FOR MANY PEOPLE, the last quarter of the year tends to be the busiest time of the year. In addition to the regular tasks of life and work are all the activities revolving around the big holiday season. For a small business owner-operator, you can easily multiply fourth-quarter “busyness” by a factor of two. If you add to the weekly routine the extra push to meet the company’s annual goals and the need to create a budget and strategic plan for the coming year, the scenario of a very-hectic fourth quarter is understandable.
Good planning from the start and regular plan “checkups” throughout the year can go a long way toward reducing the year-end stress level for any business owner. Here are some of the key points from the business budgeting and planning tips collected by the team at Info Entrepreneurs (www.infoentrepreneurs.org).
• As easy as it is to get caught up in the daily requirements of your business and problem solving, do carve out the time necessary for thorough budget planning and goal setting.
• Engage in some company self-examination, take stock of the competition, consider new opportunities, evaluate the marketplace, and determine where you want your company to be in that market.
• Among other things, include in your annual business plan the changes you want to make, your objectives and goals, key challenges, your staffing structure, your financial performance and forecasts, and the investments required for service efficiency and growth.
• Put your operational budget on paper, providing you and your managers with the means to control your finances, fund your immediate commitments, make confident and competent financial decisions, and set money aside for emergencies or future projects.
• Create SMART goals — goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Business planning doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, but it does need to be structured. An annual plan — with regular reviews and course corrections — will help you maintain your focus, achieve greater financial discipline, build efficiencies, and keep you in business for a long time.
column by BAXTER TROUTMAN
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing company with offices in Bartow, Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Arcadia. A citrus grower who served in the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges and concerns of today’s farmer.