Have you ever heard the saying “Failure to plan is planning to fail”? How about this one: “Hope is not a strategy”? Well, I talk to business owners every day and I’d say that about 90% of them run their businesses without a plan, just hoping that their businesses will get better. Good luck with that!
Running your business without a plan is one of the top reasons for the lack of growth, poor profit, frequent fires, customer problems, long hours and stress that plague so many small-business owners. So even if this sounds like Business 101 to you, you need a plan.
Running your business with a plan focuses your limited time, money and resources on the things that will make the biggest impact on your business and helps you stop doing the hodgepodge of activities that don’t matter.
When I say you need a plan, I’m not talking here about a 20-page business plan. What you need is a vision of what you want to achieve and a well-thought-out series of steps you are going to take to help you achieve your vision. Imagine building your dream home without a vision and a plan. The result would be disastrous! And the same thinking applies to your business.
In fact, creating a plan is the first thing I do with my coaching clients. And if you develop and follow your plan it can help you achieve almost miraculous results! I have a client, for example, with a $2.5 million business, who was working 90 hours a week in an inefficient business and making no profit for all of her efforts. We created and implemented a simple plan to improve her business, and in less than eight months she achieved a six-figure profit and was working fewer than 55 hours a week! That’s the power of a plan.
If you don’t have a plan, now is the perfect time to develop one and start using it. You don’t need to wait until the beginning of the year.
So pick up a pencil or hop on your computer and follow the steps I’ve laid out below.
When you’re done, you will have a simple but powerful plan that will help you break through and establish your business at the next level.
Create Your Business Vision and Goals
The first thing I want you to do is close your eyes for a second (I mean after you read this!) and imagine what you really want your business to be a year from now or at the end of 2014. How big do you want it to be? How much profit will you make? What is your ideal job description in your business? What kind of life will you have when all the things you just described are reality?
Be bold and dream a little. Make it a stretch and something that you’re excited about. Write it down. Great!
There is huge power in visualizing what you want. The more clearly you can picture it, the more you are likely to want it and to make it happen. Defining your 2013/2014 vision will also clarify actions you will need to take to get there.
Take an Honest Look at Where You Are Today
Now take a look at where you are today compared to where you want to go. What sales and profits have you achieved so far? What do you spend your time doing in your business? How do you feel about your team and the services you deliver? Write this down too. Good!
With a Beginning Point and Vision, Start to Map Out Your Breakthrough Plan
First, break your goals down by month (quarters will work too), so that you have a clear path to follow to get you to where you want to go.
Next, think through the questions below to help you identify the actions you will need to take to achieve your goals:
What obstacles do you see along the way? What will you need to do to overcome them?
What are the most pressing challenges for you right now? How will you handle them?
What things do you know you need to do in your business but haven’t gotten around to?
What adjustments do you need to make to what you are currently doing?
What is missing for you in getting to where you want to go? What help do you think you will need in order to move you forward? Where will you get it?
By now, a clearer picture should be developing of what you’ll need to do to create your successful business. If not, talk to your peers, employees, consultants or coaches for ideas.
Take all the ideas that we’ve generated here and:
Pick the ones that you think will make the biggest difference in reaching your goals or overcoming your challenges. These ideas will form the basis of your plan. I suggest that you pick no more than three or four key priority improvement areas to focus on per quarter. Any more than that will likely overwhelm you and keep you from getting anything done! If you don’t know how to resolve your challenges, get help.
Also, look at everything you have on your plate and get rid of any activities that aren’t working or aren’t focused on your goals. If they aren’t adding value, stop doing them! The more things that you can say no to and take off your plate, the more you’ll be able to focus on the critical few things that will propel your business forward.
Now Write It All Down, Ideally on One Page
Summarize your plan: where you are today, where you want to be by the end of 2014 and the steps you need to take to get there. If it looks like what you have planned won’t be enough, tweak your plan until it feels right.
You have now created a breakthrough plan for building your business. Congratulations!
Time to Start Implementing
Your plan is no good unless you follow it. You know that! So it is critical that you schedule time in your calendar to implement your plan. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you aren’t self-motivated enough to get it done on your own, get a coach, friend or peer to hold you accountable to take action. It can make a huge difference.
Finally, I suggest that you check your progress at the end of each month. And at the end of each quarter take a two-hour timeout to check and take stock of where you are now, appreciate your successes, identify areas needing improvement and make course corrections to your plan. Evaluating and adjusting your plan keeps you on track and maximizes your chances you achieving your goals. It’s like a GPS system that recalculates when you make a wrong turn to ensure you get to your destination. Schedule these sessions now. They are a critical ingredient to successfully achieving your plan. Really!
I think that you’ll be surprised at the huge power this simple plan can have in helping you breakthrough to the next level and creating the business you want.
Have fun with it! APC
Bill Silverman is the owner of Springboard Business Coaching. He is dedicated to helping you propel your business to the next level of growth and profit while working less. He can be reached at (856) 751-1989 or firstname.lastname@example.org.