A New Year and a Time to Plan - Article by Alison Lemon, Director, PKF Poutsma Lemon Limited
The 19th February 2015 is the beginning the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese calendar this is the year of the sheep or goat, whichever you prefer.
Sheep or goats are said to prefer peace. They are most comfortable at home, artistic but resistant to change.
Sounds too simple to be true!
However for business, change is probably the only real constant. Change can sometimes be uncomfortable or painful, depending on how ready a business is for it.
To be honest there are not many businesses or people that embrace change. Especially if it is just for the opportunity to learn something new. But for businesses that plan and plan for change, generally they are the most resilient. Change may feel uncomfortable, but with a plan generally the pain is a lot less and the opportunities far greater.
Planning for a business starts with a business plan. There are plenty of tools and templates to assist writing a business plan.
Business professionals, like myself, are also very happy to assist and give some guidance along the way.
The real benefit of a business plan, like any plan, is that it makes the people in the business sit down and focus on what they are trying to achieve, their intended destination, what tools are required, what obstacles they need to overcome and what milestones need to happen along the way.
As we draw near to the close of one financial year and the beginning of a new one both Chinese and financial now is a great time for businesses to start planning.
Planning takes time. Its time out from the day to day business activity, without interruption to think about the business.
That's why many large businesses organise retreats and planning days for their owners and senior management.
Planning may also involve some assistance from people outside of the business that understand the business and the people and importantly what needs to be achieved.
In my experience business plans are successful if they are relevant, simple, practical and are kept "alive". Business plans do not stay alive and healthy if they are thrown in the bottom draw of a desk never to see the light of day.
To keep a business plan "alive" each of the business strategies need to have milestones and each milestone needs a "who", a "what" and a "when". This also means milestones need to be accounted for generally to someone rather than something.
Again experience has shown me that setting milestones and accounting to someone rather than something ensures far greater success.
In fact this is not terribly different to when we were at school and had to hand in our homework to the teacher.
The BOI College roadside notice board draws my attention to the school motto
"Attendance + Effort = Achievement" by changing the words but still keeping the underlying meaning "Planning + Activity = Success".
And don't forget your annual financial forecast. It is not a document of what work we know the business has, it's a financial plan to reflect what we know the business can and needs to achieve. It puts a value on your plan to achieve. It's easy to account for with products like Xero tracking forecast to actual and visible to both the business owner and their advisor.
Unlike a sheep that will follow the rest of the flock, businesses need to make a plan for the new year.