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Smith: Now is the time to put a new years blueprint on paper for your business
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It is truly interesting to see how we condition ourselves to react a certain way at different times of the year. At this time of the year, most of us are fattening up ourselves as well as our credit card accounts.

There are those other times, too. As April 15 draws near, anxiety levels grow because of the Internal Revenue Service.

And then there is Jan. 1. There's something magical about that date.

The first day of January is the start of a brand new calendar year. It is a magical day in which we can start anew. For many businesses, Jan. 1 is the beginning of a new business year. For the next 52 weeks, all efforts will be focused on improving or surpassing the previous year's results.

If a plan and goals have not already been established by Jan. 1, then they should be formulated in the near future. It is not surprising that many business owners have never written any definitive business plan and most likely never will do so. There is something in the human psyche that does not like to put qualitative nor quantitative benchmarks on paper or into memory. Perhaps it's the thought of accountability that unnerves folks.

As the planning process for the future begins, here are some thoughts that may be useful while creating a blueprint for the future of the business. This exercise can be used in one's personal life as well.

Please understand that for this plan to work, the people taking part in the process must open their minds. Go ahead and color outside the lines with the idea that there is a long-range goal to be achieved.

The second point to remember is that people must put themselves in a position where they have the option to take advantage of the opportunity. There may be outside forces that influence the thought-making process, but there is but one soul that makes the choice.

Make a "Master Dream List." Write down every single item or thing that has ever come to mind that would benefit the business and you. There are no limitations. Remember, color outside the lines.

From that master list, break down different categories and list each dream item under one or more of the headings.

One category might be financial, while others are mental, physical, employees and so on. As the list is developed, it will become apparent that many of the items are related.

In order to reach a certain level of assets, a certain type of employee is required. This is not a list to be looked at each day, but only three or four times a year.

What has been accomplished? Has the business been put in a place to take advantage of opportunities as they are presented? Do you have more memories than dreams?

J.C. Smith is a consultant for the Gainesville district office of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center, 770-531-5681. His column appears Tuesdays and at