Winter is a time of reflection, both personally and for our businesses. How did this past year go? Did I meet my goals? Um, did I have goals? What do I want next year to look like? What do I have to do to get there?
At Creating Answers, it is the time of year we are busy working with all of our clients on 2011 goals and budgets. It is one of my favorite times of the year because you get to do two really fun things: analyze how last year went, and draw the financial road map to follow next year. It’s financial art at its most fun.
If you think of this work as a chore, I invite you to reframe your beliefs about planning and numbers. I invite you to think of it as a game, or a puzzle. Make it a date with yourself. Go to your favorite coffee house, or pour yourself a bottle of fine wine. And then…start asking yourself questions.
What percentage of your total income goal did you reach this year? 120%? Great! 85%? Not so great. What do you need to do differently in 2011? What amount of marketing dollars would have closed that 15% gap? Do you need to increase your networking time? Upsell existing clients? Raise your prices?
“If you think of this work as a chore, I invite you to reframe your beliefs about planning and numbers.”
Take a look at your discretionary areas of spending? How much did you spend on marketing and advertising? What were the financial results? Professional development? Results? Equipment? Results?
How much did you spend on staffing and/or outside consultants? Did they work at capacity? Did you generate revenue from your staff? How much? A great rule of thumb to start with is three times their cost.
While it is difficult to assign numbers to each of those questions, the exercise of trying will create answers. What if you spent nothing in each of those areas? What if you spent three times as much?
Most importantly, don’t overdo the process. It’s more effective to do a really thorough look at your 15 most critical spending areas consistently than it is to look at all 60 of the expense accounts you have in Quickbooks. (And if you have 60 expense accounts in Quickbooks, you should give us a call!)
Find out more about what we do at http://CreatingAnswers.com.
Here’s to a prosperous new year full of financial clarity!