No-one goes into business planning to fail – do they? I was reading some quotations yesterday and one from Michael Gerber really got me thinking,
“Why is it that with all the information available today on how to be successful in small business, so few people really are?”
In this enlightened communications age, we have all the answers and advise on business best practice easily accessible, yet we still blunder headlong into the unknown with the kiwi catchphrase “she’ll be right mate” on hand to justify our lack of direction.
The old saying fail to plan, plan to fail is unnervingly accurate in business and sadly a primary factor in the failure or failed potential of many ventures. All the information in the world is of little use to anyone unless it is verified, filtered, and recorded in an easy to reference and easier to follow the road map.
If you have had the good fortune to be CEO of a large business organisation that trained and networked with a wide cross-section of the business community you’d still be a valuable business mentor, to start-ups and businesses run by managers lacking experience.
So digging deep into what makes a successful business tick, what does it take for a thriving business stand out?
Far from being mediocre, they know their business inside and out and more importantly, they know their customers!
Simply put they have a strategy (Direction) and a business plan (Actions) that supports their customers’ needs. Sustainable growth and development can only be achieved by structured and formal planning that is committed to paper and revisited often.
Many businesses may have done a token business plan during the start-up phase to appease their bank manager or accountant, this they would have then filed and never given a second glance. Even fewer have even contemplated, yet attempted a formal strategic planning process, dismissing this as something done by “big business”.
Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) employ the most people everywhere by the sheer volume of entities. Being smaller than the large enterprises in many ways is their key advantage insofar as start-ups and SMEs can react to the market, consumer, fiscal and environmental changes much quicker than the larger operators.
Change can be seen by some as threatening and challenging, but executed correctly it is an opportunity. This can only be realised or even contemplated when business finances, processes and staffing are carefully monitored, evaluated and maintained in readiness for this opportunity.
Business Plan vs Strategic Plan
Writing a business plan is different from strategic planning. A business plan is developed when something new is proposed – a business or a product/service line within a business. The strategy looks to growth while business planning looks to beginnings.
Without a strategy, your business has no direction. While strategic planning shouldn’t be all you do in your business, it should be an integral part of it.
Every action taken should fit with the direction you want the business to go – so every action should be in alignment with your strategy. That means every employee knows the strategy and understands their part in making it happen – and in helping change it if that is needed.
No strategy should be set in stone. It needs to be revisited and revised at regular intervals, again related to how quickly your industry is changing.
It is not possible to do justice to the right and wrongs of the planning process. The message here is planning must be done and better to do it sooner than later. Search online or seek the advice of professionals to assist you through the strategic planning process.
Don’t you think it is better to do know exactly what you have and need to grow your business than forge ahead and invest in initiatives that without direction fail to deliver the results you need?