January to December… Our calendar encourages us to divide our personal and business lives into those 12-month chunks of time. But what could happen if we decided to break out of that traditional mind-set – especially when it comes to business planning?
My “15-Month-Year” Business Planning & Coaching Session
I recently sat in on a “15-month-year” coaching session. The facilitator (Rich German) suggested that we could blow our competition out of the water. How? Just “hit the ground running” at the beginning of the year. And how would we pull that off? By using the three months before the start of the upcoming year for business planning. Use the time to brainstorm, outline, plan, fine-tune, and initiate the actions needed to make that happen.
Wow! What would happen if ALL businesses really adopted that “planning ahead” mindset?
I always encourage my clients to get their next-year planning completed and annual budget in place well before the end of the current year. But I never really thought of it as a “15-month-business-year.” The conceptual mind-shift impressed me – and re-ignited some thoughts that I’d like to share!
Business Planning, Budgeting & Tracking – Why They Do It
Some businesses are forced to plan ahead for (at least some aspects) of their business. For instance:
- Without planning, retailers wouldn’t have any product on the shelves when the seasons change or the holidays arrive.
- Certain manufacturers need to have various raw materials on hand to be able to fulfill orders.
- If you’re looking for a loan, most banks are going to require forecasts (i.e., budgets).
- Larger businesses have determined it helps them run their businesses more effectively and profitably. (Can you imagine being a stockholder of a company and finding out that the company doesn’t even have an annual plan or budget? Ack!)
Business Planning, Budgeting & Tracking – “Do We Gotta?”
But what if there aren’t any stockholders or bankers requiring the company to follow “best business practices”? What if there aren’t any other compelling “do-or-die” factors?
Unfortunately, far too many owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses decide to just skip their annual business planning and budgeting. Or they believe that can get by without a good job-cost and variance tracking system. Maybe they’ve considered these tools, but thought “there’s no time available,” “it takes too long/costs too much to put together,” “too many things are unpredictable,” or “we’ve never done it before – and we’re surviving, aren’t we?”
There’s a good chance that the “failure to plan and monitor” consequences could be drastic.
Playing the Odds on Your Business…
So, if you happen to be one of those business owners or managers, let’s momentarily think of your business as if it was a sports team: if you put on the coaching hat for your own team, how might YOU use your “15-month-year”?
- Would you use three months before the season starts to plan, research, coordinate and train? (The idea: to influence what’s going to happen.)
- Or would you wait, show up at the beginning of the season, decide how to play the games after you’ve arrived, then spend three ‘after-the-fact’ months figuring out “what happened?”
If you were a betting person, which team would you choose?
You’re the coach. You get to decide how to use your 15 months – each and every year!
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