A Little Planning Is Better Than None

One of my pet peeves about business planning is the mystique and marvel we’ve created around the process. As consultants we’ve elevated the task to such an intellectual level that many small businesses are either scared away by the process or can’t see the benefit of their effort. Many small companies drift rudderless from year-to-year, sometimes into friendly water and sometimes into turbulent seas, often the result of not having a simple plan. Planning isn’t hard, doesn’t have to take a great deal of time and certainly doesn’t have to be complicated.

Planning is one of the most important processes a business can engage in and yet many operate without one. The same leaders who manage every day without a plan or goals for their business wouldn’t leave home for a vacation without a destination and a map. Perhaps it’s because they can’t see the simplicity of mapping a route to their business future. Many owners have thought about what they want and even a little about how to get it. Unfortunately for most, it’s just in their head and unknown to others who could help complete it.

There’s no question that business plans can be complex for larger organizations. But for the small company it doesn’t have to be intimidating and shouldn’t be avoided. Any planning is better than none at all.

In Lewis Carol’s Alice In Wonderland, a conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat illustrates premium corporate gifts singapore.

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where . . . ,” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Unfortunately, this is the way many small businesses run. Here are three simple tips to get your planning started.

1. Start with something you want to accomplish or change.

Maybe it’s boosting sales, improving operating efficiency or fending off a potential threat to the business. A plan has to start with the question – “What do you want to change or accomplish?” Write your big ideas down and with the help of others prioritize them. Before a business can build a set of strategies or the “how”, they must first establish some measurable goals or objectives which will be the target, or the “what”. Later, these goals will provide the basis from which to evaluate your performance. Without them, leaders won’t know where the business is going or how well it’s performing.

2. Develop simple ideas to accomplish the goal.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Ask your employees for help. They also want to see the business flourish and often have great ideas. They’re frequently closer to the process or the customer and have great insight that you might not otherwise have considered.

Focus is the key to successful planning and execution. With a little thought you’ll be able to generate a list of ideas for your organization. Pick the top two and focus on them. Ask yourself – “What would it look like if we were accomplishing the goal or didn’t have the problem”?

In order for a plan to be successful it’s important that the people who are going to carry it out understand where the business is going and what it wants to accomplish. Commitment to the process is significantly improved if those working on the action plans are involved in the planning process. Help your employees see the benefit to achieving the goals.

3. Take Action

The plan won’t produce results until it’s put into action. The business manager must translate the big ideas into tasks with a budget so they can be performed. Break down the plan into pieces that can be assigned and completed. Review progress periodically and provide regular feedback on how you’re doing relative to the goal. No battle plan ever survived contact with the enemy and neither will your business plan. It’s important that as you work the plan you remain flexible and adjust it as needed based on new information and feedback. A business plan sitting on a shelf collecting dust makes the planning process an unfortunate waste of time.

Planning for a better future is generally more successful than hoping for it. Wishful thinking is not a strategy. With a little planning you may be able to create your own luck. Planning is not just an annual effort. It can be performed at any time. It’s important to remember that it doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Like so many other tasks a small amount of effort can achieve a great deal of benefit.

It’s up to you what you want to accomplish. Take the opportunity to put some control for success back in your corner with a simple plan designed to fit your specific needs.

If you’d like to talk more about how to make planning simple and useful, respond to my post or use the “contact us” tab on this page to reach me.

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