Did your business grow this year?  Why or why not?  If growth was not a goal this year, will it be a goal next year?

These are questions you should be asking yourself right now as we begin moving into the final quarter of the year.  The reason is because sustainable business growth doesn’t just happen by accident.  It’s planned and well managed.  In fact, here is evidence that business with a plan do better that those without.

If your business grew and you didn’t have a plan, then what will you do to continue this positive trend into next year?  If it happened by accident, then you need to understand what you did right so that you can do more of it next year.  Also, what additional resources will you need to continue your northward trek and do you need funding to get it done?  If you leave it to chance eventual you’ll fall off a cliff!

If you planned for growth and it didn’t happen, why didn’t your business grow?  Was there an unforeseen problem?  Have you corrected the situation so that you can grow next year?  What can you do in the 4th quarter this year to assure you’re ready to grow on January 1st?

Did you plan for growth and it actually happened!?  What can you do to continue your current trend, or is there a foreseen endpoint to this growth?  What can you do differently to continue your business growth?  Do you need more resources, funding, customer, capacity, or all the above?  How will you fund what you need to keep forging ahead?

If business growth not in your plans at all, why not?  Should you be growing your business and don’t even know it?  This last one is the killer!  If you choose not to grow your business, but it is not self-sustaining what happens if something happens to you?  If the business comes to a complete standstill what happens to your family, employees and their families, vendors, and customers?  This is the stuck in no man’s land scenario. Are you there!!?

In any of these situations you should begin your business planning for next year NOW!  Some people think it is too early, but there goods reasons why I always suggest beginning no later than September.

3 Reasons You Should Begin Business Planning

First, is that there are almost always things you need to do to get ready for next year.  Starting now gives you the entire 4th quarter to get them done.

Next is you need to “get your house in order” for this year if it isn’t already there.  This will help you see where you are and gives you one last chance to stretch and reach your goal for the year.  It’s easier to accomplish with 3 months than it is with 3 weeks at the end of the year.

Finally, with your financials in order, it is a good time to sit down with your tax accountant and determine if there is anything you need to do to minimize your tax impact.  Once the year is done there is little you can do to affect your tax liability.  The sooner you start the more options you have available.

If these aren’t good enough reasons then maybe the University of Oregon Department of Economics findings that businesses with a completed business plan are 50% more likely to grow their business and secure funding than business without.

DE, Inc. offers a number of ways to get you started:

If you want to increase your chances for success next year, start putting your business plan together in September.   The research shows you’ll have a much better chance of growing your business if you do!