Mayan Calendars, Fiscal Cliffs, and Your Business

I just checked on Yahoo News® and I’m happy to report that the “Mayan Apocalypse” did not occur at 9:11 PST today, contrary to the Mayans’ prediction a few thousand years ago. Considering this cataclysmic possibility, I must admit that I considered moving to Cincinnati since Mark Twain said “If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati.  Everything comes there ten years later.”  Thankfully, I stayed put here in Petaluma.

Now I’m reading that the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” had very little effect on consumer sentiment in November 2012 as consumer spending jumped higher than it has in three years.  Although Boehner and his “Plan B” didn’t even make it past the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the fallout has been minimal, and the Grinch was unable to steal Christmas. While we are visiting Mark Twain, “Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.”  The American public seems to sense that, even with Congress’ intellectual challenges, a deal will be struck and life will go on.

Since the world did not come to an end and the Fiscal Cliff appears to have a fluffy soft landing in store,  it would stand to reason that your business will also live on, and therefore deserves appropriate thought and planning for 2013.  But you have been putting that off. Perhaps that is because you overly focused on these world-ending events, or maybe because you make too much of business planning.  Or you do go through the annual exercise, only to put the document in a dusty drawer, never again to be considered until the following December when it’s time to repeat the worthless exercise.

So here are a couple of suggestions.

  • Create a sales plan that is ambitious, yet achievable
  • Incorporate the sales plan into an Excel based financial forecast that predicts operating results and cash flows
  • Insert the resulting forecast into the “Budget” module (don’t you hate that word budget? – I prefer “profit plan”) in your QuickBooks or whatever software you are using.
  • Run a “Budget to Actual” report to see how you are doing after the conclusion of each month in 2013 and see if it helps you make better and more timely decisions.

Certainly the prolonged recession has been exhausting and most businesses have suffered.  But recovery is in full-swing as the California Unemployment Rate fell to 9.8% this month, its lowest in nearly four years.  But without proper business planning, your business may continue to underperform.  Try being one of the 5% of SMB’s that engage in meaningful business planning in 2013 and enjoy the benefits. It was also Mark Twain that said “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

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