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So … where did this year go? Now that the fourth quarter has begun and a new year – andthinking_2 business plan – are imminent, where do you stand in meeting your 2013 objectives?

 As you break the year into quarters, or “90 day runs,” the end of the third one is particularly significant. It’s time to take stock by asking yourself which goals you’ve achieved, which milestones you’ve failed to reach, and most importantly, what you can do better going forward.

Questions to Address
There’s a well-known business formula based on these four steps: Plan. Do. Review. Adjust. Now is the time to zero in on the third element in that equation and review, for a status update on your most recent results, in relationship to those defined in your annual business plan.

Start by asking yourself and your leadership team the following questions:

  • Are you satisfactorily completing your year-to-date goals?
  • Do your performance numbers accurately reflect your success?
  • Are you crushing some goals, but falling short on others? Why?
  • Which goals do you still need to meet before the year ends?

Once you have these answers, your next step is to prioritize those goals remaining for this year’s fourth quarter. Go back to your main business strategy for the year and identify which goals will help you contribute to the overall success of your 2013 plan.

How Do We Catch Up at This Point?
Sure, the clock is ticking, but it’s not too late to translate your evaluation process into results that can be actualized before the calendar turns to 2014. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Bring in trusted advisors. Start with your senior management team, for a review of progress to date and a brainstorming session on steps to take between now and December 31. Then, for a total team support effort, call in your CPA, attorney, banker and other outside experts as needed. You may even consider a half or full-day off-site retreat to focus efforts solely on business planning.
  • Put your new plan in writing. This will help the entire team to stay focused.
  • Revise systems as needed, or develop new ones. This way, you get everyone involved in doing things the same way, to produce consistent results.
  • Implode. That’s right. Take whatever hasn’t worked so far this year, and make changes for the better, based on the input garnered from all your subject matter experts. Take the team back on site, get the word out, and get it done. Remember to keep it positive and enthusiastic; for instance, offer rewards for tasks well done and a celebration at the end of the year for everyone who played a role in your business success.

Pat yourself – and your team – on the back for everything you’ve accomplished in the first nine months of 2013. Then prepare for the final lap – and run! At the finish line, you’ll be well prepared for the next race: 2014.

For more information, read our management posts or contact us today for more tips on improving your business practices as you plan for success in Q4 of 2013 and beyond.

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