Profit Planning: How to Take Control of Your 2016 Destiny

Optimized-Profit Planning SuccessThis is such a wonderful time of year. The holidays are approaching and you have the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, and perhaps even slow down before the New Year arrives. Then someone like me starts beating the drum to remind us it’s planning season for 2016. Woohoo!  (More like boo-hoo for many businesses.) Here come the excuses:

  • It’s too early to start planning, we haven’t even finished 2015
  • I don’t need a plan….never had one and look how well I’m doing!
  • It’s too complicated, and besides it just goes in the drawer
  • I only prepare one because my bank asks for it
  • I’ve never done one before…I don’t know where do start

Yep, over the years I’ve heard it all.  So let’s start by calling the process “Profit Planning” and not budgeting.  Budgeting sounds like a huge chore. However, Profit Planning is the process of taking control of creating your 2016 destiny.

In a future article, I will cover why all businesses need an annual Profit Plan and how it can help your business succeed. For now let’s focus on getting the process started, which is where I find many businesses get stuck. Since it’s a process, it takes time.  Profit Planning needs be thoughtful and include your key employees.  Preparing a plan without other’s input will likely set you up for failure.  Buy-in from those that will be executing the plan is critical.  It will help establish the accountability for the results.

Here, I’ve outlined my 4-step process for preparing the Profit Plan.  It can be tailored to your specific cost & expense structure. It’s simply: Pinpoint – Prepare – Perfect – Proceed.

  1. Pinpoint
    1. Identify your 2016 initiatives
  2. Prepare
    1. Complete forecasts:
      1. Sales by month (e.g. by product, product line, category, customer)
      2. Cost of Sales (same basis as Sales)
      3. Gross Margin
      4. Head count and related Payroll Expenses
      5. Marketing Expenses
      6. Sales Expenses
      7. General & Administrative Expenses (i.e. overhead)
      8. Finance Expenses
      9. Other expense categories unique to your business
  1. Perfect
    1. Review, revise and approve all Expenses
    2. Review, revise and approve 2016 Profit Plan and Forecasted Cash Flow
  2. Proceed
    1. Enter Profit Plan detail in Accounting Software (for reporting comparison to actual results)

Within your process, you will want to identify the person primary responsible for each line item with the projected start and complete dates. This will help you manage the process and the team members involved. The Profit Planning process normally takes between 6-8 weeks with a consistent and committed focus.  That’s why it is so important to start the process now to ensure the quality of the plan.

Next time, I will be discussing tips on preparing the Profit Plan and Forecasted Cash Flow including how to set it up in Excel. If you can’t wait, please email me and I’ll forward you an early copy.

Written by

Rick Arthur is a CFO whose expertise is built on Financial Intelligence and 35 years in senior financial roles. Coupled with a CEO’s perspective and the experience of building his own $20 million company, he brings a unique depth of insight into business from the top down. Wired to get to know people, Rick works hand-in-hand with business owners of intentional, growth-oriented companies, solidifying relationships as a trusted advisor and confidant to his clients. He leverages his experience to help business owners gain traction and stay laser-focused on the company’s vision, cash flow, and profitability – all while creating big picture solutions for strategic planning, growth and sustainable success.