Posted: 4/12/2014 3:45:38 PM by
As a business owner, the Christmas break, and with it the Aussie summer holiday, is a time for thinking about the New Year, and what you’d like to achieve. Some great ideas may well come to you as you relax over the summer holiday, but let’s be clear: A couple of New Year’s resolutions does not make a business plan. Anyway, what’s your track record for actually achieving those ‘resolutions’?
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A great business plan is a document that inspires action - not just action from the person who creates it, but for everyone in the business. A great business plan gives everyone clarity of:
· What the business objectives are, and
· How they contribute to them.
Far too often business leaders have great plans that exist entirely in their heads. They then assume that their people know the business objectives and often end-up frustrated when the behaviours and interactions of their staff are inconsistent with what they want to achieve. In our experience, the assumption that ‘everyone knows the plan’ causes at least half of the staff performance issues that frustrate managers. ‘People issues’ are nearly always ‘planning issues’.
1. Share the plan with everyone in the business.
Begin with the intention of sharing your plan with as many people as possible. Only from openly sharing the plan can you get others to help you achieve it. You therefore need to have the plan written down.
Things don’t have to be sugar coated or hidden. Be honest in your plan about where you are today and where you’d like to be. Ask questions of your team and be willing to have them help create the plan - and implement it.
2. Start with why your business exists in the first place.
Be clear of your business purpose. This takes courage, but it is very important in setting the foundations for action. Your business purpose is not your vision or mission statement; it is why your business exists at all. Be willing to reveal your own aspirations and values, it will enlighten others as to what is really important to you. Show them what you believe.
3. Remember, numbers never inspire.
We’ve been misled to believing that we’ll only get what we measure. The truth is that what we monitor is more important than what we measure. Setting targets that involve only hard metrics such as sales numbers, profit numbers, or even customer numbers is only useful for monitoring progress. They don’t inspire action – the inspiration comes from why those metrics matter in the first place. Think about what you really want to achieve and then try to describe what it feels like.
Far too many business plans are nothing more than a few Excel sheets and a SWOT analysis. An inspirational plan keeps the numbers to the end and demonstrates why they matter. A SWOT analysis is a useful tool for situational awareness, but if there is no action for anyone arising from it then what is the point?
4. State specifically what you need to achieve.
Any plan takes energy to implement. To guide how everyone channels their own energy, specifically state the things that need to be done to achieve your objectives. Then, if you do have an annual planning day with your team, use that day to ask your people, “How do we do this?” This is a great way to get their buy-in to the plan – which is a critical success factor in making it happen.
5. Work out how you monitor progress.
Once you know what you need to do to achieve the business purpose, then you can then decide how to monitor your progress. Think about what you want to monitor and who should monitor it. This is the place for adding the business metrics. When deciding who should monitor, also make sure they have been given the authority to make decisions based on the action in the plan. The objective is to share the responsibility and accountability for achieving the plan.
These tips will help you create an inspiring plan. Edison said, “genius in one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” The trick is therefore to describe exactly what perspiration (action) is needed to achieve your objectives.
We believe that businesses achieve their highest performance when the people in them are inspired by a purpose, and have the autonomy to achieve it. Every great business culture starts with an inspiring plan. And it starts with you.