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
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.
It shows a likely stock market crash on the way, and that brings on very difficult times for everyone. In this case, on top of the most sluggish and prolonged recovery from recession I have ever witnessed, it could quite easily create a situation much worse than the Great Recession.
I know you get sick of hearing me warn about over-expanding before you know what is around the corner … well … this just might be the monster around the next corner.
I know you are also tired of me warning about taking on debt at this time, but if things look like like what this chart is showing, debt will strangle you!
And, although I no longer carry my mountains of securities industry licenses, and I can’t give investment advice, I can say that you might want to read up on the subject of “Protective Puts” if you have any investments in the stock market.
I like to buy those school year calendar books with plastic covers – particularly the red ones, but whatever is on sale at Staples after the school year has started. These calendars are great because they usually provide 18 months of calendars and plenty of space for notes. I like to have a physical calendar for the same reason I like hands on my clocks – I can easily see how many quarters of the pie are left. Visual and tactile are good for me. You may find the calendar app on your smartphone a better alternative. I know people who make their own calendars in Excel. Whatever works.
Take your calendar in hand and start making notes. Put in dates when payments are due, subscriptions, licenses and memberships expire. Indicate your fiscal year-end and select a date when you should start working on organizing your quarterly and year-end finances and tax planning.
Next, start working on your marketing efforts. Make notes about good and bad marketing months. Indicate convention dates. Put in deadline dates for monthly publications. Set benchmark dates on which you will either congratulate your team for hitting the benchmark goal, or begin re-thinking your marketing assumptions.
Each business has its own high and low seasons, important dates and annual requirements. Most of the time they sneak up on us.
Every November I tell my clients to start their planning for next year. After a couple of years of frustration trying to get busy business owners to sit down and write out annual operational plans, I started showing them my own method which consists of about a weekend worth of enterprise soul-searching and the following week filling in my calendar as I think of new things I want to add.
This system won’t work for a Fortune 500 company, but it works just dandy for the average small business or startup.
While walking Watson (my 150 lb Chocolate Lab) today, I noticed how the forest rangers had been clearing out old trees and opening up space for the sun to reach the bushes and new trees on the ground. They do this so the forest remains healthy – so the lower level bushes and new trees can grow. The thought hit me that this is exactly what entrepreneurs need to do to keep their businesses growing.
Clearing out dead trees in your business can be a difficult and emotional task. You planted so many of them yourself, and were proud to see them grow. However, as time changes all things, some of your plantings have become old and weak while others are taking over and killing the growth or forward momentum of your enterprise.
This is business planning season. Before you ring in the New Year 2013, take some time to critically examine your business for time wasters, money wasters and projects that are taking your business in a problematic direction.
Keep your efforts aligned with growth and forward motion. Unfortunately, during difficult economic times, every entrepreneur must compromise to keep the doors open. We often take on projects that sap our productivity and draw our enterprise out of alignment with our strategies and goals.
Now is the time to start identifying those areas of your enterprise and removing them, like the forest rangers are removing the unhealthy aspects of the forest next door.