The end of the financial year can feel like a blur of papers, numbers and money, but it’s worth taking the time to reflect on your end of financial year results and put together a business plan for the new year.
If you already have a business plan then that’s a big step in the right direction. If you don’t, then now is a great time to put one in place. The benefits of having a plan are significant, particularly in giving you a clear vision of where you are heading and how you are going to get there. Even if you are already working to an established business plan now is a good time to review and revise this plan for the new financial year.
Take time to reflect on EOFY
It’s important to review and reflect on your end of financial year results. Even if you’re happy with your results, still use the opportunity to sit down and see what worked for you, what hasn’t and what you would like to improve on over the next 12 months. Reflection gives you a chance to work out why you achieved the results you did, rather than just accepting what has occurred and not giving it another thought.
If you aren’t too happy with your results this year, then there’s even more reason to reflect on what didn’t work. By carefully analysing your results you can isolate each area and work out what needs improving. Reflecting on your business is a powerful self-evaluation tool and will give you the knowledge to improve the way you work.
If you set goals for the past financial year then ask yourself whether you achieved them. If you did, then you probably have good systems in place and should set yourself bigger, brighter goals for the next 12 months. If you had goals in place, but they haven’t been achieved, work out what went wrong. By reviewing you can find out where you lost direction. If you didn’t set goals last year, then you will benefit from creating a business plan that sets out your goals and a clear path to reach them.
Don’t forget to reflect back on your marketing objectives and activities too. What worked, what didn’t and what do you need to change for the next year?
Create a plan
Based on the insights you now have on the past financial year, incorporate the areas for improvement or issues indentified into your new or updated business plan. Don’t reflect and forget.
When you create a business plan, it can feel a little daunting, however you are the biggest expert in your business and best placed to determine what you and your team are capable of achieving. As a business owner you have the opportunity to choose your own path and create a unique business plan that helps guide you.
Beware of thinking ‘in the bubble’. Always make sure you do your research when developing a plan, check out your competitors, target market and industry to get an idea of how you could be performing.
There are a number of areas that you should focus on when creating, or reviewing, a business plan. The first area is cashflow. Cash flow is an integral part of your business and it’s at this time of year that you can get a true snapshot of past performance to assist with cash flow planning.
How did you perform over the last 12 months? Was your cashflow management effective or do you need to make improvements? How could you better manage relationships with customers and suppliers to maintain consistent cashflow? Having a good relationship with your suppliers is also vital, as it means you will know about any special deals coming up and feel confident asking how you can get better value for your money.
During the recent downturn, you may have cut down your staff to the bare minimum. Now is the time when business owners are looking to start growing again. For the new financial year work out how your employees performed and the return you are getting on what can be your biggest investment. You’ll need a balance between optimal employee numbers in the short to medium term and future expectations. If you’re looking at hiring more employees then you need to work out how you are going to get to the point where it’s viable to do so. If you’re looking at growing your business then make sure you have a good understanding of your finances. Is there enough capital to finance the possible growth? If not, how are you going to get to this point?
A business plan doesn’t just have to be about the money side of your business. Take a look at how your relationships track with customers and suppliers. What’s your customer satisfaction level? If you don’t currently track your customer satisfaction level it could be a great goal for the next financial year.
Once you have a business plan in place, share your goals with your team. There’s no point coming up with a list of goals you hope to achieve if no one else has an idea of the direction you want to head in. If you focus your team’s energy on what you want to achieve and make sure they understand how to get there, and what role they’ll play, you’ll be far more likely to succeed. You may even choose to involve your team in business plan development if you think it will be beneficial.
Good luck with your reflecting and planning – while it might take a bit of extra effort now, I can assure you it will be worth it in the long run.