Its a struggle for many business owners to find the time to work on their businesses rather than in it. If you’ve got limited time and want to get maximum impact, follow our top three weekend business planning tips below. Ideally, the process should take no more than an hour and should give you a solid base to set some goals and make some quick decisions about actions you can take in the next 30 days.
Tip 1: Look Back for Trends
Look at your previous financial information. Go back through your previous annual financial statements and your year to date data. Look at key items like revenue, gross profit and expenses.
The more data the better. Two to three years data will give you a simple trend, five years will give you much greater insight. If you’ve only been in business for a year, use last years budget versus actual.
Plot the year to year changes in percentage terms. If you use Xero, you can add in a formula to your Profit & Loss report to automatically calculate these key figures for you.
How have things changed over time? This is your trend. Use the formula above to make sure gross profit percentage is either holding steady or is increasing.
Is any change in revenue matched with changes in direct costs or overheads? Variable costs like purchases of stock should fluctuate as sales do.
Ideally, small percentage growth in gross profit should translate to larger gains in net profit (your bottom line). This is because your overhead expenses should be pretty static while your direct costs vary with sales levels. If this isn’t the case, look for outliers.
Is there an expense that’s throwing things out of whack? If one item seems to be a little out of control, it needs to be looked into as soon as possible.
Tip 2: Look Forward for Targets
Once you’ve established trends, use them to set targets.
There is nothing wrong with using a quick and dirty uplift to carry forward financial targets for the next month or so. This works well for the short term but for long term success, you really need to set aside the time to invest in your business with some well considered goals and targets.
Take your average annual growth that you’ve highlighted above when assessing percentage gains and trends. Carry this forward from the most recent period to the next for your revenue, direct costs and any other variable expenses. Keep your standard fixed overheads static or adjust by a small percentage to allow for inflation in phone, power and rent charges.
Break this uplifted budget down into monthly chunks. This will give you a month to month target for your financial performance. This then allows you to analyse how many products or services you need to sell to achieve those targets.
Tip 3: Set Actions for Quick Wins in 30 Days or Less
Once you know your trends over time and have used them to set targets, make a list of the things you need to do in the next month to make it happen.
Follow-through is where most business owners fall short. The effort put into your planning is wasted if you don’t set actions to take to work towards your goals and deadlines for executing those actions.
To avoid failing your plan, set some actions to take right now that will be easy to execute and have a big impact. These are the things you can do right now and will have an effect in 30 days or less. Its important to knock out these quick wins now so that you can focus on long term projects the next time you do a business planning session. Quick wins will also help to stop you from feeling like things are happening too slowly. Growth and development is
Some Simple Places to Look for Easy Actions and Quick Wins
Where can you streamline expenses and overheads to avoid eroding your profit gains while maintaining quality of product or service? Look for ways to save on phone, power and other overheads.Is there anything that looks out of control or not in keeping with the trends you assessed earlier? These expenses need to be managed quickly.
Can you get a discount by paying annually rather than monthly? Most subscription based things are a lot cheaper if you avoid financing them over the year and pay annually instead. This can have an impact on cashflow so you don’t need to do it all at once. Look for when things come up for renewal and start saving excess cash to pay them annually at the next renewal. This can have massive savings for things like software subscriptions, ACC and insurance premiums.
What marketing, events or networking opportunities are coming up that you could use to drive engagement and sales? Book yourself into some of these some of these.
Whatever actions you take, make sure they are in support of your short and long term business and lifestyle goals. Most importantly though, make sure you actually follow-through.
Invest in Some Professional Help
Outside support and guidance can be invaluable.
At MBP, our Business Advisors advocate our ‘three F’s’: Forethought, Forecast, Follow-through. We run business planning workshops to help with your forethought. Our MBP Business Advisors also run cashflow forecasting and management sessions to help with forecasts. They also offer monthly or quarterly coaching sessions to help keep you on track and follow-through with your plan throughout the year.
If you need more active and regular one-on-one support, an accountability coach might be exactly what you need. We strongly recommend AJ Pipe as an independent accountability coach. AJ will “lovingly kick you up the bum” and offer you invaluable support to put your plans into action and will hold you accountable for those actions throughout the year.
If you’d like to discuss your options for planning, coaching and support, get in touch with the team at MBP today. We’d be happy to run through the results of you following our weekend business planning tips in a free Proactive Accounting Meeting.