If you’re not already thinking about 2013, it’s time.

Your fourth-quarter goals need to be built in part to set up a strong start to 2013. So if you aren’t thinking about 2013 now, you can’t adequately build Q4 goals either.

Here are several questions you should ask of yourself, your team, your peers and your company before the end of September:

  1. What would we have done differently in 2012 if we could start over tomorrow?
  2. Which three critical decisions do we wish we could go back and make again?
  3. Where have our competitors beat us this year?  How does that impact our strategy and execution now, positively and negatively?  How should that affect our strategy and execution moving forward?
  4. What are businesses like ours in different industries doing exceedingly well?  Which of those best practices should we test in Q4 to potentially become growth drivers in 2013?
  5. If we asked our top customers what they want from us in 2013, would that match our product plan?
  6. Where are we wasting money?
  7. Where have we been penny wise and pound foolish?
  8. How can we make our front-line employees act and execute in a more focused, strategic manner?
  9. Do people want to work here?
  10. Do our employees have the training and tools to do their job effectively?
  11. What’s keeping our customers from leaving?  How many of those factors do we control?
  12. Is the marketing plan built and executed with an understanding and focus on what drives sales, revenue and overall company performance?
  13. Do our employees feel rewarded for delivering outstanding results?
  14. Do we make our customers feel special?
  15. If you could go back and decide whether or not to work here, what would your answer be?  And what does that answer tell you to do right now?