Fourth quarter means numbers crunch time

Greg Morris
Greg Morris

By Greg Morris

September is half over. I don’t know about you, but I feel like the journey through the last three to four months of the year is always a crazy one.

And for those of us doing business on a calendar-year budget, we only have about three months left to bring in our year.

Three months to make sure we achieve budget, top line and bottom line for 2012. (This includes making up any deficits accrued in the prior nine months.)

Three months to plan for next year.

Three months to put our companies in a position to excel in 2013.

There’s still a lot of ground to cover before the sun sets on the year. But the time will go by quickly.

With September on its way out, October will pass quickly. 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.

It’s crunch time. How well you and your team execute and navigate these next three months will determine the final outcome of 2012.

It will also determine the extent to which you are set up to succeed in 2013.

Focus on what is most 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 2013 information for their budget cycle.

Special sections, supplements, magazines, top 25 lists and events are planned.

Digital/web offerings and strategies are refined.

Advertising rates are set.

Circulation strategies are finalized.

By Oct. 1 we strive to have each week of the following year mapped out, which will define our editorial calendar.

Wait. Oct. 1 is about two weeks away!

I guess it’s a good thing we’re pretty far down the road on these projects.

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’s a lot of work and planning to be done.

Hopefully you’ve started your process.

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?

Some media executives were overheard to say the best thing about 2011 was that it ended on Dec. 31.

While 2012 is challenging to be sure, I’m hopeful most of us will be able to report at least moderate growth this year over last.

I’m looking for 2013 to offer more positive gains.

Maybe growth will be slower for some entities than in the glory days past, but smart operators will find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the years ahead. I’m optimistic.

It’s time we all get positive about this great business we’re in as we continue to develop new products our readers and advertisers embrace and support.

Good luck with your year-end results, and happy planning for 2013. It’s crunch time!

Greg Morris, HSPA board of directors president, is presi­­dent of IBJ Media and publisher of Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears in the first issue of each month.