A Business Plan is Essential for Success
By Jeffrey Foley, Consultant, Loral Mountain
I am surprised these days when I come across business owners who have no business plans – no strategy for what they are building or where they want to go. Do you fall into this category?
Many leaders have little experience in the actual planning process – and hence avoid it. Cases where companies have succeeded without a plan are the exceptions. Whatever the reason, failing to plan for the future will most likely result in an organization failing to achieve its full potential.
There are many excuses for not having a business plan. We all have probably experienced one or more of them – I know I have. They include such things as: no time to do it, no one knows how to write it, no one reads it, it’s too hard, it’s not fun, don’t know what a good plan looks like, they are obsolete by the time they are completed, it’s never used, and perhaps the most important one, no one has seen one actually work effectively.
Considering the length of our daily “to-do” lists, when we are confronted with writing a business plan we seem to take the same approach we do when considering buying life insurance – we avoid it.
But there is absolute real value in creating a business plan if done right. I have seen very effective plans have a profound impact on the success of organizations.
The great leadership books written today all have a chapter on planning for the future, highlighting the need to focus on those critical goals that will enable the business to be successful.
Plans crystallize our thinking about the future. They describe what the organization is trying to build. They create awareness of the issues and challenges of the environment. They help us focus on the key priorities of the organization in achieving different or greater results. They provide a sense of direction that enables alignment by everyone in the organization. They help us make critical resource decisions and help establish systems of accountability. They also help others take us seriously.
Having led and participated in strategic planning for many years, I value good methodologies that can help achieve success for busy executives and business owners. Over the past several years, I have been searching for the right solution – and I found a great one.
The tool I discovered is profound in its simplicity and its ability to help just about anyone create a plan in a relatively short period of time. The process has five distinct parts, each with a series of questions that helps the user fill in the key elements of what an effective plan requires. The process fits all types of organization: for-profit, non-profit, small/medium/large companies.
More than 10,000 plans have been created over the past decade using this process. The summary of the plan is captured on a single page – yes, a single page! There is important information behind the one page for sure – especially when capturing measurable objectives.
Think about what you can achieve for your business with a focused, well-crafted and effective plan for the future! Think about what the process can do for developing your people, both in the team building aspect as well as development of leaders in identifying goals and establishing accountability.
Failing to plan is, ultimately, planning to fail.
Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else.”
We all plan for the future in our families – kids to college, buying a house, financial stability in our retirement years. We should do the same for our businesses. The bottom line is the plan helps you gain control of the future.
On October 19 at the B2B Business Expo I will be introducing my recommended solution for business planning during my keynote presentation. I will share the key elements of the plan and describe how it works. It promises to be an engaging learning experience for those who attend.
Becoming a better leader is a journey. I wish you the best!
Jeffrey W. Foley is a Certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered coach, leadership consultant and author. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his web site is loralmountain.com.