Effective Business Planning is more than deciding where you are going and setting a plan to get there. In my estimation we need to look at it holistically, from a 30,000-foot view. What are all of the components to being successful?
Summed up, I would say they are Vision, Action and Monitoring.
The Elements of Effective Business Planning
Where are you going with your company? What are the goals? How does your department play in that vision? No matter if you are the owner of the company, the head of a department, or a supervisor of a group of people, you need to know the overall goal of the organization, and how you play a role.
Most organizations have a vision, a mission statement. That is the guiding star around which all decisions should be made. Business planning happens in direct relationship to that mission. When you know where the company is going you then ask the question – What is it going to take to get there?
Take a moment and ask yourself – what is your goal? It could be the company goal, or the goal of your department. There might be more than one goal. If so, consider whether they are part of a greater goal or really separate. If they are part of a greater goal, stick with the greater goal for a moment.
If they are separate, you will have to consider them separately, and consider the plans for them separately.
If you are responsible for a department within a company, one of the questions you want to be sure you can answer is what impact will your success have on the company as a whole. Your success should be directly tied to the overall mission and goals of the company. Your goal is a significant part of the whole.
One of the most important questions you now have to answer is:
Who is involved in helping you make it a reality? Staff, vendors, clients, resources . . .
It’s important to know who you need to help you make your goal a reality because they have to be included in your plan. Even if you were a department or company of one, you still will have people or companies whose help you will need to enlist.
Take a moment and make a quick list of the people and or companies that come to mind. Remember, these can be coworkers, associates, employees, contractors, or vendors. It could be your superiors. Often times we need to enlist their help so we can meet our goals.
So, now you know where you are going and who you need to help you get there. A critical component of effective business planning is communication.
How will you communicate with each of those constituencies? I submit this is an area that falls down a lot in business. We get so caught up in the doing that we don’t think about communicating. And we think everyone knows where we’re going, how we are getting there, and their role in the process.
I don’t believe that people really embrace a mission, and their role in achieving it as quickly as we’d like. I believe it is our responsibility to communicate consistently, clearly, and in a compelling way.
It starts with sharing your vision and your plan with everyone. Don’t leave it to chance. You want to be talking about this early, and often. In addition, talk with each person or company about how they play a role. When you are clear about what you need from them, and the impact they will have, you gain their buy-in, and energy.
If they don’t know, they won’t be passionate about it; they won’t work toward it in the way you need and want them to. So tell your story. Tell it a lot. Talk about progress, about challenges. Pull them in to the decision making and problem solving where you can.
We can get so involved in the day to day that we aren’t doing the things that will really move us forward. Have you ever stopped and realized that you weren’t any closer to the goal? It might be because while you had a goal, and maybe even a plan, you didn’t have that plan mapped out in a way that you could work it effectively.
And, sometimes the goal seems so big that we have a hard time deciding how to accomplish it. so we just do stuff. But that stuff doesn’t get us where we want to go.
Try taking your goal and breaking it down into smaller sequential goals. One step at a time. Ultimately, those smaller goals will get you to your goal. The ultimate key point here is to put those steps on your calendar – not on a todo list.
When you want to be sure you get them done, you want to make them actual things, actual appointments on your calendar. Keep them small – no more than 30 minutes. You’ll notice how much you are accomplishing.
And remember – when there are other people who impact your progress you want one of your small steps to be checking in with them to be sure they are making progress as well.
One of the reasons I like shorter term goals is they are easier to monitor and track. And they make it easier to adjust your plan based on how things are going.
I like a 30-day short term goal. I think it’s enough time to make progress but not so much time that you won’t be able to identify what, if anything, you need to change.
When you use a 30-day plan, you schedule a time to review. So on the last day of the month for instance, you take a look at the previous 30 days and ask yourself 4 questions.
- What worked
- What didn’t work
- Did I hit my goal
- What am I going to do for the next 30 days
Having the answers to these questions will help you to move forward. You may find that you have the wrong people in the wrong places. Or maybe a process you are using isn’t working. Having a clear monitoring system will really help you identify in real time what’s going on and therefore, help you reach your goals.
Your goals and your plan are things you should be talking about a lot. With everyone! The plan should be broken down into smaller goals with action steps that are small, and scheduled on the calendar. And monitoring your progress should be a way of life.
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