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A new year has begun, but it's not too late to make some New Year's resolutions for your business. Consider taking time today to write down a plan. It doesn't have to be on the computer, but commit your plan to something more firm than a napkin corner. It doesn't have to be multiple pages. Just write down exactly what you plan for the business to accomplish in 2012.

Do you plan to increase sales by 5%? How? What will you do get that sales increase? How will you get customers into your store? Will you try a new vendor or take a higher IMU% to grow your profit? Your purpose, or goal, can be only a couple of sentences long but it should be something you can measure. It is just a general statement or goal to be completed this year, 2012.

Next, write down the exact steps to achieve your goal. These should be specific, measurable, realistic, require action and have a time limit set. Also include a list of potential problems that you'd like to avoid and the steps you may take to avoid them.

Here's something about a written plan you may not know. It is written on paper, not stone. That way, you can change it as needed. It is written on paper, not a tissue or "stored in your brain". It is written down clearly so every one who works for you can also understand the goals for the business and work toward the same goal. Generally, most business owners spend most of their time either fighting fires or working in the business, not on the business. It's easy to lose sight of what the big picture really is.

A written plan is not about the paper, number of pages or where you can find it on the computer. It's about the process-the steps-to achieve the goal. Most of the time, you will not be able to predict the future so well that your plan works exactly as written. But, the plan is about the process. Anything alive is changing . . . so is your business. A plan will need to be tweaked, altered, updated and flat-out changed from time to time because your business is alive. Plan to change your plan to meet your goal.

Most people know everything they need to know to dramatically improve their business. But, knowing something in a disorganized way and knowing something in an organized way produces vastly different outcomes. Remember, writing a plan is not about the plan, it's about the process. It's about the opportunity to think ahead about goals and expectations. Some parts of the plan will be perfect, others not so much. Those defective parts will be discarded or altered to produce the desired result. In other words, you need to plan enough to make the right decision. If you have no idea where you are or where you want to go, how will recognize an opportunity when it knocks.

President Eisenhower said "Plans are worthless, but planning is priceless." Spend some time now to plan for your business' future. Write down your plan on paper. Include goals, expenses, potential problems and make your budget. Remember, it is not carved in stone but written on paper, like a road map through your store's life for 2012. Be prepared for the detours and ready to get back on course.   

Many retailers do not budget because they do not know where to start.  We have the accounting and retail knowledge needed to put your budget together.  If you need help or are interested in pricing information, click here.