How effective is your business planning approach?

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Sometimes it can be harder to express yourself on just one page, but it will be worth it.

 

Keep it simple so others will understand.

Most businesses have a planning system that is totally inadequate. A plan either doesn’t exist or it is far too complicated.  The majority of organisations and leaders don’t need a 100-page business plan that sits on a shelf in a corner office somewhere collecting dust never again to see the light of day.

Today most finance people are more concerned about you as a person than your business plan. If they don’t like you, nothing will happen. If they do like you then they will simply ask you for the details they want.

In the first approach to planning, simplicity is good. You need a clear on-page business plan that outlines:

  1. Your purpose, vision and the critical objectives you have.
  2. The strategies and action you will take to reach your objectives.
  3. The rest your will be asked for as any relationship

To support your business plan you might spend time on making sure you are ‘Investor Ready’. However, this is a stage you can go through once you have your initial plan in place as it will help to improve your chances of success.

 

“In order for your planning to be effective, it needs to be treated as an important aspect of your regular business meetings, not an afterthought”.  Peter Sergeant

 

People used to tell me that I was a good planner. Why? Because I had a good spreadsheet that I used to do by hand. It was the time it took to produce it that made me do the thinking required, but I always felt it was inadequate. Where were the electronic spreadsheets in the 60s and 70s?

When I first became interested in planning most people I spoke with in corporations and government thought planning was all about numbers. It’s not. Planning requires both numbers and words if it is to be effective. The words in our one-page plan are the key to setting the correct direction and expectations.

When you have clearly enunciated your purpose, vision, mission and objectives. This should give you a clear picture of the future you aspire to, and allow you to align all the activities of the business to focus on that future. Without this clarification, you will continue to struggle and your aspirations will not materialise, or if they do, not quickly enough.

If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualise your future, then you will allow others to shape and control your destiny.

One thing I do know is that every time you look at your one-page plan in the future you will make some changes. Even the use of a new word can influence your thinking and the actions you take. Try allocating a time each week to review and update your the plan with your team, adjusting it to the prevailing market conditions and refocusing activities accordingly.

 

 

[read more=”Personal Experience” less=”Personal Experience”]

Personal Experience:

I can still remember some of the original plans I was involved with as an advisor for businesses and non-profit organisations. The meetings were inspirational but the eventual outcomes were not up to my expectations.

All too often business plans that have been created, often at great expense, are left in a drawer or sit on a shelf collecting dust. I find the reason for this is that the people involved never really understood the value of a dynamic business plan.

I used to run business planning workshops that lasted five days. While everyone in the workshops became more excited about their business, the plans they produced were too complex for them to implement quickly enough to maintain the enthusiasm.

I once had a senior person, from a large international corporation, bring along his business plan for a new division they had started. There were seven volumes involved. There was a need for a totally different approach, but there was no time and resources available for me to do anything about it. The division was closed three months later, nobody had time to read the plan, let alone implement it.

It didn’t take me long to simplify my approach in order to keep people involved in the process and derive tangible benefits from it. The message is to keep it simple so people can simply understand, you can become more complex as the business moves forward and you have more time and money available for planning.

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