The COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving. It has changed the way we work and where we work from. For many it has challenged our business models and forced us to respond in new and unexpected ways to stay afloat and engaged with our customers. And so it’s more important than ever to have a clear and actionable business plan that will help you not only survive the pandemic but thrive on the other side.
So, what is a business plan all about?
Well, Antoine de Saint-Exupery is famous for his book The Little Prince but also for saying: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”, and we know that businesses don’t flourish off the back of wishes. Business planning is a strategic approach to understanding where you are today, where you want to get to and how you are going to get there. It provides a tactical roadmap to help you plan, track and measure against your key business goals.
We work with many of our clients to help them define and measure their business plans, focusing on several key factors.
Here are our 7 critical elements to implementing a successful business plan.
Define the Scope of Your Business Plan
Business planning can happen at different levels within your business, from owners and c-suite executives through to individual divisions and sub-teams. The best business plans cover all levels and connect a seamless strategy. You can plan for varying implementation periods, including longer term (5 to 10 years) or for shorter periods (up to 18 months).
If your business implements business planning at different levels, the actions within each plan will differ. But, ultimately, all the plans should come together over time to allow the business to achieve its mission.
Get Everyone on Board
It’s essential that business planning is a collaborative process. Everyone loves being a part of something and most people don’t like being told what to do. A collaborative method will help you to get everyone on the bus and have them singing the same song...that they wrote together!
Clearly define roles and responsibilities and encourage accountability so that the whole team can help to move the business plan forwards to achieve collaborative success.
Create a Common Goal
A great business plan will define a common goal, often referred to as a Vision or Mission. Vision and Mission Statements communicate to all stakeholders why the business exists and what you are trying to achieve. Once created, the statement can be used as a point of reference to guide decision making and to challenge behaviours within your organisation.
When faced with a difficult decision, you and the team can ask whether it will help achieve the mission. If the answer is ‘yes’, you‘ll move forward; if not or you’re unsure, it will flag an opportunity to gain clarity and work towards a clear ‘yes’.
Review Every Key Element of Your Business
To achieve your business goals, you need to critically analyse all the key elements of your business. Take time to consider and challenge the products and services you sell, where you sell them and to whom, the culture of your organisation; even consider the market you’re playing in and if there are new markets you could consider entering.
Your market research will need to include some industry and competitive analysis, as well as define your unique selling proposition and positioning strategy. Particularly in the current climate, it’s about finding gaps in the market and filling them.
There are many popular business plan templates and frameworks to help you through the process.
Here are some examples of easy-to-use business plan frameworks:
- Scenario planning
- Critical success factor analysis
- Porter’s Five Forces
Identify the Keys to Success
Now that you’ve reviewed every element of your business, it’s time to identify the key issues that you need to focus on to achieve your Vision. It’s important to recognise that you can’t fix everything at once. You run the risk of not doing anything well. Subject to your resources, select the top 4 to 8 issues that are your keys to business success.
Remember to work towards SMART goals, which can be effectively measured over time. Define the KPIS you will use to measure each goal and make sure you have the data and digital business systems in place to provide clear analytics and insights on your performance.
Create an Action Plan
After identifying your keys to success and KPIs, it’s time to create an action plan that identifies what you are trying to achieve, what actions you will take, who will do the actions, when they will be actioned, and what budget has been allocated to each activity.
Your action plan is a key driver of the success of your business plan. It breaks down the mountain of tasks into smaller mole hills you can conquer and reflect on over time. It also helps with prioritisation and evaluation.
Implement Your Business Plan
Now that everyone is on the bus singing the same song about achieving the same goal, all that is left to do is implement the plan! OK, we know it’s not that simple. But the worst thing that can happen now is that the plan goes into the bottom draw and isn't seen again until next year’s business planning session!
To keep things on track, we recommend locking in a time each month to meet to discuss the progress of the action plan. Remember that business planning is an ongoing activity that should be reviewed and monitored regularly.
The above business plan template is aimed at the business owner, c-suite and key management level. Having said that, the best businesses have a planning culture that plans at all levels of the business. The critical elements above provide a framework that can be used for planning at any level.
JOIN OUR FREE WEBINAR!
We’ve had a lot of interest in the business plan framework above, so we’ve decided to run a free webinar to dive into these topics in more detail and provide the opportunity to ask questions about your business.
The webinar is titled Developing a Strong Business Plan and it will be held on Wednesday 5 June at Noon. You can register or find out more details here.