We’re frighteningly now in the last quarter of the year and regardless of where your fiscal year sits, psychologically most of us naturally feel that we are approaching the end of the annual cycle and will soon be starting a new one.
Because of this, the last quarter is probably the most important quarter of the year and it will have a huge impact on your following year. Here’s why.
The fourth quarter of the year is of course the final race down the back straight to the finish line. There’s the big push to meet the annual revenue and profit targets.
With regards to your strategy and the course that you’re on there is little you can do – it’s all down to your tactics that you are implementing and the results you can bring in.
Q4 is actually far more important than that because now is the time to start planning for next year.
The mistake most business owners make is to focus only on the approaching finish line and wait until the New Year before deciding – and hopefully planning – the year ahead.
This results in lost time at the start of the year and hence often a rushed strategic planning process resulting in an inferior strategy plan. When the New Year begins you want to fire off the starting blocks as quickly as you can.
To do that you need to have your strategy mapped out by the end of this year. And when I said, “…now is the time to start planning for next year” I meant it – no it’s not too soon. You know how busy you are and you know how quickly time flies. (Have you seen the Christmas cards on display in the card shops?) If you still think you have almost 3 months in which to do this, check out this post and work out how much time you really have.
So how do you prepare for next year? Start with your mindset
Make the big decision that 2016 is going to be your best year yet. Resolve that you’re going to eliminate the big problems that held your business back in 2015. Decide that your business is going to work better, achieve more and no longer create the stress and worry it has in the past.
Decide that you’re going to put your business on a path that achieves all these things and becomes bigger, better and whatever it is you decide you want it to be.
Once you have resolved to do this you should start to feel excited about next year – feel a new sense of drive and the determination that you are going to do this and make your business better than it’s ever been.
Only when your mindset is right; only when you feel this new energy and drive to make a big step forward and resolve that 2016 will not be just another year but the year you made everything change for the better. Only then should you think about what you need to do to make this happen.
That is your starting point.
Next you set aside time. This will not happen if you think you’ll get round to it when you have some free time. Something else will grab that time and before you know it time is running out?
Get your diary or calendar – do this now before you tackle the next thing on your list – and allocate the time needed to plan for next year. How much time you need will depend on what plans you already have in place, how well your business is running, the quality of the plan you want to create and the size of your business.
At least to start with, set aside a couple of half-days over the next week or two. The sooner you can fit them in the better. From these sessions you should have a better idea of how much work you need to do in order to plan for next year.
How do you actually plan for the year ahead?
To be ready for next year there are specific actions you need to take – specific steps. A great starting point is to follow the 6 tips (which are really steps) in the free email course underneath this blog post.
These are very top-level steps, which will give you an overall guide as to how to prepare for the year ahead. In this email course I go into some detail and also provide you with links to extra help.
It’s so important that you get this preparation right – it really will make all the difference to not just the kind of year you’ll have but it will help lay the foundation to make each year better and better.
Don’t leave it until it’s too late. Prepare for the year ahead now and sign up for the Small Business Strategy for Success course.
Photo credit: Alan Cleaver on Flickr