Right now your holiday may be fading into a distant memory and your business may be taking over as the quiet period of the summer break draws to a close.
This is an important time in the year’s annual cycle because as we approach the last quarter of the year we need to reflect and review on how the year has gone, what we can do to make the final quarter a great one and start to think about how to make next year better.
So, before you get pulled back into your business and your time taken over by its demands, find some quiet time and a quiet place and answer these 3 vital questions.
1. Where am I on my plan?
Assuming you created a strategy and set measurable goals that would take you closer to your Strategic Destination, where are you now?
If you know where you are on your plan then firstly, that means you’ve set up the metrics that will give you the visibility you need to keep your business on course and know where it is at any time.
Regardless of where you actually are on the plan, knowing your current position gives you a huge advantage over most business owners.
Depending on where you are on your plan – on course, off course, on course but lagging behind or on course but ahead – you can see this and figure out what you need to do to achieve or exceed your end of year goals.
2. Can I achieve/exceed my plan?
If you’re off course or on course but behind, what led you to this position? What caused this to happen?
You may have veered off course say because an unexpected opportunity took over from the ideal prospects you normally target. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because this new course may actually be better than the one you planned because this new opportunity may have opened new doors that were previously shut for example. Just be sure that this new course is a good one in the long term and if it is then change your strategy to properly exploit it.
If the new course is fraught with danger and uncertainty then look at how to get back on the course you planned and the certainty that came with it.
If you’re on your planned course but behind, what caused that to happen? Did you lose a key client or a key person in your business? Did your customers spend less than anticipated? Did your competitors provide a better than expected rival product or service? Did the demands of your customers change?
Whatever the reason for being behind on your plan, you need to reassess if you can actually achieve your end goals and if not then you need to reduce your expectations and focus on figuring out how you’re going to make it up next year so that you still hit your Strategic Destination as close to as planned as possible.
If you are on course or ahead then you should look at how you can exceed your end of year goals and by how much and you should amend your strategy plan accordingly and possibly even bring forward your Strategic Destination.
3. What is the one thing I can do that will have the biggest positive impact on my business in the coming months and into next year?
Regardless of whether you’re on course, off course, on course and ahead or on course but behind, is there something you can do that could have a big impact as you approach the end of the year? Could you resurrect current products or services with a new marketing campaign? Could you target new types of customers in a different market? (A big impact does not have to be measured in revenue but could be in lead generation.) Could you offer a new service to your best customers that could increase their spend with you, build relationships and lock them in?
These 3 questions assume that you created and implemented a strategy plan and that you created the metrics to give you the visibility you needed to know where you are on that plan.
If you didn’t create a strategy plan, or did but not the metrics to measure how well your business is performing against the plan, then you don’t really know how well your business is doing or what will happen in the future.
Even if you’re bringing in the revenue you want, how will you know if it’s due more to luck than judgement? Did opportunities happen to come your way that has made it a good year and if so, how will luck stay with you so that you can replicate or even exceed it next year?
You can’t and that’s the problem with running a business based on hope and luck over certainty and control.
If you’re not achieving the revenue you hoped then luck simply wasn’t on your side.
Either way, without a strategy and the visibility needed to see how your business is going, then luck was either on your side or it wasn’t.
This period we’re in now is the last time you have to impact this year’s business is any discernable way. Once we’re in October and the 4th quarter your focus needs to turn to next year and on what you’re going to do to make it a better year than this one.
So, take this time out, answer these key questions. If you’re struggling to answer them or the answers aren’t the ones you hoped they’d be then don’t simply plough on. Do what you need to do so that you can both answer the questions and adapt your business according to those answers.
If you don’t know where you are on your business or aren’t on course as planned then contact me and let me help you. A handful of focused sessions may be all it takes.
If you want extra guidance on how to get your business on course then check out Small Business Strategy for Success.
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A strategic destination is a clearly defined destination for you to aim your business at. Ideally it would take your business to the next level. It should be a massive milestone that gets your business a big step closer to your ultimate vision.