Never Look Back For Success

A very wise colleague once told me that you should always look to the future for success – never look to the past. While looking back provides the building blocks of your experience, you can't change it, so there is no sense in dwelling on it. No truer words can be spoken when it comes to business. Find out why.

Your annual financial statements establish the foundation of how your company has operated. Just looking at the bottom line tells you very little, but when you analyze all of the individual components of your business operation, you can identify your strengths and weakness. You can't change the results so there is no use in crying over spilt milk. Dwelling on what could have been will only make you miserable, but using it to prepare for the future can make a huge difference.

The future success of your business is based on first: setting goals (in writing) and second: making a plan that will address your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths. I may sound a little like a broken record, but preparing a comprehensive business plan is your best opportunity for success. It maps out your future in detail and without one you are leaving far too much to chance.

I found a perfect example of this during a discussion I had with one of my dealer clients last week. When we first connected, he talked and I listened about the struggles he and everyone else endured throughout the recession. How the weather and disappointing 2011 economy affected his business last year. We talked about salaries, interest expense, sales and a lot of WHAT IF'S.

After I prepared his business plan we agreed that I would update it on a monthly basis by replacing the current months plan projections with the actual financial results. Last week we reviewed the numbers and he raised a concern that he was a little behind his 2011 year to date. He asked me how can that be when you are showing increased profit over the original business plan profit projection and well above last year's results. My answer was never look back, because it has no bearing on your future. Even though sales are slightly down, your expenses are also below projection resulting in an overall increase in plan profit.

I was very excited by his response because in a sense it validated everything I was saying about business plans. He said, "So my concern is only how we are performing within the business plan and if we deviate, that's when we make changes. I understand how the plan can allow me to post the projected number of unit sales each month so my salesmen know what is expected. I can see where we are outperforming our expense projections. When we do next year's plan I am going to work off delivery dates for sales projections, not the sale date." This is just a highlight of our conversation, but most important was his enthusiasm towards the value of his plan and how he can use it to control the future of his business. This was music to my ears.

Make no mistake, projections have to be realistic and you still have to make the sales, but this dealer has a road map to success based on changes he is making for the future. In today's economy you can't achieve this without a comprehensive financial plan that maps out every step of the way.

I encourage all dealers that are not preparing a business plan to embrace this as a part of your financial management. If you are not convinced, contact me and I will show you how it works. You won't be disappointed.

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Lisa Marie on Chris Brown, Lifeline Business Solutions

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"When it comes to Finance and Commercial Credit, he is one of the most knowledgeable people I know. No one I know has more in-depth experience or understands distribution finance better than Chris"

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