Fall is an interesting time of the year. We’ve got one eye on finishing the current year strong, and the other on planning for the next year. When it comes to planning for next year, there is good reason to start early, but the reality is that most of us will want to procrastinate planning more than we have in years past.
This is totally understandable, because while the marketplace has settled down a bit, the state of the economy has caused us to say, “I have no idea what is going to happen next year.” But that doesn’t mean that we should not plan. In fact, it means that a plan for 2010 is even more important than it has been over the past few years.
Without a well-thought-out plan, we will not be in a position to react if business picks up or slows down considerably. So, how do you plan in time of uncertainty? Here are a few of the things that we are doing at NY Report, as well as what other business owners have told me they are trying:
Create projections for the worst-case, expected, and best-case scenarios. In the past, I just created one set of projections; however, this year I will create three, because the degree of uncertainty is much higher. The projections include plans for cutting back on certain expenses if we get into the worst case, and increasing investment in the best case.
Plan to utilize freelancers for new projects. You pay a premium for freelancers, but if things aren’t going well, freelancers are easier to cut than employees.
Examine cash flow (not just profits) when considering new products and services. Two reasons for this: 1) customers are paying slower, and 2) access to credit might not be there when you need it.
Remember that in every market there is opportunity. So this year, I am paying even more attention to how my industry is changing and how we need to evolve in order to capitalize on these changes.
If, after reading this, you are still thinking “Everything is really up in the air and planning is just a crapshoot,” you might have a point. But by giving careful consideration to these ideas, you will increase your odds of success significantly. We cannot let uncertainty prevent us from taking advantage of opportunities, nor can we be oblivious to threats.
Robert Levin is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The New York Enterprise Report. Levin has extensive experience with midsize and small businesses, having previously held CEO, CFO, and COO positions with companies in several industries. He is also a contributor for The Huffington Post. Levin can be reached at email@example.com and (212) 307-6760.