While a business plan has its purposes (bank financing among them), an inspired, action-oriented success plan will prove to be far more effective. They key is to set inspiring goals and identify the strategies (actions), to complete them and then set a time-frame for completion. Don’t forget to incorporate ownership for critical tasks and measurements to evaluate success. When it comes to planning, consider the words of General George Patton, ‘A weak plan that is executed will deliver better results than a great plan never executed.’ Sometimes simple is sophisticated. Other factors to consider when preparing your success plan are:
Look Back Before You Plan Ahead. Know where you are today before you start planning where you want to go. Look at your financials and key performance indicators. How do they compare against your last year goals and your industry? Then take a few minutes to write down your accomplishments (big and small) for the previous twelve months or last quarter. It’s important that you recognise the things you did well. Finally, make a short list of the things you didn’t accomplish and ask yourself what held you back and what lessons did you learn. Don’t dwell on these, but apply lessons learned as you move forward.
Chunk, Chunk, Chunk. Big goals are nothing more than a series of much smaller ones. If a goal you want appears too big to conquer or takes a long time to accomplish, chunk it up into smaller ones over shorter time periods. For example, a business sets a goal to reduce employee turnover by a certain percentage within twelve months. To accomplish this, they may have 5-10 goals and strategies they will employ, including communicating business goals, implementing monthly team meetings, creating effective job descriptions, developing team incentive or performance bonus program, creating a strong recruiting and hiring process, etc. These smaller goals and strategies are much easier to handle and together will move them to the bigger goal.
Think Big. It pays to think big when setting goals. The old saying ‘shoot for the stars and if you fall short you will hit the moon’ explains why. Often we set ‘safe’ goals because we fear failure or simply can’t figure out how we can get there. Sure it’s safe to set a 5% growth or improvement goal — but what if you chose instead a 30% improvement and asked for advice on how. Employees, alliances, suppliers, other business owners and yes a business coach are all great sources for new ideas, but you need to ask. What if you fall a little short and only grow 20%? You are still better off than you would have been with a 5% improvement! So think big and believe you can.
Measure, Measure, Measure. Would you ever play a round of golf and not keep score? Not likely, because you want to know if you improved or beat your previous best. The same is true in business. If we don’t link measurements to our goals, we have no way to evaluate how we are doing. What we measure, we can improve. So what types of things should you measure and track? Revenue, gross profit margins, fixed expenses and net profit are obvious and most owners track these. Most businesses have other factors that drive their success. Depending on your goals, industry and type of business, these will vary. Here are a few examples of some common Key Performance Indicators: number of leads, sales conversion rate, average £ sale, gross margin, customer and employee satisfaction ratings and labour as a % of sales.
Make it exciting and share it with your team?
An exciting goal is a motivating goal. How much more energy do you have when you are working towards something that you really want to achieve rather than some dull old target? Also if your team are equally motivated by the goal then how much easier is it if you all work together to achieve it? Being an open and honest business owner will build trust and commitment from your team and enable you to make progress far quicker than taking on the responsibility all on your own.
So ditch that dull boring business plan and create an inspired, action plan for success!!