No doubt, when you started your business, you, along with countless others, were told the importance of having a Business Plan and, yet, less than 5% of businesses have a plan; why is that?
There tends to be three types of business plan:
- The one you put together when you want your Bank to give you a loan. You know, the ones that never see the light of day when they have served their purpose. So they are not very useful when it comes to growing your business
- The one you put together to attract investment into your organisation. These can be very useful, but once again have a tendency to get stored away and never see the light of day once the investment has been secured.
- The one that’s a business improvement and growth plan that is tied to your life goals. After all, what is the point of putting yourself through the trials and tribulations of running a business if it is not going to help you achieve what it is you want for your life.
So, of the three, one and two have their uses, but three is vital if you are going to achieve the future you dream of…
How do you put together a compelling business improvement and growth plan?
You need to start with the end in mind. One day, you will look to exit your business. A key question is what will it look like when that day arrives?
- How many outlets/offices?
- What is the turnover/profits?
- How many people do you employ?
- How many hours are you working?
- What is the legacy you are leaving?
Of course, on a more personal note, as a result of having your ideal business, what is the lifestyle you are able to have for yourself and your family?
Once you are clear on what the business needs to be achieving and you have a concrete future date for this to be achieved, start to track back from that date to the present moment. Along the way you need to be setting down markers/targets for where your business needs to be at certain points along the journey. So let’s say you have a ten year plan for your business, where does it need to be in 5 years? Three years? 1 year? 90 days? Next week?
What I find works is to break your big plan down into bite sized chunks of 3 months. Then, every 3 months, evaluate;
- What were the big wins during this quarter?
- What did I learn as a result of what I did/didn’t do this quarter?
- What needs to happen in the next 3 months to move my business towards my overall vision?
So what should be included in your quarterly plan?
Because this is an action plan geared towards business improvement, the plan should focus on What is going to happen to achieve the desired result. For instance, if your goal for the quarter were to grow sales by 20%, you could achieve that by:
- Putting together a tested, measured and scripted sales system.
- Improve your sales skills by reading one Sales book per month making sure you have a strategy in place to implement what you learn.
- Have in place scripts to up-sell and cross-sell your products
Keep the plan ‘skinny.’ It is better to achieve 2-3 goals than to have a 101 uncompleted goals. Truth be known, it only takes a couple of solid strategies (for instance any two of the ones above) to double the sales in most businesses.
I recommend that every business person should be spending at least 4 hours per week working on their business. So the next step would be to timeline at least 4 hours every week which will be dedicated to implementing the strategies from your plan.You may be thinking where am I going to find 4 hours? Finding that 4 hours could well be a worthy goal for the next quarter because you need to be asking what is happening/not happening in your business that means that you cannot dedicate 4 hours to working on your business.
For you to achieve your compelling vision, at some stage you have to break the cycle of working every hour in your business because you will just keep going round and round in circles.
I have asked many business owners, how many years have you been in business? To which the reply may be 10 years. On further investigation, it turns out they have been in business 1 year, but just lived it 10 times because every year has been the same; they’ve neither grown nor expanded, made the same (or perhaps less) profit each year, basically experiencing the business equivalent of groundhog day! After ten years, you would hope to have more to show for your efforts than simply to have maintained the status quo of year 1 for 10 consecutive years!
Now, on a weekly basis working from your plan, break down your goals into the tasks that you will complete the following week during the 4 hours that you have put aside to work on your business. An important point here is treat these 4 hours as though you are meeting with your number 1 customer/client. You wouldn’t miss that appointment would you? At the end of the day, who is most important; you or your number 1 client? Achieving your vision, growing your business living the life you want, will only ever be a pipe dream if you keep cancelling appointments with yourself.
So there you have it, how to put together a compelling business improvement and growth plan.
Simple, yet not necessarily easy.