December is always a calendar month for reflection across how well we did or did not do in the previous year and for most people, particularly in start-up or pre-revenue businesses, December is actually too late.
The importance of strategy and planning in a business should be a living a breathing document between the directors and employees daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
Without strategic planning, objective setting with goals and proper financial planning and business care rarely manage and develop and grow.
We are also experiencing a new level of uncertainty in our current world about geo-political events and sanctions, that can also disrupt a company on an existing coarse or plan of growth, learnings, among other things, that we need to expect the unexpected, you should be prepared for disruptions to the business on all fronts and all levels of severity.
Planning is one of the most important but poorly utilised management tools of businesses. This is true whether the focus is on planning a start-up business, operations planning, expansion planning, strategic planning or other planning.
Before you being the planning process you need to create the proper environment within the business. This will increase your chances of having a productive planning effort.
1. Create a culture within the organisation that is open to planning. It is easy for management to focus all of their attention on day-to-day management and forget about the long-term direction of the business.
2. Involve all management personnel. It is often believed that planning is a business function separate from management. However, to be successful, all management personnel need to be involved in planning. Involving management personnel is the way to create “ownership” and “commitment” to the plan and its implementation.
3. Remember customer needs. During the planning process it is easy to focus on matters internal to the organisation and forget the customer. Remember, satisfying customer wants and needs is the reason the business exists.
4. Focus the plan on goals. The purpose of the plan is to achieve the goals of the business and help reach its vision and mission. So, the first step is to re-examine the business mission statement and the goals associated with it. Without goals, planning is meaningless.
5. Set realistic deadlines. Setting a time deadline for the first draft of the plan is important. It forces management to move forward on the planning process. However, expecting too much to be done in too short of a time period usually leads to a poorly drafted plan.
6. Provide enough time and money for the planning process. Planning is often entered into half-heartedly. So, it is often under-funded with insufficient managerial time allocated to it.
7. Make good assumptions about the industry and market environment. The business will be operating in an industry and market environment. So, it is important that you thoroughly understand these environments. The assumptions you make about these environments are important for the success of the business.
8. Focus on results. To be successful, planners need to proceed through the various steps of the planning process. During every step of the process, planners need to focus on the expected results of the planning process.
Finally, the plan is a “living” document – revise it regularly as needed. Business leaders often believe that a plan cannot be changed once it has been put in place, or at least until the next planning period. Although a plan should not be changed frivolously, it needs to be modified and updated when appropriate. As a plan is being implemented, it is not uncommon to uncover deficiencies in the plan as well as changes.
Quarterly budgeting and 100-day plans with allocated responsibility and tasking can help support business planning, transformation and growth.