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Let’s get real for 2011

I’m in the midst of planning for 2011 and I know many of you will also be updating your business plans for the new year.  So I thought I’d share a few insights that may help – in the form of a bit of a do’s and don’ts list.  This isn’t a ‘how to’ list, it’s some key points that I wanted to highlight to get you thinking.


  • Seek advice from your accountant or business adviser.
  • Review your books and internal processes over the past 6 to 12 months (you might like to have your accountant assist here).
  • Consider the following to assist you with planning for the next 6 to 12 months…
– Ensure you find the right a balance of employee numbers for short and medium term expectations.
– Have the needs of your market changed?
– Will your business plan include future growth plans?  If so, ensure you have enough capital to finance this growth.
– Do you need to better manage relationships with customers and suppliers to maintain a steady cash flow?
– Evaluate your supplier relationships up and down the supply chain and identify areas where you could enhance relationships.  Review the buying and selling terms that you have in place with your suppliers and customers, and establish if they need to be renegotiated.
  • Review and revise your marketing plan.  Evaluate your objectives and make sure you’re still focusing on the right markets, update key market research and drivers, ensure your marketing activities are supporting your business goals and you have sales and promotional strategies in place to best suit your targets in the coming year.
    Consider if your category will expand, maintain or contract in the short-medium term.
  • Gather information from industry bodies, consumer groups, ABS, business.gov.au and research groups (even statistics and trends from the MYOB Business Monitor). There’s loads of information available so avoid drowning in information and carefully consider which information is most relevant to your industry.
  • Compile information about your target market (e.g. demographics, disposable income, spending habits, etc).  Along with the industry data you have sourced, this information will help you really understand your customers and prospects.  The better you understand your target market, the more effective your business plan and the more targeted your marketing can be.
  • Be realistic about your goals and expectations – about what you want to achieve and what you can actually achieve.


  • Not plan ahead!
  • Make assumptions about your industry or your clients and their needs.
  • Ignore any cash flow needs, it’s important to have a cashflow forecast in place & proactive plans to manage any gaps.
  • Be afraid to get help if you need it (eg: from your accountant).
  • Ignore any weaknesses you need to address.
  • Forget to (or be afraid to!) ask your customers for their feedback.  You’ll find it useful to not only seek insights from your best customers, but to drill down into why someone chose another supplier over you.
  • Forget to update your team on your goals and plan.

Remember – business planning doesn’t have to be scary. It can actually be a motivating experience.

Good luck!

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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