How to make 2012-13 a happy and profitable new financial year

Businesses get two shots at New Year reinvigoration – the calendar year version and the financial year version.

We need this “double dipping” as, having seen inside many a business, I can say that while most of us start the New (financial/calendar) Year with a long list of exciting projects, boundless enthusiasm, and a sense of anticipation, within a few weeks it’s largely forgotten and replaced with operational “business as usual”.

Here are eight tips to help you kick off, and maintain, your FY 13 projects:

  1. 1. Make sure that every project has one member of the management team accountable for it.
  2. 2. Be very strict about the accountability – only one person can be accountable for any one project even though other people from the management team may work on it.
  3. 3. Don’t overload the management team. It’s better for each person to be accountable for just one project – and get it done – than be accountable for many and make little progress.
  4. 4. Check that the management team understand what ‘being accountable’ for the project means. In other words, that they understand that the role is to make sure the work gets done, and not (just) to do it themselves. You might think this is too obvious to spell out but it’s actually often misunderstood.
  5. 5. Hold monthly management meetings to review progress on the projects. This meeting can be added to your monthly operational meeting, but do take a five-minute break between the two parts so that the team can move their headspace from operational to strategic.
  6. 6. At the first monthly meeting, get each team member to talk about how they have organised their project. This will help you flush out any that are still going it alone rather than taking the ‘accountability’ role. As outlined in Step 4.
  7. 7. Set projects up with quarterly milestones. Some projects may fit neatly into one quarter but in practice most don’t. Quarterly goals are useful because they provide sufficient time to make real progress without the end being so far away that there’s no sense of urgency.
  8. 8. Have a quarterly meeting to review progress on the projects, set new quarterly goals and select new projects to replace finished ones.

Here’s to a profitable FY 13. Good luck.

Julia Bickerstaff‘s expertise is in helping businesses grow profitably. She runs two businesses: Butterfly Coaching, a small advisory firm with a unique approach to assisting SMEs with profitable growth; and The Business Bakery, which helps kitchen table tycoons build their best businesses. Julia is the author of How to Bake a Business and was a partner at Deloitte. She is a chartered accountant and has an economics degree from The London School of Economics (London University).


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