Planning For 2012: What Went Right, What Went Wrong…

This is the time to take stock of what went right and wrong in your business in the year that will soon end. Are the things that went right one time events or sustainable? Are the things that went wrong symbolic of deeper problems in the company or were they events that provided lessons for the future? What are your customers saying to you about what they like or don’t like? What do they say makes your company different than the competition and are you using that intelligence in your marketing efforts? What things have your customer contact people heard and noticed that should be taken into account for planning the year ahead?

Here’s a fine planning strategy that a local professional services company has employed over the past three years that has enabled them to sustain a tremendous downturn in their industry and survive and sustain company health in an industry decimated by high unemployment and firm closures. They project multiple scenarios-good and bad-for the coming year. The scenarios are based on actual experience in past business cycles. They run detailed cash flow and income and expense spread sheets (more evidence that programs like Excel represent one of the greatest technological inventions in history) and then run through the decisions that have to be made if each scenario occurs. This considerable effort pays off in several important ways:

1.    Very tough decisions are embraced long before they have to be made and the best strategies and tactics can be laid out and carefully considered. So, the confidence in those decisions is raised greatly and they can be implemented carefully and rationally when necessary.

2.    The projections create a structure for constant monitoring of company performance and trends which minimizes surprises, especially bad ones.

So what can really go right in the coming year is that you can be better prepared for what the economy brings and be more in control of your own destiny.