Labour Day has become symbolic as the unofficial ‘end of summer’ and this week it’s #backtoschool for most children in North America and Europe. The air is filled with excited and busy children that start new classes, meet new teachers, and make new friends. It is also Back to Business for us:
We can – and really should – take some of this energy filled atmosphere
and use it to our advantage in our businesses.
Some of us might have had more of a leisurely summer, we prefered to enjoy the nice weather outside rather than sitting at our desk working. Those of us who could do that were the lucky ones.
For others it might have been an extra busy time, because the children were home and wanted to be entertained, or family came to visit or you yourself went on vacation.
What ever it was, now in September it’s time to get Back to Business. A good idea is to reflect on the past 8 months and review how we did compared to our plans. As a second step we then can look out at what is ahead of us for the last four months of this year. Of course it’s also a good time to start thinking what the next year might bring. So let’s get started.
Looking back: Noticing and Listening
Making a plan and then review it on a regular basis keeps you on track and accountable to yourself. But even if you have no written plan, you probably know what you want to achieve this year.
Take a few minutes and reflect on the past 8 months and what has happened in your business:
- What are your accomplishments of the last 8 months?
- What lessons did you learn during the last 8 months?
- Which plans worked out and which didn’t ?
- What needs to be improved?
Now I would not be Conny if I would not also ask you the following:
- Where are you standing with your papers and files? Are you all organized and happy where you stand or did you start with plan and determination but the busy spring and the hectic summer months threw a monkey wrench? Just notice for now where you stand.
- If you do have a budget for your business now is a good time to review how you are doing. Was your budget realistic or does it turn out to be unrealistic, or did the circumstances maybe change? What do you learn when you compare your budget with your actual numbers? What story are your numbers telling, or what pictures are they painting?
Looking forward: Planning and Creating
Now take another few minutes and get clear on what your plans and goals are for the rest of the year. Even if the year so far didn’t turn out how you had wished or hoped for, it’s still time to make (some of) it happen:
- What is it that you still would like to see happening in your business?
- What are the steps you need to take that will get you there?
- Who can you approach that can help you ?
If your paper and digital files are a mess, now is a good time to start organizing.
Yes now! Not when the year is almost over and your mind is on Christmas Shopping and Turkey dinners. Next year is also not a good time to deal with this years files as you will be busy working on next years projects and goals and before you know it it’s tax time.
There are two things in life we must do, one is breathing, the other one is paying taxes.
Just as now is the time to get your files in order, it’s also a good time to think about taxes. Did you put money aside each month for the tax bill to come? If not you still have time (plus/minus 7 months) to catch up and save up. If you don’t know how much you should put aside., because you don’t have a budget/forecast, then a good indicator is what you had paid in taxes for last year. Of course if you know your sales have increased, your tax bill is most likely going to be higher too.
I will be exploring these topics in more detail in future posts and I also have an interesting interview lined up that I am very excited about.
I agree that September is a time to really get things in order before the end of the year. You’ve made me think about this chaotic past couple of weeks and how I need to get myself back on track. Because I’ve been busy at the barn and teaching and trying to squeeze in writing, my household papers are in all sorts of disarray. I’m happy to announce though, that I’ve kept up with my accounting etc on the business end of things. My goal is to get the ship in order before we go on vacation in October- because once we get back we’ll have to hit the ground running into the holiday season!
Thanks for the post Conny! A great reminder to pick it up for the remainder of the year-still lots of time to accomplish big goals! Love the part about reflecting back over the past 8 months. It can be so easy to think about everything we didn’t get done rather than focusing on what we did do. When we give ourselves credit for the accomplishments we did have, we can build our confidence and momentum for the remainder of the year!
so true Val, when reflecting we always should give ourselves enough credit for what I actually did accomplish instead of only focussing on what I didn’t do and feel bad about it. Thanks for your feedback.
Great post. I’m not running a business (yet) but I found the ideas here very helpful, and you’ve given me some good tips for when I do start my own business. I am going to be answering all the questions you posted in Looking Back and Looking Forward. This year hasn’t gone as well as I’d like and I think now is a great time to review what worked, what didn’t, and where I want to go from here. Thanks Conny!
Thank you Roisin, I am glad my post was helpful.
Since reading your blog, I’ve been thinking about the different types of disorder that exist between my digital and paper files. Although both have things I will never use, the paper ones spilled into a second file cabinet and the biggest issue there is probably that there isn’t clear organization about which files are in which cabinet. The digital files are a lot easier to move! The biggest organization issue digitally is that it’s not as obvious how much space they are taking up, so I wind up keeping *everything.* It’s very helpful to have doable tasks to break down the paper mountain – thanks.
I am the same Wenda, I tend to save and keep too many digital files, with space getting cheaper and cheaper that’s so easy to do. I think as long as you have them organized and find what you are looking for it’s ok. On the paper file side I am a little more rigorous, I (try to) go through them on a regular basis to make sure I don’t keep unnecessary papers.
I agree that this time of year is fabulous for reflections and new beginnings. Great reminders here! The one that most strongly resonates for me is creating a budget for my business. I tend to use an approach of “only spend money if I absolutely must” rather than strategically allocating money for specific purposes.
you hit the nail on the head Maggie, a budget helps you strategically allocating money. It can always be revised during the year but it gets you to really think in what direction you want to go with your business rather than just passively wait and see what comes up.
Great reminders to get the “house in order” for the rest of the year, Conny! I love that you mentioned the tangible and practical items as well as the idealistic ones to get things more toward the way you’d like them to be. Also appreciated that you mentioned including reflection on the year so far. Well said!
thank you Jennifer