The fourth quarter is upon us! Each year around this time I get excited because the work we’ve done all year begins to reveal the result it is going to produce. We can see the year-end coming and we can begin to see how this year of effort is going to turn out. Will we reach our goals?

Its also the time of year that I begin to think seriously about what adjustments to long range planning need to be made and what the goals for the business should be for the coming year. It’s not budget time yet – that comes later – but it’s the time to really begin thinking in concrete and serious ways about goal setting.

Everyone, and every business, is different. Your timing may be different than mine. But you do set aside time to think about the business and plan for the coming year don’t you? Or do you just let it happen?

This is a great time to be honest with ourselves about this! Let me suggest that if you don’t do annual thinking that you consider it. It’s not hard, doesn’t have to take a long time but is really important in sustaining growth.

Here are some of the things I think about:

  1. What can we accomplish? What is a revenue goal that is achievable within our current capabilities? As I think about this I ponder the knowns about what the market is doing. Are rates up or down? Has the weather this year been good or bad and what can we expect from Profit Sharing and PMSF (you do get PMSF don’t you?). What kind of activity and results are our current marketing efforts producing?
  2. What is going to happen to overhead next year? Do we have rent increases, automation increases or other overhead cost increases coming? What about employee benefits and payroll? Do we need additional employees to manage the expected normal growth? Do we have a place for them to work? Equipment to use? When do we need them?
  3. Now comes the fun part! What could we do if we really stretched ourselves? If we are to do that what else must we do? Do we need to increase marketing investment? Hire additional people? Modify compensation strategies? Open another office or expand this one? Add a CRM program? These and endless other things can and should be considered.

We can’t develop a plan for our business until we spend time thinking about it. Perhaps you do this ad hoc from time to time but now is the time to organize your thinking and your thoughts and start putting things in written form – even a few paragraphs. It’s time to think!

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