Plan to Plan

1/30/2014

Have you completed your business plan for 2014? There are valid and reasonably obvious reasons why a plan is essential to a successful enterprise:

ONE.

It provides you (your company and employees) with a direction and a criteria to judge progress and success.

TWO.

Without a business plan, it is a 100% certainty that a company can’t exist without a long-term vision.

But successful, experienced, business people truly believe the biggest benefit of a proper business plan is none of the above. They would maintain that the most significant and important events with either a career or a business are totally unexpected.

Think about your own career or business. Has it developed exactly as you expected? Were there not, in fact, some pretty significant unexpected twists that got you to where you are today? So if the big and important stuff is unplanned why have a business plan at all? The real benefit of a business plan is that it will enable you to recognize and capitalize on unexpected opportunities.

A number of years ago a service company, in formulating its annual plan, made a decision that they would make a foray into the automotive market. They set aside appropriate resources and started to make some painful internal changes to accommodate the anticipated additional business. Unexpectedly, they were asked to make a proposal for an assignment in the financial sector. Needless to say that while it wasn’t the direction that they had intended to pursue, they quickly pounced on the opportunity, won the assignment and grew their revenue significantly higher than the projected revenue in the automotive segment. In assessing the unexpected event that got them the business, the President of the company stated: “The financial sector opportunity was about as far away from the automotive sector as any of us could imagine. But our annual plan had made it very clear that we had to make some changes if we were to grow our business. Without the discipline of the annual plan and its indicated actions, we would not have been in a position to take advantage of a very significant opportunity when it presented itself.”

GETTING STARTED … IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK

The most difficult part of any business plan is getting started – making the personal commitment to put a plan in place. But once you acknowledge the need for a plan, where do you start? What do you do next?

The good news is that in today’s business world there are more resources and help available to you than ever before. There are excellent books, inexpensive (and expensive consultants) and even readily available, user friendly software. Any one or a combination of resources will get those thoughts out of your head and on to paper.

Building an annual plan does take some time and effort… but less than you think and the benefits are significant. At the conclusion of the annual plan exercise, you will have a greater understanding of problems and opportunities, better clarity as to what has to happen next and will find yourself poised for even greater but unanticipated success.


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