Take the Pain Out of Business Planning
About three months should be devoted to an initial business plan, according to Harvard Business Review. Then every year, if not more frequently (e.g., quarterly), attention needs to be given to this living document for ongoing review, analysis and updates. But how many business owners and leaders actually use their business plan to navigate their day-to-day strategies, tactics and goals?
Carving time out of your schedule to work ON the business (as opposed to IN the business) can feel downright painful, particularly when compounded with the day-to-day responsibilities of being an organizational leader. After all, when leaders shift their energy from one task to another, such as business planning, something else may get sacrificed. If stuck on the backburner, things like HR responsibilities, operations-related tasks, or culture-enhancing activities can flare up and take a costly toll of their own.
All that said, there’s a way to take the pain out of business planning. Whether you’re developing a plan for the first time or striving to update the current document, these tips will make your plan more effective, efficient and less costly in the long-run.
- Commit to a truly professional plan in the first place. Create a plan that you can actually use versus one that looks good but doesn’t drive action and results. At MAP, we take a very straightforward but effective approach to business planning that brings in the right elements, avoiding all the fluff. The secret sauce? Accountability. Our clients define their own unique business needs, assign appropriately to staff, and manage both individual and team initiatives. With vital accountability, the business plan gets more than written; it gets used daily and is your most valuable business navigation tool – your “GPS” – telling you exactly where to go and what to do to get there.
- Make planning a team event. You can’t drive culture-wide accountability if you’re the only one planning and taking ownership of this activity. Get your team leads and other talent tied to company results and skilled at planning. Doing so will ensure you’re setting the right goals, strategies and tactics, while also building employee ownership in the success of the plan. This delegation strategy will also free up your time so you can focus on other leadership-centric tasks.
- Make planning a priority. Don’t just talk about how and why planning matters. Take action that enables great planning to happen. Get the tools, resources and talent to help you build and sustain business planning. Set aside time to work on business plans and make sure the staff involved has the time and headspace to do it. For example, if they need to focus on planning this month, don’t suddenly throw a new project their way, forcing them to choose between that project or the plan. Show, don’t just tell, people that planning is a core company value.
PS – Download our Strategic Planning Fundamentals Checklist to get a head start.