As 2016 draws to a close, this is the time to review the last 12 months and learn from the mistakes - and embrace the successes! - of our business.
But it's easily overlooked, particularly during what is often the busiest time of year for a lot of companies, so how can you ensure that you are planned up for a new year, and ready to move up a gear on January 1st?
First things first, if you're planning anything on a financial level that involves investments or borrowing, then you should talk it through with a specialist - an accountant, financial adviser or perhaps your bookkeeper. If you're unsure when it comes to the financial side of your business (and you wouldn't be alone) then book an appointment with your accountant and talk all your plans through with them.
On the planning side, the things you're going to look at in the main are financial (how your cashflow has held up, whether you need to tweak anything, and where you might want to start increasing sales - and therefore costs) and sales (including marketing, sorry marketers, product assessment, customer requirements and numbers - which is, of course, where the two fit together). My experience is that everything else then falls into place alongside these two - operational matters, marketing, practicalities etc.
If you have already been planning then you will have completed a new business plan. If you haven't, then you should. I know I go on about them a lot - and I'm far from being a fan of writing them - but they are important and give you a structure and set of goals to work to. I have a great business plan pro forma that I use, if you'd like it please do get in touch.
If you haven't planned at all this year, and don't think you'll get chance before the new year, then don't panic. The first thing to say is that there's always next year, so make sure that you diarise some time in for the summer (if that's a quiet time) and plan ahead for 2018. That way you won't be in this situation again. For now, leave it until the beginning of the new year, and then do your planning. Being a few weeks behind is preferable to being burnt out and working all hours on your day to day business, as well as your planning (which always needs some quiet time to reflect and strategise).
Whatever you do, and however you do it, it just remains for me to wish you a very happy new year with much success and happiness!