I’d like to take you back to a time in your life when you were probably much younger, where the world was your oyster and your curiosity was to take you too many far-flung places on the planet. As a young person it was great to be able to take off and be free and not know where you might end up on this journey of discovery. However, as we’ve got older, with more responsibilities including families and other people who were going to accompany us, we had to learn the importance of good planning to ensure that everybody arrived at the correct destination and on time.
Business is a journey, a journey that many of us take but unfortunately so many do not have a clear destination in mind. We set off on a course not sure where it will take us because the experience is new and we have so much to learn. We presume that the destination will become more clear as we navigate the challenges of everyday business life but seldom have we the time to actually sit down and consider in detail what perhaps the next three or five years look like. It’s my experience that many business owners have some rough idea or notions in their mind, for example, be a millionaire at 30 or retire at 50 but that is as far as they get.
We already know from our personal lives the value of planning something as simple as a holiday and your business journey can be made that simple if you follow some basic steps.
1. Ask yourself the key question what does my business look like in three years time or perhaps five years time and include metrics such as income, profit, employee numbers, products, services etc. and write out as much detail as you can.
2. Now put on paper where you are now using the same metrics that you used in section one.
3. We’ve now established the gap and we also know the time period so what are the pieces that are missing, preventing us getting from where we are now to where we want to go? We may need to employ more resources like people or perhaps we need more sales or cash or perhaps we need more equipment. Identify clearly what you would need to take you from where you are now to where you wish to go and make a list of them.
4. Create a Strategic Plan based on what you need to do in a planned way to get you to what I call your destination ‘Success’. This will probably be a journey taken in stages but can be fast tracked if you have the right resources around you. (get your FREE Strategic Plan checklist by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org ). Please remember that you will have other people helping you with this journey, employees, clients/customers and suppliers and that is why good communications around vision and mission are important so that everyone can play their part.
5. Now go on your planned journey and record the progress. Check the metrics you identified at the beginning and make the necessary adjustments in your SWOT Analysis. It helps to have someone hold you accountable and to be at your side as you encounter stumbling blocks on the road but with a clear vision and written plan you can reach your destination.
One of the reasons I hear most often as an excuse for not having a written plan is that “I do not have the time to do it”. This is counter productive as the more planning you have in place, the more time you find available. I took on a new client recently and after two sessions identified how to free up two hours per day. In fact I have done that for every client as part of my service and once you see how it can be done, it makes perfect sense.
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