Thursday, January 16, 2014

THE PLANNING MEETING

Gordon Bower and I were having lunch with an attorney friend of ours last week and the discussion turned to their annual planning retreat.  They, like us, have a formal annual planning retreat where all the owners of the firm and their spouses go away for a few days and plan out how the firm is going to operate for the next year.  Our firm has been doing this for the past 25 years or so and it has been a huge help to our successfully running the business.  At the meeting we keep formal minutes, discuss all aspects of operating the business and plan out all our major actions for the coming year.  We make decisions about salaries, equipment purchases, marketing techniques, office space, operating expenses and anything else that comes up.

By taking our spouses we are able to get their perspective on major issues, which is very helpful, and we do some team building in the process.  We have found that it is absolutely imperative that the retreat is held away from both home and office.  This point is hard to convince other business owners of, but it really is a necessity.  The most common excuse we hear is that the business owner can’t afford to take the time away from the business.  However, over the years we have been able to direct a few of our clients to have this type of planning retreat and they have universally agreed that it is the best thing they do all year and that they can’t afford not to take this time away from the business.  Much of the anxiety of running a business can be greatly reduced by taking this special time to discuss and make decisions about the operations of the business for the coming year.

To get you started you could use your financial statement or tax return as a guide and go through the document line by line, discussing each category of income and expense.  Much emphasis should be placed on the sales category since it entails the major areas of marketing, collections, and customer satisfaction.  If you need help getting started, we could help you set the agenda, but by all means, consider making the business planning retreat an annual event.  You will be glad you did.

Loren L McCann, CPA, MS (Tax)

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