2020 was an unprecedented challenge and a reminder of how vulnerable our organisations can be. Working with business owners we discovered how much easier it was to help those who had a structured plan on paper. For those who had not, it took more time but we eventually got there, but, it poses a number of questions;
How well did you manage in 2020?
How well prepared are you for 2021?
Where are you and what could you do when it comes to planning?
We have all heard how important it is to have a Strategic Plan and yet most business owners only have some version of it in their head. In theory that sounds fine but in reality it creates many challenges particularly as you expand your business or perhaps face unprecedented circumstances. So why do so many people fail to get their plan on paper? In this article we will look at the barriers, the benefits and where to start.
The main barriers I hear consistently are;
We do not have the time
We don’t know where to start
There is no point as the plan will be out of date within three months
We don't have the resources
Let’s deal with the time concern first. Yes, you have to invest some time up front but in the long run it is hugely time efficient. Let me explain, you create a Strategic Plan for your business under a series of headings to cover a period, say the next three years, either on your own but more effectively if you have an experienced person working with you. Now you have not just a blueprint but a benchmark that you can review every three or six months depending on how volatile the market is. Imagine how much time you would save if you were to take out this document and compare the plan against what is actually happening.
My 40+ years working with business owners tells me that typically, most areas will need little or no work but you may come across an area that is way of course. Now you have the ability to focus on this with your team and benchmark the results when you review you plan at an appropriate date. You see it is a rolling plan that allows you to monitor, manage and adjust key areas of your business in a timely way. You may be unfortunate and have a number of key areas that are coming under pressure at the same time due to extradorinaiy circumstances such as a pandemic. The advantage of having numbers in place, KPI’s and other valuable information means that your ability to find a creative way out is greatly improved by the knowledge you have to hand.
The second issue identified by those who fail to create a Strategic Plan is that they don’t know where to start. The great news is that you have most of the information available but not in a structured way. What we do is gather the information across areas such as finance, sales, information technology, human resources, competitors, products/services, processes and systems to name but a few and lay it out to see what we have and what we need. We then structure this information in a way that delivers valuable insights into your organisation. In relation to the gaps we ask a series of questions that allow you to reflect on these areas and then build them into the document.
Imagine having a working plan for your business with some areas boxed off, other areas where issues are clearly identified and more importantly a plan in place to deal with them.
The third issue mentioned was that there is no point creating a plan that could be out of date within three months. This may be the case but if your sector is evolving that quickly then you need more than ever to be able to benchmark your organisation and manage the changes in a structured way. In reality, you will find that many areas of the plan remain constant with minor tweaks needed which allows you to focus on the most important and urgent issues that have the ability to eat into profits.
Finally, we don't have the resources - this is a complete fallacy as a Strategic Plan not only highlights areas of savings, it quickly identifies greater productivity which not only cover your investment but in most cases return multiples of it.
This is a great time of the year to begin this process as it prepares you for the New Year and what that may bring. If you would like to know more then perhaps a confidential, no obligations 30 minute conversation will certainly help you. Why not schedule a call on our system or email me firstname.lastname@example.org and take the first step to a more organised, focussed and profitable 2021.