Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Do You (or Should You) Do Your Business Planning?

Also called your strategic plan … your business plan is generally done prior to going in business and involves a lot of marketing research and forecasts...often used to obtain funding.

Your strategic plan is about how to get where you want to go. It includes your organization's Vision, Mission and cultural statement as well as goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to get from Point A to Point B. A good plan usually covers 3-5 years and should be a living, breathing document providing focus, but that allows for changes in direction should opportunities or threats arise.

If you’ve had training in the process you can do your own planning. But, it depends on your company, its size, if you have someone on staff who can handle the process, etc. You should review your plan quarterly to assure you are on schedule and on track, and each year, review the plan and update it for the coming year (drop out the completed portions and add new ones to keep you moving forward).

It is alarming how few people create plans for their success, isn't it? Instead, they spend their time running in circles and putting out fires all the time.

I am amazed how many people spend weeks planning their vacations, but never set aside time to plan the year(s) for their business or life. I also see the opposite, people who over complicate their strategic planning and get overwhelmed and discouraged in the process.

I believe your plan should excite you. It should make it clear how to reach the goals you set out to achieve.

Without a planning road map you will not know what it will take to achieve success, nor will you know what success looks like; therefore, the likelihood of success is , at best, minimal.

The first step in developing a business plan is to understand what these plans are supposed to achieve. A good business plan should provide detailed guidelines, objectives and action that will enable you to:

1. deliver a product that satisfies the customer
2. become more efficient than your competition
3. become more profitable

Remember that it is a team process …. Get your leadership team involved and get feedback from your employees. Just as important it requires regularly scheduled reviews (e.g. quarterly).

For more detailed information including examples to help you craft your own quality business plan …. check out the links listed in the left side menu.