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If you’re a parent, you’ve probably spent the past few weeks in a frantic push to get your child or children ready to head back to school. You’ve invested in new wardrobes, bought countless glue sticks, notebooks and other school supplies, and mentally prepared them for the rigors of getting back to a daily schedule after the more relaxed pace of summer. 

Now, it’s time to give your organization that same level of attention and focus on getting back to business. This is a critical time of year for every leader to step back and ask some intentional questions like:

  • Are we reaching our sales goals?
  • Are we struggling to consistently attain fundraising objectives?
  • Are we making strides to reach our next level of growth?
  • Do we lack an overall strategy for sales and business growth?
  • Are we still toiling to provide marketing support that truly addresses our organizational needs?

This examination is critical now because the reality is that both for-profit and non-profit organizations only have September and October to really “set the table” for January 2018 and beyond. Why? Because it takes time to effectively assess needs and to put new plans in place. As you approach November and December, the holidays and resulting employee and vendor vacations, end of year reporting burdens and more make it much more difficult to effectively assemble your team, coordinate strategies and have plans in place that are ready to execute as the calendar page turns to 2018.  

So what can you do now to ensure that 2018 lives up to your expectations? 

First, identify the questions you need to ask. Start with our list above, but then take the next step to customize them for the unique needs of your organization and to face those elephants in the room head on.

Next, step back and honestly answer those questions. With all the day-to-day pressures and deadlines of simply doing business, it’s easy for an organizational leader to automatically say, “we’re doing fine” without looking at the bigger picture. Sales and/or donations may be growing, but are they growing at the pace your plan requires? You might be meeting clients’ current needs, but are you actively planning how to address their future needs as technology changes or as they require additional products or services? Is your staff able to handle the current workload effectively, or are they always operating in crisis mode and just telling you that they can handle the work?  

Once you have a clear picture of what you need, it’s time to take action and address those requirements. Many organizations attempt to tackle this on their own, yet a more effective course of action is to invest in a professional consultant who can objectively assess your organization’s needs and offer solutions that are aligned with current best practices. Why? Because you and your staff are often too close to the situation and far too burdened with the details of daily work to take that necessary step back. A consultant has the expertise – and the time – to help you determine what realistic objectives should be and then to align your organizational practices with those objectives to ensure that you reach them. 

But whichever route you choose, the time to start is now so that you can toast your success in the New Year.