Creating a road map for a business may be a key to growth and success but how many entrepreneurs do it right. Here are suggestions for developing a solid plan.
1. Shorten the planning horizon. With the speed of change today the 5 year plan has become obsolete. Shorten the timeline to 3 years. You can have great vision and well developed strategy but unless you can connect the dots between where you are today and where you want to be you will fail.
2. Manage what you can measure. Knowledge is power. Monitor the right information and your plan will have a greater chance of succeeding.
3. Increase planning frequency. When the 2-3 year plan is complete, management meetings should be held at least quarterly to review where you are and what to do next. This will enable the organization to assess progress and realign targets to meet new business conditions.
4. Write the plan yourself. This is an element of business that entrepreneurs love to delegate to a consultant. A plan is better understood if it is created within the organization. The elements contained within the plan vary depending on the size and complexity of the organization. Only when there truly is a lack of the skillset for developing plans should the process be delegated to an outsider like a consultant.
5. Share the process. Entrepreneurs who keep their plans close to their chest, not revealing them to anyone, do so at their own peril. Making other managers part of the process provides the opportunity to hold them accountable and share ownership of the plan.
6. Be realistic. Plans that are overly optimistic or too safe are both wrong. Optimistic plans project revenues and a resulting spending scenario that may not be achieved. Deficits will result. Plans that are too conservative may result in limitations on spending because revenues are not expected. This may result in lost opportunities. Every effort to achieve realism should be undertaken and frequent reviews help keep the business on track.
7. Share the plan. Once completed the plan should be shared with the management group so everyone understands expectations and the yardstick for success. The organization should, where possible, tie performance bonuses to result attained in the plan.
When employees feel a sense of ownership about the future you may be amazed what they will be willing to do for the organization to help ensure success.