Sunday, October 2, 2011

Demand, Part 2

Regardless of the endless stream of negative news and commentary on the economy, unemployment,  the 2012 Presidential election, the weather, you should be focused on executing your well thought out and intelligent business plan.

You do have a plan, don't you?

Oh, well don't worry, you are not alone. 

Over the past few months, starting in the early summer, the discussions I have had with many owners and managers of smaller enterprises has centered on increasing sales/revenues.  (A statement that will shock few people.) Most have trimmed all of the fixed costs that they can out of their business and are running lean...nearly to the bone.  And a few are actually hiring, albeit slowly, cautiously.  But many don't have an actual plan that leads their decision-making.  This leads to free-lancing, or worse, inaction.

While it may seem counter-intuitive, planning for smaller enterprises need not be an elaborate fact to be effective (translation: to be actually acted upon) a plan needs to be rather simple.  It cannot mirror the "business plans" that one develops for a funding agency or in entrepreneur "boot camps," documents which are written then put on a shelf by most business owners.

An effective plan acts as your script, or your playbook (actually more like the laminated one-page crib sheet that football coaches carry on the sidelines.) 

A working, workable business plan incorporates the following elements:
  1.  Critical Success Factor (CSF) - The factors that are so critical that your company will not succeed if these factors are not satisfied, e.g., Increase Sales.  CSF's are conceptual; the frame for your goals, which are more specific.  Most have no more than two or three.
  2. Goals - A restatement of the CSF that is specific, measurable and attainable.  Directly relevant to the CSF, above. Increase sales by 10% by year end 2012.
  3. Strategies - Your plan of attack; how you will achieve your goal.  You may have several  strategies:  Increase pricing; expand product/services; hire salesperson.
  4. Action Plan(s) - You must have at least one  action plan for each strategy, but no more than 2 or three -- too overwhelming for most, unless you have managerial staff with time on their hands (a subject for another post.)
Action plans should  follow the SMART planning construct:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to the goal) and Time-bound.

Planning leads to a better leadership attitude.  It allows you to:

  • Think strategically rather than working on “the idea of the week”
  • Focus on building teams rather than trying to do everything yourself
  • Motivating those responsible to get timely results
  • Creating a results oriented culture that embraces and drives change

Remember:  Proper planning prevents poor performance!

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