Year after year as a business coach, I talk to clients and prospective clients about business planning and strategy. Smart business-minded people see the value of planning and having clearly defined goals and objectives. As the saying goes “A goal without a plan is a just a dream”. Whilst it’s lovely to ‘dream’, there is little time (and resources) for small business owners to sit around dreaming. We need to have a clear strategy, focus and a clearly defined plan. As the business has become more competitive, business owners have had to learn to work smarter and more effectively. Small business (in my view) more than anyone, cannot afford to ‘muck around’, be without direction or simply ‘wing it’.
Why do we need business planning and strategy?
By having measurable goals we know what the expectations are. This is not only for the business owner but for the team as well. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, reporting and timely). I like to add an ER in the end – E for emotional. As a small business owner, we need to be passionate about the specific goal. If you are ‘meh’ about the goal, then I know from many years of experience as a business coach that that unemotional goal will likely never be achieved. The R I mentioned relates to resources. Our goals need to be tied in to a budget – both of time (people resources) and money. If the finances and budget cannot sustain the goal, then there really is no point.
Focus on your Direction
Every one of the team needs to be focussed on the same objective. If the business gives out mixed messages, then not only are staff confused, but very likely also clients and customers. If everyone within the business is pulling in a different direction, something (or someone) is likely to snap. Imagine you are driving to a location which is new to you. Without a map (road plan), we can take directions or tangents which distract us, put us in the wrong direction or waste our time by ending up in a dead-end path. When you know your direction, you can focus your resources, time, energy and passion in that correct direction.
Practicality – what are we doing?
It’s interesting; when someone is getting married, or perhaps going on a big holiday, they often have very detailed plans. However, often in business, there is no plan. The plan is as simple as get up in the morning, rock up to work and deal with the day. I’m in no way saying a holiday isn’t important, but for many of us, our business is one of our largest investments and assets, possibly only second to the family home. Why would you not plan to grow and protect that investment?
Moving from reactive to proactive
With strategy and a plan, you move from being reactive to proactive in your business. I know many decades ago when I started my first business, I had no plan. The first few years of success were, I believe, due mostly to good luck and some hard work. It probably helped that I was operating in a strong economy and well, you really had to do things wrong to fail. However, that changed and everything from staffing recruitment, to client growth, new services and new branches all were borne from strategy, planning and intention. When I opened my Melbourne office and had people saying to me “Oh, I’ve heard of you” that wasn’t luck … that was a well-delivered strategy which started a couple of years earlier.
Progress can be evaluated
Once you have written down goals, strategies and plans, then you can then begin monitoring your progress. You can see how you are progressing. If progress is below expectation, you can make a decision to either re-assess the expectation or insert further energy to achieve the goal. Many strong businesses will measure progress through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), budgets, targets and documented goals. At any point in the month, they will know if they are performing well or lagging behind. Doing well often motivates to do even more and if you know you’re close (by lacking a whisker) you (and your team) might just push that little bit harder to attain set goals.
You will attract the best of the best
A business which is disorganised and lacks strategy, focus and direction often shows that to anyone looking in. It may be the written message (or lack thereof), it may be how you do business initially with new clients, it may even be reputation. Quality clients will often shy away from such a business, plus also the quality employee will not come on board, or if they do, will often not stay long. They will become frustrated, annoyed and even disgruntled at how things operate. Without A-grade clients and team, how can a business be its absolute best? Why would any business want to settle for seconds? Provide an A-grade service (which incorporates strategy and planning) and you’ll get the clients and team that you deserve – those from the top shelf.
Increased market space, increased profitability and increased sustainability
With all the above, what does that mean? A more productive and effective business (which is targeted in the right way) is very likely going to have an increased market space. With more clients (and quality team) you’re very likely going to have increased profitability. As you do things right, this progresses with time and experience to become a business which is successful and sustainable. It’s these strong and sustainable businesses which stand the tides of time; whether it’s a strong economy or times are tough, these businesses will be around well beyond a few months or even a few years. These businesses will be monitoring trends, always aiming to exceed expectations and sit at the higher end of their industry benchmark.
What does the new decade herald for you?
Insanity is doing the same thing, in the same way, over and over and expecting a different result. Year after year clients come to me and wonder why things are not working. Every aspect of business is changing at warp 10. What worked in marketing a year ago may not work today. Acceptable time-lapses years ago won’t be tolerated today. Consumers expect things ‘yesterday’. Online reviews mean we can’t treat a customer poorly and think there will be no consequence. Even the most established company cannot say they don’t need a website. Change is here folks; the question is whether you want to get on board and make some positive change in your business and affect your own success … or simply stand still, watch the world pass you and wonder what the heck happened?
How can I help you?
Whilst I offer Business Planning Sessions all year round, now is a great time to seriously consider this. We look at big-picture goals, but more importantly what you want to achieve over the next year. What do you want to make happen in 2020? My planning sessions are based on strategy, goal setting and action steps to make things happen. These planning sessions are a stand-alone service but also work exceedingly well with my Australian business coaching. If you’d like to know more, or book in a session, I am operating over the December and January periods (except the week between Christmas and New Year). Call me on 0411 622 666 today – and make a difference for your tomorrow.