Why All Companies, Public and Private, Should Write Annual Reports

An annual report isn’t just for shareholders.  Writing an annual report forces you to look deeply into the activities of the past year and see what worked and what didn’t. Those insights are vital to planning your next 12 months.

An annual report also creates a history of your decisions and their outcomes that can be used for future planning and dealing with unexpected problems. Being able to find an answer to a current problem by looking back through your annual reports for that similar situation you remember from eight years ago is a big time-saver and can help you dig into other records that you used to create that annual report.

This article gives you an idea of how to write a good annual report:

Simplified Structure of an Annual Report

An annual report is necessary if your company is a corporation with shareholders or limited liability company with members. Even if you have a sole proprietorship or a one-person corporation, writing an annual report can be a beneficial exercise. If you apply for a loan or hire professional services, you may be asked for a copy of your annual report. A simple document of a few pages in length is adequate.  MORE


How to Write a Vision and Scope Document

You should be doing this whether you are just starting to plan your new business, working on your plans for the new year, or preparing a presentation for funding.

Sitting down to write a vision document and a scope document helps you see holes and inconsistencies in your business activities and can give you a great new idea …


Vision and scope documents define what your customer or company has in mind as well as describe the work process necessary to reach that vision. For example, entrepreneurs benefit from writing a vision and scope document to define their business ideas and list how to develop them into reality. Project managers use such a document to identify the expected result of the project and to set forth the methods and activities necessary to achieve that result.

First things first – Enterprise Alignment

You have examined your business to see what your enterprise actually does best. You looked at your target customer to make sure you understand who you are selling to. Now consider how well aligned your company management, operations, production, marketing, sales and customer service are with your goals for 2013.

It is difficult to keep all processes in a company aligned with strategic goals. An enterprise gets out of alignment when information flows down through layers of management, particularly if each division or department is managed independently. The problem with information flow through separate enterprise channels is each manager translates the information differently and passes it along to subordinates. This results in branching of effort into side projects that don’t support the strategic goals of the company. Whether the branching results in useful information is debatable. It is often simply extra information that never quite gets assimilated into enterprise strategy and direction.

During strong economies, a loose alignment of enterprise purposes is not much of a problem. During weak economies, though, each branch off the main alignment saps money and effort.

Investigate each division or department to discover small projects or processes that are not in alignment with your vision for 2013. How do they add value to your main enterprise product? Does the customer ever receive any benefit from these unaligned efforts?

In difficult economic times, lean company tactics can keep you profitable. Lean tactics start with looking at your enterprise through the eyes of your customers. What do they see as value in your company? You already asked yourself who your company is and what your company actually does – now ask your best customers the same question about your company. They may see an entirely different value to doing business with your company than you have identified.

The key to success is to eliminate all the branches that take energy and forward momentum away from your enterprise and position your enterprise efforts to align with producing value. Further, your image of value must align with the value your customers seek when they do business with you.

It is often difficult to let go of pet projects, marginal operations and exploratory activities but focusing your money and enterprise effort on doing what you do best will result in a much stronger company in 2013, regardless of what the economy is like.