BIZTALK: Why failing to plan really is planning to fail
Naomi Simson joins News Mail as a guest columnist for our latest series, Business Class.
"IF YOU don't know where you are going, any road will get you there," Lewis Carroll.
If you don't have a plan how will you know when you've been successful? Planning in business is often a neglected piece of the puzzle, but it is essential if you want to be successful and share that success with your people.
To have a common goal is a uniting force. That's why I invite you to view planning as a constructive and enjoyable process. When you have benchmarks for success your plan becomes a living document what will continue to evolve; capturing new information and insights as you and your teams progress. (Ideally presented succinctly on one page).
A business plan is a description of your future. When read by others this plan will provide a clear view of the direction and commercials of your enterprise.
The document outlines what you plan to do and how you plan to do it; what it is likely to cost and what the likely return on that cost will be.
Depending on the audience of the plan, the detail you require may shift. For example, if the plan is intended for securing bank finance it is likely to be a fairly lengthy document, covering every element of the business. There are a number of templates available online to help you with the structure.
But a very simple plan to help you build a 'process' for growth is to produce a one page strategic plan. Imagining a one-page strategic plan that represents your direction for the next 30 years is a great exercise for getting you focused on what is truly important.
A one page strategic plan has three critical components:
A clearly articulated vision: If people know what they are there to do and are aligned with the vision, engaging the team becomes a much simpler task.
Know the numbers/metrics that drive success: These are not always the obvious ones of debtor's days or revenue per person. For the Big Red Group it was about finding the number that also encapsulated our vision.
Have a communication 'rhythm': I never thought that process would set us free, but we saved time by knowing where and when we were meeting with whom. Team huddles and one-on-one meetings are a great way to cascade information and ensuring everyone is on the same page.
I believe knowing these steps is one thing, but delivering on it is something completely different. So take a look at different approaches and work out which one fits best for you.
Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities. But it is not a static document. Reviewing it regularly is as important as creating it in the first place. You want to get to a future point of success, a point at which time your business will have a different set of resources, abilities and momentum - as well as greater profitability and increased worth. Your plan shows how you will get from here to there. But it's also important to have fun doing it.
Naomi Simson is the founder of RedBalloon, and the co-founder of The Big Red Group, the third largest experience marketplace in the world. She is the author of two best sellers, Live What You Love and Ready To Soar, and appeared on Shark Tank for four seasons. In this series we present some of her key learnings on how she grew her businesses.