Summer holidays feel almost endless for children, as they see friends, go on family trips, or just simply enjoy the freedom from school. And then September comes, and a great refresh begins.
Parents and students frantically dash to ensure everything is set – protractors and calculators through to colouring pens and paint brushes are shoved into physical and virtual shopping baskets.
But this time isn’t just for parents and children – it should be a critical time in the year for businesses too. It’s a time to put a stake in the ground and bring forward any activities for the following year that the coming January might be too late for.
The September assessment
While children are just returning to school, businesses should be undergoing self-assessments. This means taking stock of progress made against objectives that were set at the start of the year and asking yourself key questions: Are you on track to meet those targets? If not, what are the reasons for this? What can be done to get you back on track for the rest of the year?
It’s highly likely that you’ll need to pivot in one way or another – finding new partners that are more cost-effective, adjusting your rates to keep up with the rising cost of business, or monitoring cashflow a little more closely in a biting economic climate.
Going through this process in September will set you up for a strong final few months of the year.
Getting ahead of the new year
It’s also important to consider how the business landscape has shifted and what that means for the new year. It certainly feels like a period of real uncertainty right now, with political change, the cost of living crisis, and regular industrial action.
It is essential to consider how such factors have and will impact your business goals, strategies, and operations. Did you have plans, for example, to launch a new product in January that you need to move forward because the market demands it? Or do you need to reconsider expansion plans until your cashflow feels a little more comfortable?
Invest the time
At Dropbox, we make sure we do all these things – preparing for the following year in advance. We start our company planning for 2023, while reviewing our progress, and expected delivery against our OKRs for the current financial year. This is an important time to look back at the cadence, the deliveries and the course corrections that you’ve made, in order to plan and prepare for the challenges of a new business year and the required strategies to be successful. We look in detail at what metric we need to continue to push hard on, our project cycles to ensure that we hit delivery dates as well as check on revenue progress and forecasts.
Taking this time to reflect in August is vital. Think of it as ‘doing your homework’ in order to come prepared for the sprint from the beginning of Q4 to year-end, building your foundations for success and growth in 2023. The new year will be upon you sooner than you think, so build time in (ideally on a sunny day) to reflect on performance, visualise the new paths forward and ruthlessly hold yourself to account on items still to deliver.
It is also essential to pursue clarity on your progress to year-end goals. We use online tools to measure team progress toward our strategies, providing a transparent view of how teams are performing and where we are accelerating progress. Our aim is to have all major company deliverables trackable, so we can see where we need to support teams.
Running a business is hard work – it’s often non-stop and with your head in the day-to-day cycle of your operations, it can be hard to take a step out. But I cannot stress enough how critical it is to invest the time to step outside of the day-to-day, to give your business a full assessment and to analyse your plans for the final few months of the year and the year ahead.