You don’t need a long, tedious business plan …
Have you ever written down and communicated your goals? When you have written goals and objectives in place, you will find that you are able to spend time managing your business …
Once written down and communicated, you will then be in the best position to make operational decisions based on what you’ve already outlined in your goals and objectives list.
“Do you really need that long, tedious business plan that you have been told you must have?”
Once completed, the likelihood is that you will never look at it again. It will be locked away in a draw and, to be honest, it is of absolutely no use to you whatsoever. It’s out of date as soon as it’s completed.
So what does work and why should you plan? “Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” A business plan is a tool to aid decision making, it should be a living document that works for you, that is continuously reviewed in light of the business environment and actual performance.
“This enables the business owners to oversee business performance and make informed decisions!”
The strategic planning process is a valuable and exciting exercise that can be a major contributor to team building and a means of developing ownership/commitment to the plan. Involve people because it should end up as ‘our plan’ not ‘their plan imposed on us’.
I work with a three step process beginning with a ‘goals wheel’ culminating with a ‘living’ plan that assists with commitment and continued accountability.
There are various exercises that I can introduce that would be helpful in the planning process:
Explore your vision for the future of the business. Take the time to reflect and think of what you aspire to for your life and business in the future. This is the time to be creative, thinking ‘without boundaries’ and exploring exciting opportunities three to five years in advance.
Consider your business and the goals you have for the growth/exit for the business. List anything and everything you could possibly want; go on, be brave and dream big!
Strategically plan all aspects of your Goals Wheel, listing all the attributes and targets you believe the business must have in order for you to reach your personal and business goals and aspirations. Ensure all targets and goals are S.M.A.R.T.
Working with a Business Mentor on this important aspect of planning is key to the success and implementation of the plan resulting in:
Clarity of the goals and targets you have set.
Confidence that you have the knowledge skills and competencies to achieve these goals.
Motivation to get out of bed and achieve.
Accountability ensuring commitment to carry out your plans.
You will have done a lot of work to get this far, understanding your vision and goals with a strategic plan is a great start.
This is when the hard work really begins. You will work tirelessly on your plan and realise that along the way adjustments need to be made and occasionally ideas and goals totally change. I always encourage continuous review and 90 day planning meetings to plan, implement, reflect, review and improve for continued success.
“Why would planning help a business that has a few years of history more than one that is just starting up?”
Some fascinating studies have demonstrated that proper planning can help companies grow at least 30% faster. One study, published in 2010, aggregated research on the business growth of 11,046 companies and found that planning improved business performance.
Interestingly, this same study found that planning benefited existing companies even more than it helped start-ups. But, this study still doesn’t answer the question it raises: “why would planning help a business that has a few years of history more than one that is just starting up?”
The answer (most likely) lies in the fact that existing businesses know a bit more about their customers and what their needs are than a new start-up does. For an existing business, planning involves fewer guesses or assumptions that need to be proven, so the strategies they develop are based on more information.
Another study found that companies that properly plan grow 30% faster than those that don’t plan. This study found that plenty of businesses can find success without planning, but that businesses with a plan grew faster and were more successful than those that didn’t plan.
To reinforce the connection between planning and fast growth, yet another study (last one for today!) found that fast-growing companies that had over 92% growth in sales from one year to the next usually have business plans.
“In fact, 71% of fast-growing companies have plans!”
They create budgets, set sales goals, and document their marketing and sales strategies so my call to action this week is for you to take some time to work on your business to set goals and build a plan for your future.
More importantly, re-visit your plan as you grow and revise it as you learn more about your business and your customers.
And if you’d like a coach to keep you on track, why not call me on 01280 700405 or click here to send me an email enquiry and let’s have a conversation about your goals and objectives to see how I can help you.
Until next time …
PS: The study information in my blog post this week was provided by the Journal of Management Studies.