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Setting Up A Business Plan

Setting Up A Business Plan

During the christmas period take time to take stock and devise a plan for a profitable new year, Chris Day says

One of my most vivid memories from childhood is being taken to the Christmas grotto in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London. I must have been five.

I remember queuing and being greeted at the door by a big jolly man dressed in green who called himself Uncle Holly. He beckoned me inside to a magical world of twinkling lights, fake snow, industrious elves and finally, in a red draped room, to see the big man himself seated on a huge throne.

### My Heart Sank ###

And then the question came that I had been dreading: “Have you been good?” My heart sank. I could see the pile of presents beside Santa. What I said next would determine whether he handed one to me or not. If I said “No”, would Uncle Holly scoop me up and drop me down a chute to join a snivelling pile of all the other naughty boys?

My parents waited behind me. They knew the truth. I had spent the entire year being a total pain. The universe paused and waited for my answer. I looked Santa straight in the eye, crossed my fingers behind my back and lied. Yes, I’d been good, albeit for only about an hour. I hoped it was enough. It was. He handed me my present as I sighed in relief. I’d got away with it.

What if Santa was real and, whether we believed in him or not, we had to visit him at the end of each year to be asked searching questions about our businesses. Depending on our answers, we would either get to continue for another year or would be sent down a chute to join a heap of other puzzled business owners who were all wondering what went wrong as they emerged blinking into the sunlight. In the real world, being good isn’t enough, you need to be smart as well.

### On Track ###

How smart have you been this year? During the lead-up to Christmas and the new year, there is no better question to ask yourself. With the phones silent and only the feint sound of The Wizard of Oz in the background, take a moment to take stock of where you are with your business. Are you on track to achieve the plans you set last year? Are you where you need to be or have there been a few hiccups on your journey?

Sometimes the most valuable thing we can do is make mistakes, because that is when we learn the most. The dumb thing is to make the same mistake twice. If you can take a few moments to think about what you learnt when things went wrong, it could be the most valuable time of the entire year.

We tend to think back and glory in the things that went well and congratulate ourselves on our successes. But successful people do the opposite. There will always be times when we make the wrong decision. How many hundreds of times did Edison discover the wrong way to create the light bulb? Each time it didn’t work, he learned something.

What are you going to do differently during 2015? As we all know, it’s madness to keep on doing more of the same thing and expect to get different results. There is no better time to plan for an amazing new year than right now.

### Wishing Isn’t Enough ###

Incredibly, most people shy away from preparing a written plan, preferring to go with the flow. But if it’s not written down, it’s just a wish and wishing isn’t enough if you are serious about change.

If you have a hole to fill in or a mountain to climb, now is the time to make that plan. No matter how big the task, it can be achieved by moving one step at a time, providing it is in the right direction. In the same way that a sculptor chips everything off a block of stone that doesn’t look like the statue he is carving, now is the time to throw away all those bad habits and decisions that don’t look like the successful business you are visualising for 2015.

Whatever you want your business to look like in 12 months time or whatever targets you have set, start from the end and work backwards. Break every big goal down into bite-sized chunks. You need to know what figure you need to hit at the end of January and every subsequent month to know you are on track. Then at least when Santa asks next year, you’ll be able to say you’ve been a good boy - and a smart one as well.

* Chris Day has spent a lifetime as a communicator. Originally an actor and theatre director, he has appeared on television, in films, on radio and on stage. He is currently the CEO of Filament Publishing, a boutique publishing house specialising in training, self help and personal development titles. He is the author of the book Turning your Knowledge into Income.

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