July is more than half over. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the journey through the last five months of the year is always a crazy one. And for those of us doing business on a calendar-year budget, we have only five months left to bring in our year. Five months to make sure we achieve budget, top line and bottom line, for 2010. (This includes making up any deficits accrued in the prior seven months.) Five months to plan for next year. Five months to put our companies in a position to excel in 2011. There is still a lot of ground to cover before the sun sets on the year. But the time will go by quickly.
With July on its way out, August means back to school and the return of football. Labor Day will pass us by in a flash, then October. Thanksgiving signals the end of November. And before you know it, the new year will be upon us. Put another year in the record books.
It’s kind of scary to think about it. Most companies today are operating with fewer staff and resources, and many managers have assumed more front-line, day-to-day responsibilities to help their company save money. IBJ Media is no exception. Yet the demand for performance is greater than ever. Somehow, we have to figure out how to keep the day-to-day momentum going through the end of the year while at the same time stopping to think, reflect, strategize, budget and plan for the upcoming year. It’s not an easy task, but it has to be done.
How well you and your team execute will tell the tale of this year and set you up for 2011. Focus on what is important. Time is too valuable to waste. Even though many folks feel like they are working harder than at any other time in their lives, it’s probably the time to be putting in more hours. While it all sounds a little daunting, the payoff is worth the effort. The positive results you can achieve over the next few months will carry you over the finish line.
At IBJ, we have to get our act together early to enable our advertising customers to have our 2011 information for their budget cycle. Special sections, supplements, magazines, top 25 lists and events will be planned. Digital and web offerings will be refined. Advertising rates will be set. By Sept. 1, we will strive to have each week of the following year mapped out, which will define our news calendar. Circulation strategies will be finalized and we’ll shoot for completing our budgets by Thanksgiving. Our budgets come in the form of weekly projections by product area.
Whatever your ritual is, I’m certain there is a lot of work and planning to be done. It’s not too early to start at least thinking about your time line and strategy to prepare for next year. Did I mention you need to do all this planning while keeping your eye on activities that will ensure bringing in the current year at or above budget?
Many people said the best thing about 2009 was that it ended. While 2010 is still a challenging year, I’m hopeful most of us will be able to report at least moderate growth this year over last. That should be the case here at IBJ. I’m looking for 2011 to be more of a breakout year for many of us. Maybe growth will be slower than in days past, but it should be stronger than the past few years. I’m optimistic. Conditions do seem to be improving. It’s time we all get positive about getting back to business. Good luck with your year-end results and happy planning. It’s crunch time!•
Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.