Sunday, November 21, 2010

Planning for Success

I am changing the name of business planning to planning for success. When I start to talk about business planning, people begin to get anxious or they glaze over. Very few get that sparkly interested look in their eye and really engage. I’ve discovered that there is a fear of business planning, mostly because business planning is foreign and unfamiliar territory. I’ll bet that when I start talking to people about planning for success, they will respond in a more open fashion, be curious and want to engage.

No matter what industry you’re part of, I’m sure that you have encountered ideas and concepts that are misunderstood. Business planning….ummmm…..planning for success is like that too. Many people say that their plan is in their head. And what there is of it may well be, but there are usually many missing elements. Just by articulating it and getting it onto paper, you provide yourself with the opportunity to read it back to yourself and see if it makes sense to you. This gives you the chance to improve on it, before mistakes are made and bad decisions have cost you a ton of money and time. No one wakes up and says. “Today I am going to make bad business decisions.” Yet, if you don’t actively engage in business planning…..ummm….planning for success….in a committed fashion, you have elected to make ill-informed decisions that may be devastating to your business.

Another misconception is that a business plan becomes a doorstop when it’s completed, or that it gets put onto the back of a deep dark shelf somewhere never to see the light of day again. Still others think that once the plan is completed that they must follow it exactly. Neither of these is correct. A businesss plan….ummmm….plan for success… a living document, just as your business is a living entity of its own. Going through the process of developing a plan gives you a process to follow again in the future as you consider new products, services and markets. Reviewing your plan quarterly allows you to spot variations in your projections. This gives you the time to evaluate whether your initial assumptions were off base, and if so what else is affected as you move forward. If your initial assumptions were correct, you can determine what is needed to get back on track. And as time moves forward the environment may change in ways that couldn’t have been predicted (September 11, for example). This is a good time to redirect your plan accordingly.

After you’ve been through the business planning….ummmm…planning for success process once, you’ll appreciate the new contacts and resources that have become acquainted with. You’ll also know what steps to take when you are considering complicated business decisions in the future. With a step-by-step process, you can build a solid foundation for your business and take the first steps towards success.