Most people see successful business planning as an extremely complex strategic document that’s created at the beginning and executed without any further changes. On the contrary, however, business planning needs to be constantly changing to adjust to your environment and to complement your objectives.
When I coach and mentor small-business owners, I explain that there are three key elements to a successful plan:
The physical business plan
Without a business plan, there is no way of knowing if what you’re doing actually meets your objectives and the direction you want to take your business in. A business plan will help guide you in your decision-making, keep your activities focused and ensure that everything you do is worth the investment of resources, time and effort.
Every business plan should have these key elements:
Timing and planning
The Gantt chart, traditionally used as a project-management tool to track deliverables on a timeline, is now used more widely in business planning and is considered by many as the bread-and-butter of managers and business owners.
The Gantt chart helps you track that with every activity contributes to meeting your long-term goals. Using a Gantt chart you can:
The Gantt chart is a wonderful tool that will give you not only an overall snapshot of the day-to-day operations of the business, but will also help you plan resourcing, identify issues that may delay the completion of projects and ensure you’re on track to meet KPIs.
Constantly review your business plan
Very few industries and markets stay the same quarter-to-quarter, month-to-month, or even week-to-week. Your business plan needs to be responsive to your market and your business. If you have a fast-changing market, reviewing your business plan quarterly will mean you may be missing great opportunities by not being as dynamic as the rest of your market.
I keep my accounting information in the cloud so I can review it on-the-go, wherever I am. This means as soon as I have some downtime I can log into Quickbooks, review how the business is operating in a snapshot and see if I need to take any action.
And there is no problem with reviewing your business plan at a higher tempo than your market operates. Affirming your objectives, intermediate goals and your projects will mean your business is dynamic, responsive and in the best position to capitalise on opportunities you create or deal with any risks you identify.
Matt Alderton, www.b-x.com.au, Founder, Alderton Enterprises and author of “Business for Life”