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5 reasons why having a plan is essential for your business

‘Only 3% of adults have written goals, and everyone else works for them.’ Brian Tracy

Many businesses seem reluctant to plan for their business. Why is that?

A client I was with a couple of weeks ago admitted he was scared to have a sales forecast for next year. When I asked him about it, he said it was scary committing to figures that he was then worried about not hitting. Which was odd, given that we’d been working off a sales forecast that I’d created for him for the last six months. And that he’d almost hit target (he only missed it by a matter of a few hundred pounds), and his profit margins were ahead of target.
And importantly he’d increased his revenue by nearly 20% over the previous year. Which he also would never have known had we not sat down and worked on his figures and looked at where he wanted to go.

But it’s also very understandable. Holding yourself (and your business – he has employees) to a target is scary.

So is – ‘it’s scary’ a good enough reason not to have a plan?

What other reasons do people give? Here are some I’ve been given.

‘I’m too busy to think about it’
Or
‘It’s one of those “big things” on my to-do list rather than one of those quick things I can tick off and feel good about, so it goes to the bottom of the pile.’
Or
‘I have my plan in my head’
Or
‘I know where I want to get to’

For those who say they know where they want to get to or their plan is in their head – if you drill in to what that ‘plan’ is – it’s usually a vague ‘grow my business’ or ‘get more clients’, without any facts or figures. And they don’t know how they are going to grow their business, or who their best clients are and therefore where they should be concentrating their effort.

Given the time of year, preparing Christmas lunch is a great example of how planning results in the best outcome. The picture is one very kindly donated to me by the wonderful Ges Ray of Speaking in Public (if you struggle with presenting to groups of people – Ges is the very fellow to sort you out – check out his recommendations on LinkedIn he is brilliant)

ges-christmas-plans-dec-2016

Organising Christmas lunch requires a level of planning. It has to happen on the 25th December – there can be no slippage on it. This one doesn’t include the pre-planning of making sure you’ve ordered a turkey and/or defrosted it in time for cooking on the day. It’s a time by time, temperature by temperature plan on the actual day that ensures everything happens at the right time to achieve the perfect lunch.

So, why does this plan work?
• Firstly and most importantly, the outcome is clear – have a beautifully cooked Christmas lunch (turkey with all the trimmings) ready at, I’m guessing 2pm looking at the timings, on Christmas day.
• Secondly there’s a step by step plan to get there broken down by tasks.
• Thirdly, those tasks are crystal clear – when they are to happen and what exactly is going to happen (oven temperature and what is going in the oven/on the stove).
• Fourthly there is measurement – each item is ticked off as it is achieved.
• Finally, there is flexibility – some changes had to be included (cabbage and stuffing were added).

Is any part of this plan scary? Would the writing of it make you nervous that you’ve committed to something that you’re worried you can’t achieve? If you would burn the boiling of an egg, then maybe, but generally no, this would seem a very sensible thing to do to ensure the day went smoothly.

Why is this any different from having a plan for your business? That’s a rhetorical question. The simple answer is, it isn’t.

5 reasons to have a plan for your business

1. Having a plan works. Full stop

There are numerous studies on the benefits of having a written plan. A study conducted by Gail Matthews, Ph.D., at the Dominican University, found that individuals with written goals achieved approximately 50% more of their goals than those without written goals.

The study also showed that individuals who made a public “commitment” to their goals and were held accountable to those goals were substantially more likely to accomplish them. And is where it’s useful to have a business coach like me on hand to help keep you on track.

2. The act of writing it makes the result much more likely to happen

The important thing is that the goals must be in writing. There is some science that says you should also handwrite the goals too. It develops a stronger neural link than typing apparently.

The goals however need to be very specific and measurable. ‘Growing revenue’ is not a specific goal.

Here is an example of a clear and measurable goal:
Revenue will grow by 20% and this will come from:
Getting 20 new clients
who will pay £5000 each

Two recent clients of mine (in addition to the one above) have both confirmed that without the targets we set and documented, they would never have achieved what they did. One has grown his revenue by over 30% and the other put down a target that he didn’t think he could possibly achieve but did – because a) he’d written it down and b) he had the tasks in the background to support getting to that target.

3. It keeps you focused

Having your plan where you (and your staff) can see it and if you review it weekly it will help keep you going in the right direction.
Regularly reviewing it is vital too.

4. Helps guide your decisions

This is particularly useful for creative types who have a million and one new ideas. Looking at your plan and objectives helps remind yourself of where you’re aiming for. So if you have new ideas or need to make decisions, ask yourself if the idea or decision is going to move you towards your end goal. If not, park it for now. Write it on a flip chart labelled fab ideas to consider at some stage in the future – maybe. And then leave it there!

5. Provides milestones and measures
Having a plan and breaking it down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks provides you with structure and also you can see how you are doing against the overall plan.

Now is the perfect time – in the hiatus between Christmas and New Year when there are a lot less distractions to get your plan ready for 2017.

If you’d like to download a handy sales forecast tool to input your sales targets for the year and then add in the actual figures which then updates a chart for you to print off, you can download it here:

“Having an idea is just 30% of the story. The journey is rough and the possibility to fail is high unless you have a good business plan and also have an intelligent team with a good culture capable of forecasting challenges. I know that’s a lot but that is the secret formula right?” Rouz
Source: https://artbees.net/themes/blog/business-goals-for-2017/

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.

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