Is it just me or does each year seem to fly by faster? It’s hard to believe that in less than a month, we’ll be celebrating another Christmas and welcoming in 2017.

As a small business owner, I know how taxing this period can be. Not only are you trying to juggle your personal life, you’re also finishing up for the year and planning ahead. Most of us will enjoy a few days off at the very least and if we’re really lucky, a few weeks off.

I’ve always found December to be a vital month for my businesses because it gives me a little head space to think about what’s taken place in the year and what I can improve on moving forward. Early on, like many business owners, I fell into the trap of failing to plan anything and before I knew it, everything was back in full swing and time was once again a fading commodity.

Planning really is everything – these days, I’ve worked up a solid Business Plan and every six months, I make a note in my calendar to update it. If you don’t have a Business Plan at all, now’s the perfect time to start working yours up ahead of 2017.

I’ll be honest: I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun while creating and updating my Business Plan over the years. Some areas have been a pure joy to work on but I’ve also had many frustrating moments. The most important thing you can do for your business right now is to start your Business Plan before we welcome in 2017. Realistically, it should take you a little while to complete as you’ll document things and then update them as ideas come to mind.

If you’ve got the budget and are willing to do so, you can choose to work with a business coach who’ll work alongside you for a certain number of weeks as you draft up your plan. Unfortunately, for many small business owners, this simply isn’t affordable or possible due to time constraints. Of course, you can also Google “Business Plan” and instantly see hundreds of template options that you can choose to work up. I’ve actually done this myself before (haven’t we all?) and found these kind of templates incredibly hard to work with.

Armed with the experienced gained over the last 15 years in business, I’ve put together an easy-to-follow Business Plan that you can download and start working on instantly. Like all of our Dawtek templates, it’s a one off cost, fully customisable and most importantly, it will see you creating goals for 2017 that you can work towards now. Unless you’re documenting your goals and keeping yourself accountable, how else can you know where you’re heading next year?

When you’re creating or updating your Business Plan, you’re giving yourself room to grow and a chance to analyse and learn from what’s already taken place in your business to date. You’re also actively thinking ahead about things that can make or break your business such as your finances, cash flow, staffing and so on. We’re all in business to grow and you need to implement a plan that allows you to keep up with growth.

As a small business owner, I know how hectic and overwhelming this time of the year can be. Unfortunately, those overnight success stories you may hear about in the news are not the norm. It takes planning to drive a successful business so this December, make sure you set some time aside and give yourself the headspace you need. Have a good think about where you’d like to be at the same time next year and the steps you need to take business-wise, to get there.

You can have a look at our current template list here – you’ll find everything from record registers to resource procedures and other business documents such as company profiles. It’s always best to have any documents such as company profiles handy and ready to go. There’s nothing worse than having to pull an all-nighter because you need something for an important meeting or presentation the next day. Trust me, I’ve been there!

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