The end of each year brings with it some time-honored traditions. Fireside chats, holiday gatherings, eggnog (my fav), and the “Holly Channel” (in October?). But before the holiday season enters the halls of any organization, there is another season that must come about first…Budget Season (a.k.a. B.S.). That’s right, the most wonderful time of the year. When the CFO’s head is on fire for a full month (or two), and every executive is tasked with putting together a plan that develops or delivers the next year’s bottom-line goal.
Words like “activity-based, zero-based, or incremental” bring memories of extra insanity as I recall my time spent in both a do-er and a decide-er role during BS within my previous organizations. Many a Q4 was spent in both research and data-entry mode, trying to weigh priorities and decisions for our team, manage employee expectations for raises and bonuses (comp season!), and of course making numbers match in the fancy MS Access-based system, only to have it kicked back later with a new number we had to get to in order for the full organization’s budget to get approved.
So what happens during BS when you run a small business? When you are the do-er and the decide-er? When you don’t have goals or plans or numbers “handed down to you from above?” Perhaps you’ve got a revenue number in mind, or a % of growth to your bottom line or client-base that you really want to hit in order to be successful. How much time have you spent thinking about it? How formalized is your BS process? Or is that what it seems like…a bunch of BS?
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
As coaches, our lines of questioning always return to goal setting. When facilitating strategic planning, we start with the end and work backwards:
- What does success look like next December?
- What has to happen before that? And before that…
- What has to stop happening?
- Who takes responsibility for what?
- What is needed to be successful (staff, training, supplies, technology, $)?
- How will you know (checkpoints and metrics)?
“Failing to plan is planning to fail”
Business owners, please tune-in. Yes, this is tedious. Yes, you have to prioritize time to do it. Yes, it takes away from the time you have to actually do your job. However, in order for your team and your organization to be moving in the same direction, everyone needs to know how to define success. People thrive when they understand the direction and the destination. They rise to the occasion when they can predict what they are accountable for at each stage. As a leader (or THE leader) in your organization, that role is yours. Take the time to define goals and create a plan for (and with) your team. Ask the tough questions. Get on the same page. Write it down. Revisit it throughout the year. Next year’s success is the reason for the season! With a solid plan in place, you can then truly enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!