How much time should you spend on planning the affairs of your business?
The simple answer: Enough to know your plan and the resulting effort will have a reasonable chance of success. Success comes in the execution of the plan, and evaluation of the ensuing results.
You can certainly over plan. There are examples throughout history of companies that have spent so much time planning, revising the plans, and reviewing the plans that they forgot to execute the plan and the business failed. Planning for the sake of planning is usually counter-productive. It’s like changing for the sake of change. Rarely a good idea.
One car dealership changed its catchy slogan for its location. When the marketing staff was asked about it, they responded that they were tired of the slogan. When they came to understand that their customers, and potential consumers, would lose their association with the dealership and make it harder to find them because of the change, the slogan came back.
Planning is the process of developing a strategy your company can execute with a reasonable measure of attainment. It’s a rather simple process. You determine what you want to do, gain agreement from those involved in the implementation, figure out who has responsibility for the tasks that need to be accomplished, set a budget, and then you put it into action.
If, for instance, you plan to grow your business by 20 new clients each month for the next year, you should have more than an idea of how it’s going to happen. If you’ve added five new members a month during the past year, you are now expecting to quadruple that sales performance. The planning process involves rationalizing if it’s achievable, and laying down the groundwork to accomplish the objective month-by-month.
Monitoring, or tracking the results, is essential to the process of planning. Using the 20 new clients per month example, if sales bring in 12 new clients in the first month, a quick analysis of how and why that happened assists in the execution strategy. If the goal remains at 20, somewhere those missing eight new customers needs to be made up to validate the goal and the strategy for implementation.
Bring in 22 new clients the second month and now you’re down six. What’s more significant, though, is that the sales people are starting to hit their stride. They’ve had success and are gaining confidence in the process and belief in the goal. That’s how the planning process and execution strategy work hand in glove to provide management with the tools so critical to growing the business and keeping the team motivated.
Yes, you can skip the planning process and trust that your company is on track. You can “wing it” when it comes to measuring results and the performance of your sales team. You can also feel comfortable repeating the same mistakes hoping for different results, then wonder why profits start to slip, customers leave for a competitor, and your business winds up closing.
We have found that planning can be as complex or as simple as you want, once you’ve laid a solid foundation, which is something Brand Irons can assist you with. You also need an accountability partner to keep you focused on the execution of the plan. It is far too easy to be side-tracked by the daily operations and avoid looking at the bigger picture.
Einstein’s definition of insanity: Keep doing the same thing but expect different results.
Take the time to think things through; our philosophy on planning.
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