Our client planning cycle seems like it has stretched a little this year. It might just be me, but I feel like we’re working plans a little deeper and farther than in years past. It’s good. Sales growth, operational improvements, capacity expansion, developing teams…. All good for the business, the employees and the owners.
I think a major factor in my feeling like the planning cycle is stretching is the volume of obstacles to a smooth planning process. We’re all busy; clients are busy, coaches are busy, our families are busy. You have to be really tenacious and committed to see your planning through to an effective result.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
James’ instruction may be a little dramatic for this subject, but the struggle is real in driving your planning process.
I find simple thoughts help keep me on point in any process. An activity such as planning can and often should include many parallel action steps with a lot of moving parts. There are so many variables to consider that business owners may feel overwhelmed. This is when the process tends to break down, participants lose stamina, planning stops short of complete.
Three Key Elements for Tenacious Business Planning
1. Set and keep your sights on the Major Business Objectives
The most critical element to maintaining planning momentum is staying focused upon the major objectives. Don’t let yourselves get lost in the weeds. For small business owners, the Major Business Objectives typically include your sales goal, net income goal and one or two key business initiatives like a target market or operational improvement. Come right out of the blocks at the start of planning by identifying your Major Objectives. The rest of the planning process builds the details and actions around how you’re going to accomplish the objectives.
Anytime you feel adrift in your planning or in your thoughts, focus on these few Major Business Objectives.
2. Establish clear Ownership of Actions
Concurrent with establishing your Major Business Objectives is establishing who owns the actions that drive the objectives. Making accountability clear immediately in the development of action plans, gets and keeps people engaged in the planning process. Being positive and encouraging is critical for this element. As a business leader, you set the tone as positive and build enthusiasm for executing well. Team members will engage much more effectively when your planning culture is one of confident, positive, accomplishment. Build some “sizzle” in the action plans that team members can buy in to.
Should any team members seem to become fatigued during planning, sell the sizzle. Direct their attention to the importance of their role and critical nature of executing their part of the action plans.
3. Publish how and when you will Measure Results
I say clichés are clichés for a reason, they are usually true. What gets measured gets done. String each of these key elements for Tenacious Business Planning together with communicating measurement and publishing results at regular intervals. Make sure everyone knows what you will measure, how you will track it and when you will publish the results. The nature of the business environment will dictate the appropriate interval, but weekly or monthly results will usually work. Keep the theme of tracking and publishing results visible in all planning dialogue. Tracking and publishing results demonstrates to your team that you care about their work product. By reinforcing the “publishing of results”, you keep planning energy high.
Like the other elements, measuring and tracking results should have a positive impact on the team. Avoid any tone that this activity is negative. Tracking results allows you to support anyone that needs help early enough to accomplish the required outcomes. It’s all about the team members bringing the team to success.
Every business is unique; hence, all business owners have unique challenges to finalizing a robust business plan that works. You face challenges and obstacles to starting, engaging in and completing the plans you would like to have every day. If you build your planning with the three elements listed above, you will maintain the tenacity required to plan your success.
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