The biggest problem I see with most businesses is also the most obvious, and in many ways the easiest to fix: the owner doesn’t have a documented plan of where the business is going that they refer to and revise.
You may have an idea of what you want to achieve, but chances are it’s trapped inside your head instead of being clearly defined and articulated for all to see. Without a plan, when things get tough (and they will) it’s too easy to fall back into bad habits such as short-term thinking, going conservative, or reverting to being a control freak.
You may be a brilliant communicator, but your team will not buy into your plan if it’s not visible and consistent. Nor will the business benefit from the direction provided by the plan. Without a robust plan, you’ll become too caught up in the doing and lose sight of where you’re going.
I can’t overstate the importance of having a documented strategy. You need a clear idea of where you are and where you want to be so you can develop a plan for how you’re going to get there, with short-term goals to keep you on track. And you need to revisit the plan regularly to factor in ever-changing circumstances and goalposts.
A plan greatly increases your chances of success, meaning you’ll fully realise all the hard work you’re putting in, both now, in the form of profit, and down the track, in the form of building a highly valuable asset.
You can’t own your business forever. Your plan should reflect your sell mindset and address your exit strategy. How will you exit? And how will you maximise your return?
You would expect a successful big business to conduct strategic planning, so why should it be any different for your business?
Many small businesses are built on a dream, an idea, a vision or a gap in the market they believe they can fill: I’m going to set up a funky coffee shop in this up-and-coming suburb/create a high-service transport business/start my own plumbing business, and I’m going to do it better than anybody else.
Typically, though, that’s where the strategic thinking stops.
When the business owners I meet do have a strategic direction, too often it just focuses on the financials. Now this may sound crazy coming from an accountant, but your financials should be the last thing you focus on. While they are hugely important and need constant monitoring, they are an outcome. You should first focus on the drivers of your business, making sure the right people deliver on your brand promise for your ideal customers. Do that and your financials will look after themselves.
If you’d like to develop a strategic plan for your business, contact Jason and his team via firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 8888 4000.