I’m generally not a great fan of New Year’s resolutions. I prefer to make a decision now and put it into action now (see General Patton’s quote from this blog a few months ago).

Deciding to change something in your life from a fixed date in the future rather than today suggests a less than total commitment. If that commitment isn’t there then you will fail.

My brother in law takes this half-hearted, not really in it approach to a whole new level. “I plan to give up smoking on 17th June” he will announce, sometime in early April. He will explain that this will give him time to a) attend all diarised social events and b) use up his existing stock of fags, thus minimising waste.

An unconventional approach, you will agree, and one that has yet to have delivered the desired effect, despite its regular appearance over the 15 years I have known him.

As a business owner, though, there is certain logic in using a future date as a starting point for something new, not least because there is often a degree of practical preparation involved.

Take planning and budgeting for example. If you haven’t already, why not use January 1st as your starting point for a simple business plan and budget for the year ahead?

Spend an hour or two (yes, it really doesn’t take that long) away from the everyday stuff. Have a stroll and think about where you’d like the business to be this time next year. What do you want these numbers to look like:

  • Bank balance
  • Sales
  • Costs
  • Profit
  • What you take out for yourself

Write them down. Divide them up into nice monthly amounts and hey presto – there’s your budget. OK, you might want some help to fill in the gaps and ensure it makes sense, but it really isn’t a difficult task.

Now think about what you’ll need to do to hit that budget. Hint: it depends on where you are as a business, but this will often focus on increasing sales and gross profit.

Write those ideas down and knock up an action plan based thereon. It doesn’t need to be a 50-page thesis. A single sheet of paper will do. “Call the top 20% of customers in January to arrange a meeting”; “Draft the sales manager job description by 15th January” – that sort of thing.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll keep on saying it – do not underestimate the power of having written goals/budgets/action plans. If you don’t write this stuff down somewhere, it will be in your head then disappear as soon as the working day starts.

You will be amazed how the simple act of recording an action point, with a completion date, forces you to focus on it and make it happen.

Make 2018 the year when you really start to take control of what’s going on in your business – think, plan, take action. It works.

Chris Martin

Chris Martin is a chartered accountant and business advisor and has been helping franchisees create and grow wonderful businesses for over 20 years. He is a published author and has written extensively on franchisee tax issues. He passionately believes that whilst franchising is a deservedly successful business format, franchisees are often let down by their franchisors’ failure to offer support and guidance regarding the financial side of running the business. This leaves franchisees frustrated, overwhelmed and unable to grow their businesses to the extent they should. Chris has developed simple systems, support and guidance to ensure franchisees create businesses that provide them and their families the lives they so richly deserve.

Chris Martin is a chartered accountant and business advisor and has been helping franchisees create and grow wonderful businesses for over 20 years. He is a published author and has written extensively on franchisee tax issues. He passionately believes that whilst franchising is a deservedly successful business format, franchisees are often let down by their franchisors’ failure to offer support and guidance regarding the financial side of running the business. This leaves franchisees frustrated, overwhelmed and unable to grow their businesses to the extent they should. Chris has developed simple systems, support and guidance to ensure franchisees create businesses that provide them and their families the lives they so richly deserve.