Holiday plans or business plans?

holiday_planning_sml

Most people spend more time planning their holidays than they do planning their business.

I strongly believe this statement to be true. Many business owners fail to plan because they get too busy. They are also often focused on the wrong things, such as running a tight ship, rather than investing in the appropriate resources to enable the business to grow. The upshot of this is that in many cases, the owners run out of hours in the day to hold regular board or management meetings, and it is extremely rare to find a smaller or medium-sized business with the discipline to hold an annual planning session for the year ahead.

The value of planning sessions

An annual planning session, preferably facilitated by an independent professional, is a very valuable process for a business. (If you have a proactive accountant, he or she could facilitate this process very effectively.) A planning session should result in a concise action plan with clear accountabilities for implementation.

In our business, we have adopted the One Page Plan format promoted by international growth expert, Verne Harnish (www.gazelles.com.) Our process has been as follows:

  1. Annual planning session with all managers and directors
    We work through our core values, our BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) and then agree on our 10-year target. From that, we create 3-year, 1-year and quarterly goals and set the key priorities for the year ahead—and how we will measure the progress towards those priorities.
  2. Follow-up session with the entire team
    We assign individual accountabilities around projects and key performance indicators (KPIs). All of these must feed through to the company priorities.
  3. Quarterly review meetings (management followed by team)
    Update, revise or raise the bar on targets.
  4. Weekly team meetings with the entire team
    Each team member gives a brief update on progress.
  5. Daily 7-minute management meetings
    We make commitments to each other as to what we will achieve that day. Agenda: what’s up; daily metric; where are you stuck?
  6. Daily 10-minute meeting with all team members in the office
    Same agenda as for the daily management meetings.

This process has seriously improved the way in which manage our business. When I look back from where we are now to the time we started our One Page Plan process, the number of projects we have implemented has been phenomenal.

Here’s another suggestion for getting on top of your business planning.

Don’t fall into the trap of being all consumed by what your business does. As the owner, it is critically important that you step out of working ‘in’ the business at least once a quarter and spend some quality time planning your business (and personal) future.

  • jomenzies

    This is a great article on two fronts. Firstly, because it’s very true. We often get so caught up in the act of getting the job done that we fail to take a helicopter view to see if what we’ve been doing is the best way, or just the way it’s always been done. In doing so, we almost slip into a state of complacency. Secondly, because planning should happen every day, not just during the annual business planning process. Our plans should be reviewed regularly to check the progress and to ensure we’re on track to reaching our goals, or, if the intent has changed due to conflicting business priorities. Both of which are ok, so long as you’re heading in the right direction.
    Our marketing team are currently in the throes of completing our annual marketing plans and as tedious as the process is, we are completely changing our approach this year. That is, we are taking a step back and stripping back to marketing basics to redefine our priorities, our value proposition and our target market before even contemplating our tactical marketing plans. It’s a long road, but one that I’m excited to see how our new plans will pan out over the next twelve months. Afterall, with great planning, comes great success.
    The same can be said for planning a holiday. And for me, I have a much needed short break in just a few days and I haven’t planned a thing! It’s fair to say, that for this, I am actually planning on not planning a thing and simply going with the flow, because I can.
    Love your work, and enjoy your hard earned holiday!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=593264427 Steven Wright

    This gets awfully confusing when one plans a holiday to do work! Great pointers though – I think that this is crazy given you spend more time planning for something (holiday) that is intended to be a financially negative experience, while business is hopefully the reverse…