If you or your business seem to be running without direction or purpose, then right now would be a good time to get some clarity. As the year draws to a close and we get ready to ring in the new year, it’s a very good time to develop your business plan for the upcoming 12 months so that you hit the ground running in the new year.
Business planning should include a good balance of strategic thinking and execution planning. This is your opportunity to prepare your team for a successful year and connect strategy to execution. In order to plan for a successful year, you must have a good idea of the strategic direction you are moving in. Where do you want to be in the next 3–5 years and beyond?
Because strategic thinking is a process, not an event, there are a few strategic decisions you should be working on. This is how to know whether or not your business plan will take you from where you are to where you want to be.
And it starts by answering these four critical questions…
1) What Are Our Core Values and Purpose? This might seem like a “cliche” question, but it’s absolutely critical. After all, being a successful business owner is all about making good decisions based on your values and priorities, and the only way to do that is when you are crystal clear on what those values and priorities actually are.
Core values are the handful of rules that will remain constant over time and that you believe are key to the long-term success of your business. They already exist and are evident in the behaviour of individuals who represent the very heart of the organization. Discovering, understanding, and encouraging these core values will strengthen your company’s culture and provide a good foundation for every individual in the company to make decisions on a daily basis.
Understanding and reinforcing your core purpose will provide inspiration for people on a daily basis. People need to be inspired. They need to understand how their daily work connects to a greater good that is being served through the success of the company. Your core purpose will answer the question, “Why?”
2) What Are Our Dreams? This is what business growth strategist Verne Harnish calls your “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.” This is what you’re working toward. Similar to the first question, if you don’t have a fast, solid answer to this, you’ll constantly struggle with what to do and how to do it because you’ll have no idea where you’re going!
Your BHAG creates a vision of future success for your company. It should paint a picture of what things might look like 10–20 years from now when you have achieved this wildly ambitious, measurable goal. Your BHAG will also provide inspiration for your people and will create a framework for strategic decision-making.
3) What Makes Us Different? This is a question you must be able to answer if you expect to attract any customers at all. So, decide and articulate: What does your company promise that no one else does? What sets you apart in the marketplace? All else being equal, why should your customers and prospects choose you instead of your competitors?
Working on your brand promise will require you to identify and understand your core customer, your company’s core capabilities, and your unique position in the market. Having clarity around what is meaningful to your customers and what you promise to deliver will provide direction on internal improvement initiatives, marketing messages, and sales and delivery processes.
4) What Do We Need to Be Focusing on Now? This is where the rubber meets the road. Based on the “big picture” information you’ve gathered above, you must decide on the critical numbers (what I call Key Performance Indicators) you need to be focusing on during each quarter and year to reach your objectives. This can be more complicated to answer than the first three questions, but it is absolutely vital to the success of your long-term plan.
Included here are winning moves. These are specific, revenue-generating strategies you will execute over the next 3–5 years that have the potential to double your business. You could use this time in your annual planning session to brainstorm and select new winning moves or evaluate progress and next steps on existing winning moves.
Spend some time answering the first three questions above. Then reach out to me to talk about the fourth: What do we need to be focusing on now?
I’ll help you put together a solid action plan that will help your Big Hairy Audacious Goal become a concrete reality.
You can book an initial 15-minute call with me at timewithshane.com. We’ll see where you’re at, and we can then book a longer complimentary session to do some more detailed planning.