Article

Reacting In Rome Influencing At Home

February 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by David Keller, CPA, CFE - Also by this author

What is the most important thing you should do as you wind down 2006 and get ready for 2007?  Have you even thought about it?   If not, why not?  What are you waiting for?  Get busy planning for a better year next year!

As I write this, I am on a plane flying back from Italy to the good old USA, returning from a family vacation with my wife, Vicki, and my mother.  My stepdaughter is attending college in Rome this year as a transfer student with Loyola in Chicago.  We met my sister-in-law and her husband in Rome, who flew over on a different flight.  It was a trip of a lifetime for my wife and her sister, as their grandparents emigrated from Italy (actually Sicily) when they were young. 

The reason I tell you all of this is that without a great deal of research, planning and execution for this trip, it never would have happened.  We started months ago, trying to isolate a two-week period in which we were all available, plan our itinerary, locate hotels in five cities, and reserve a vehicle that could transport all of us and our luggage everywhere we wanted to go.

We found some of our destinations with the help of the rental vehicle’s GPS system, and my brother-in-law, a retired pilot, programmed it, kept it up-to–date and guided me when directions from the GPS seemed illogical.  We drove, rode buses and traveled on a car ferry to get to all the places we visited.

If you don’t start planning for 2007 now, your year might be like the streets we encountered in Rome.  If you have never driven in Europe, let me describe it to you.  They have extremely narrow streets with drivers who pay no attention to traffic lanes, stop signs or lights.  There are no parking signs, tow away zones or one way roads.  They make four traffic lanes from two of ours, and to top it off, there are scooters and motorcycles coming at you from every direction, creating traffic lanes that don’t even exist.  Scooters dodge in and out of every lane, cutting in front of and between cars from every direction.  Cab drivers in New York could learn a lot from these fearless drivers.

If you don’t plan, you will find yourself just reacting to what happens to you instead of influencing what happens to you.  The rest of the world will speed by, knowing exactly what they want and doing anything they can to get there as soon as possible.  Proper planning takes more than a few minutes. You have to consider the timetable in which you expect results, the people needed to accomplish your goals and rely on some guidance as you travel to the conclusion of your goals.  Along the way, you will encounter time restraints, unavoidable detours, people who have “parked” in front of you and blocked the street.  To complicate this further, not everyone you encounter will speak your language.

Planning can help you prepare for, reduce or even avoid many of these road blocks.  Because you want everyone to arrive at the final destination, you need to inform your personnel of your plans.  There are a lot of side streets and even some dark alleys you may all have to drive through; rarely ever an interstate.  You will need to analyze the strengths of your staff and sometimes make changes to achieve your goals. Keep your banker, accountant, industry consultants and your attorney informed along the way.  They will be able to provide you with guidance throughout any slow downs or detours.

How do you start your planning?  Ask yourself what you want to accomplish.  Put it on paper.  It doesn’t have to be neat, or complete, in the beginning.  Remember, you are working on your first draft, not your final draft.  Allow flexibility in your plans, but don’t lose sight of your goals. There will be times when you can speed down the interstate, but other times you will sit in traffic jams wondering if you are ever going to move forward.

Our vacation went very well, in spite of all our traffic challenges. We completed the proper planning, were flexible enough to make changes as needed, took some detours, had guidance aids as we traversed the country, allowed enough time to get to where we wanted to go and were able to take some shortcuts. But, we also encountered many obstacles slowed down progress.  The business world you exist in is very similar. 

The difference in your company is YOU and what you have PLANNED to do.  It may not always be easy to get there, but make sure you have fun doing it.  Do it to the best of your ability, make sure you are going in the right direction, hire the right people, get additional help when needed and set reasonable timetables to reach your goals.  Don’t try to accomplish so much too fast; you’ll crash your original goals.  You and your company’s future depend on it.

Vol 3, Issue 12

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