I believe you have to plan for success and just as Harvey MacKay once quoted ‘If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’.
I know there are some sceptics out there who are not convinced that having a strategic plan or a business plan is vital to building a successful business. Whilst there are a few exceptions, the majority of entrepreneurs or small business owners find success out of perseverance, focus and a lot of hard work. Having a plan in place ensures that you remain focused on outcomes that are going to build the path towards sustainable success for your business. Without focus, you are often trying to be everything to everyone and you are investing time in activities that aren’t going to add value and ultimately convert to profitable outcomes. All businesses need to ensure they have a strategic plan in place and that the entire team are all clear on the bigger picture and why.
Within your business plan you must put clear goals, targets and measures in place. Having plans in place is great in theory, but if you don’t have specific measures in place to allow you to track your progress and success across all areas of your business, then these plans mean very little. Make yourself and your team accountable. Track your progress by developing visuals that you can put on the wall that show your measures, your targets and the reality of where you are at. Don’t just make your KPI’s financial as this drives the wrong behaviours long term in your business. It is important to add measures for all areas of your business including engagement on social media, the number of speaking engagements and thought leadership article features or client satisfaction survey results. They should link to the key pillars in your business ranging from financial to clients, marketing, systems and processes and others. Tracking your progress every month is a great way to stay motivated and persist as you follow the positive trends in what you measure.
Ideally, I would recommend all business and strategic plans should be reviewed and revised at least every 12 months. To maintain accountability, it is also essential that every member of the team (including yourself) has a 90 day action plan in place with their 5 key actions listed and that they are aligned with your strategic plan. What I love about 90 day plans is that if everyone in your team achieves their 5 key actions, then cumulatively that is an impressive number of items that you would have implemented within your organisation!
Finally, I would just like to highlight that having a business plan doesn’t mean that this defines exactly what you have to do for the next 12 months. What it does do is keep you focused on your goal and allows you to track how you are going to get there. It is a journey and things will change along the way, but at least with a business plan you have a map to guide you in the right direction. Throughout your journey many opportunities will present themselves, and most will just distract you from your end goal, so put your plans in place, share them with your team, track your progress and watch your business grow.
You can always take the chance that your business will grow and be successful just by flying by the seat of your pants, I’m sure we all know people who have done this. But the odds are that if you don’t plan, you will fail. So why not plan and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed. You can’t hit a target you cannot see and neither can your team!