Before the Crash we had time to reflect on how business was going. We borrowed regularly from the bank and we had to write the obligatory business plan. We wrote it but with all that has happened and deep in the survival mode of the past few years it’s been hard to try to stay focused on developing business. The plan was supposed to help the business grow wasn’t it?
Most Owner/Managers start out in life as technically skilled people. We bring a particular skill set to the businesses we found. But that skill set can only take a business so far; and then the business tends to plateau. Sometimes this is because the owner has run out of ideas or enthusiasm, more often it is that we haven’t planned the business but have just lived the dream. We did a lot of that in the tiger years. Now, with new eyes we know that taking the business to the next level requires an action plan. A business plan!
So back to our scenario: You delivered the business plan, borrowed the money, went back to the office and carefully filed away the document. In most cases that’s the last time it saw the light of day. Why do we get this far so often… and then, fail to follow through on it.
Imagine 6 months (or 6 years) down the road you Re-View the plan; you look at it again and measure and see… did I do what I said I would? That was a rather good idea; I am smarter than I thought; why didn’t I implement that one…
The difference is in the outcomes. The Plan needs:
- Clearly itemised actions to deliver the productivity
- Targets and measuring points all along the way
- Budgets aimed at delivering the projections.
This plan is designed to be a strategic tool in growing the business. It gets looked at on a weekly or even daily basis. It has tick boxes and milestones. It should spur you into action, but not just any action.
Busy-ness is not the same as business. A good plan spurs you on to targeted actions with achievable, measurable results.
So, what are the fruits of a well executed business plan?
- More profitability for less time or cash invested (a better return on investment)
- Happier Customers, leading to good publicity, referral business and increased profits
- Growth in Turnover, Margins and Profits
All these elements have one thing in common. PROFITABILITY Are we not in business to make a profit? If that is the case then why would we hide one of our most important tools in a filing cabinet?
We are like a small boy going fishing but we left the worms at home. We have the rod and the net but no bait – so any fish we catch will be pure luck. The kid with the worms has a significantly better chance of catching his supper both faster and more often.
If you don’t have a plan, you are just drifting. If you do have a plan – but don’t measure where you are in relation to that plan – you are travelling blind! You had better hope you are lucky!
Nobody knows your business, your customers, your products better than you. So dust off that plan, have a look at its elements and see what you can learn from your best teacher. YOU.