impression.
The holidays are also about giving back, so you should consider doing some charitable work in your community. Perhaps you volunteer to help the local soup kitchen revamp their blog and social media to catch the eye of new volunteers. Or maybe you assist the local children’s choir in promoting their holiday show with fliers you hang up around your city or town. If the work is good, it’s likely someone will ask the group who helped them with their marketing efforts. This not only gets your name out there with potential new clients, it also creates a positive association for them from the start.
If you’re too busy trying to throw together a last-minute strategic plan for the next year, you won’t have time to do this important community outreach.
Advanced planning is the key to business success. When you allow yourself enough time to create thoughtful projections, get a handle on your business needs for the future, prepare for new strategic partnerships or make room for new employees, and take some time to give back over the holidays, you set yourself up for a happier, healthier, and more productive new year. If you start your planning now, you’ll be thankful come January 1.