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How can you make 2017 even better than 2016?

Begin by taking the pulse of your organization as you re-evaluate last year’s SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). Pull the team together and ask yourselves what you did right. Knowing what you know about the first nine months, how should you change the strategy for next year?

Outside forces-whether they come from the community, your competitors, the government or the economy-require us to constantly refine our business plans. By studying the business cycle, we can assess our current fitness level and make changes that will get us in shape for the next challenge.

Several years ago, when I worked closely with leaders at the Dayton-Hudson Corporation, we started the planning cycle in July. Even though the almighty fourth quarter seemed a long way off, it took time to evaluate things such as marketing, staffing, and facility needs. I learned that regardless of when your fiscal year starts, it is always wise to do a review now and to get your team together to develop the plan for the new upcoming year.

It’s true that some leaders prefer to just go with the flow. But a wise mentor once advised me, “You have to zig and zag!” When we take note of what is changing, we can determine how to convert these threats into opportunities. Reflect and make adjustments while the third quarter of the year is still fresh in your mind.

So even though your thoughts are on enjoying the beautiful Fall weather when business may not be at peak performance, it’s never too early to get a running start on 2017.