Get Yourself A Plan

Date: 19th July 2018

“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”

This little quote, often attributed to the likes of Churchill, Lincoln and probably even Graham Henry, perfectly sums up the reality of running a business. Especially a 21st century business, where the tools are all around us and the competition has probably hatched their plan already.

It’s a fundamental rule of commerce that you understand what the future holds and you work to an agreed strategy – this might sound daunting or maybe even boring but you shouldn’t ignore it. There are many reasons why you need a strategic plan; managing growth, maintaining staff levels, knowing when it’s safe to invest, understanding operational constraints or opportunities… the list is endless.

But how to get started? There are lots of different ways to get your plan out of your head and into action – we’re all familiar with the infamous SWOT analysis (if you’re not, look it up). Queenstown is a pretty unique environment when it comes to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. If you spend some time on this part of your plan you’ll probably make some good discoveries about the future of your business. There are also heaps of other analysis tools to think about; PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technical) or Porter’s 5 Forces (look this up too)…

Once all that useful data has been compiled you’ll need to give yourself some structure to deal with it.

VISION Here’s another one of those clichés (only because it’s true); “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else”. Your vision should be easily shared, future-focused and inspiring.

MISSION STATEMENT This is all about the ‘Why?”. Ask yourself about your company’s purpose and why it matters. This statement should be an internal message but should still inspire you and your team and give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

VALUES You need to stand for something (“or you’ll fall for anything”). Every business needs some form of ethical framework – it will help you make the right decisions, large or small.

Now it’s time to create some goals and strategies. To be of any value these need to be SMART: (Specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, timely) and they need to be yours. Own them and make them count – your livelihood depends on it.

GOALS Try to make these broad and qualitative. Look at the big picture and make it relevant.

STRATEGIES These should be more quantitative and centred around things in your direct control like revenue, your product mix, number of customers etc.

Now we have the beginnings of a plan – you just need to look after it and keep it current. Monitoring and reviewing are vital to your success – if things aren’t working, change them. If they are, keep working on them… adjust your goals as you reach them. Above all, never confine your plan to the bookshelf to be forgotten or referred to in times of crisis.

Make planning an annual habit which fits in around your accounting and legal obligations to the business. You’ll soon see the benefits and you’ll struggle to see how you managed without a plan in the first place… If you need a hand, feel free to give me a call.

Next week I’ll be talking about tips to make sure your plans get used and help you make the most of your business and the work and effort you put into it.


Robin Martin

P.S. This article is part of my Secrets of Success series, aimed at helping business owners and entrepreneurs with some of the key components of business success. The insights I wish I’d had at the start of my business career. I hope that by passing on these little gems of knowledge I can give you some support and help you along the pathway to growth and prosperity.

Posted in: Secrets of Success Blog

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