Business planning is best done this time of year. If you can set time aside to do this of course. In the back of your mind, and increasingly in the forefront, as 2018 moves along, 2019 should be making rustling sounds and creeping into your planning as you make firm decisions for the current period.

The better you are prepared for the next year by getting the business in shape this year, the more able the business will be to take advantage of opportunities and push forward in the future. There will also be times in the current year that business will plateau. When you have a slight lull, this can be when you can think about how to avoid them in the next year. Finding plateaus is no bad thing either. They are the culmination of reaching goals and hitting targets – hopefully.

…find ways to marginally increase all the revenue streams and introducing new revenue streams. These may be small streams but many small streams make a river.

So what kind of things can you look at to start planning ahead to points in the future when you are not entirely sure where you will be?

  • Incremental improvements. An ambitious business of any size wants to see sales and margins increase over time. However small those lifts are. One thing to be looking at in time for the next year is to find ways to marginally increase all the revenue streams and introducing new revenue streams. These may be small streams but many small streams make a river.
  • Location and working space. It is easy to keep on with the present situation, especially if it suits your capacity as it is now and things are running along quite nicely. You may be thinking this is good for the next five years and if so, this is a great thing to know and be content with. If you plan to grow the business and your current situation can handle that growth, this is great, but what if it cannot? It is one of those big life decisions like moving house. At some point, you have to acknowledge it and make preparations.
  • New directions. Looking into larger new revenue streams, such as corporate photography or creating masterclass events, needs planning way in advance. This will make you aware of how the existing situation needs to change in order to accommodate those ideas. It will also properly prepare you. Give you a greater understanding of whether it is actually achievable or not. It is no bad thing to scout an idea out, almost to the point of making it real. You can pull it back if the reality is not going to work. It is important to explore and find out regardless. It will open up other avenues you may not have considered.
  • Prepare to fail. Sounds ominous but contingency plans for unforeseen events such as a wider market slowdown or the sudden appearance of a well-resourced competitor chain are worth having in place. Having plans B, C and D will settle the nerves.

Business planning may seem like a drag. Approach this positively, and it’ll help shape next year into what you want it to be – more profitable and enjoyable.

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