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12 Month Business Program

Just as some people need a 12 Step Program to get them on the right path and keep them there, your business needs a regular program to keep it running at peak efficiency.  Large corporations have a cadence to the year as they repeatedly review different parts of the company.  Some items are dealt with monthly, such as the profit and loss statement, cash flow and balance sheet.  Others are done on an annual basis with an off-site retreat for management and follow up meetings with employees.  A good approach used by large multi-national corporations that have been in business for decades is a schedule of activities to be done throughout the year.  This can can scaled to a smaller company, even one with $1 million in sales.  Each month, review one aspect of the business in your office by yourself, or with your staff in a meeting.  For a small company of 10 persons, it can be good to do this with everyone in the company, so that everyone understands first hand what your vision/mission/values are and how to apply them in the face of change in your business.  Here’s a first suggestion:

Month 1 Competition  Review the list of competitors and compile a one to 3 page summary of them.  What actions have they taken in the last year? What do you expect them to do this year?  If you were them, what would you do?

Month 2 Sales and Marketing Channels  Review the message for your marketing.  Establish a year long marketing action list.  Review sales successes and losses.  Establish a sales plan and training.  Review Accounts Receivable.

Month 3 Government and Market Constraints   File taxes for the prior year and submit quarterly payroll taxes.  Review government requirements and plans.  Review market constraints and memberships.

Month 4 People  Review performance and expectations.  Update position descriptions.  Discuss succession issues.  Review organization.  Plan training.

Month 5 Supply Chain and Outsourcing  Categorize suppliers as services, supplies, information and parts.  Review key relationships and contracts.  Discuss what is happening at suppliers.  Review Accounts Payable.

Month 6 Processes  Submit quarterly payroll taxes.  Review key process documents.  Establish plans for continuous improvement.

Month 7 Technology and Capital Planning  How is technology affecting your business directly?  How is technology impacting suppliers?  How is technology impacting customers?  Update 3 year investment plan for capital purchases.

Month 8 Products and Services  Review what is selling and what is not.  Review plans for new products/services.  Review product/service costs.

Month 9 Risks of Disruption  Submit quarterly payroll taxes.  What disrupted the business in the last year?  How did you respond?  How can you prevent it in the future?  What might happen this year?  How can you detect early?  How will you respond?

Month 10 Longer Term Strategy  Review your vision, mission and values.  What is your exit strategy?  Update 3-5 year strategy and goals.  What key actions are need to achieve the strategy?  What are your key performance indicators?

Month 11 Business Choice  Consider a team building exercise or a 2 day off-site meeting.

Month 12 Budgets and Goals  Submit quarterly payroll taxes.  Review current year results.  Decide final payroll, draws, 401K/Roth contributions.  Set budget for the next year.  Establish goals for the next year.

I meet every three months with my financial planner.  I’ve been surprised at how much can change in so little time.  Even my long range strategy can be impacted by a sudden illness, or an accident with the car or a storm at  home.  I’ve also been shocked in working with small companies through my volunteer activities with SCORE.  So many businesses don’t even calculate their profit/loss on a monthly basis.  Some have not filed their business taxes in over a year.  I’ve helped restaurants that don’t check what has sold each and every day, or keep a handle on inventory, especially of liquor.  Just watch some of the reality shows on the Food Network to see how much can go wrong in a restaurant when you don’t pay attention to business.

Spending 1/2 day a month collecting some of this information and reviewing it in a 1-2 hour meeting will give you a better handle on your business and help you grow it profitably for years to come.

Send me an e-mail at if you would like an electronic copy of my brochure:  Align 7 Forces to Accelerate Your Business or to view a 45 minute presentation based on it.  You might also be interested in having me help your company accomplish this 12-step program.  I look forward to hearing from you.