There’s no better way to start the year than by thinking about your plans for your business in 2012. With that said, I want to take you through a simple planning process that will help you make a start, and to help you get it going with a rush.
The model we’re going to talk about most importantly is the Now, Where and How. This is one of the most basic models in planning and problem solving. When creating a plan, it is really important that we have a look at where we are now, where we need to be (which is probably the most important component of all), and then finally, how are we going to get there? Where are we NOW?
Talking about the NOW means looking at where your business right now. It’s time to sit back and take stock of your business. Take a good hard look of what you’re doing. I get my clients to think about doing this in 6 key headings.
This is about your finances, your profitability and those sorts of things. Just use it as a general heading to think about and write down some dot points such as:
- How profitable has your business been?
- Where are you in terms of sales, costs, profits, debts?
Customers – Who are they?
The next heading then is Customers. This is where you think about:
- Who your customers are?
- How they’ve been going?
- What sorts of customers do you have?
- What sorts of customers do you attract?
- What sorts of customers would you like eventually?
- Products and services – how have we performed?
The third thing to think about then is your Products and Services. If you’re a service business then you won’t have products maybe. But anyway, things to write notes about under this heading are:
- What do you deliver?
- What do you deliver to?
- What is the quality of your delivery?
- How do you compare against our competitors?
- Core processes & systems
After establishing points for our products and services, talk about the Core Processes and Systems being used to deliver your products to your customers. Talk about your core processes – what are they and how do they operate in your business?
Our People & Teams – Internal and External
In order to deliver your products and services to your customers and then collect some cash, along the way you need to have engaged your team (internal and external). Make sure you have a great, quality team to work with – start thinking about your people and write down some comments about them.
The final heading would be Marketing and Promotions. Write down some notes about how well your marketing and sales programs are working.
So that’s a quick summary of the NOW. You don’t need to spend a lot of time doing it, but I suggest that you do. Then the next thing I’d like you to spend some time on is the WHERE.
Define the WHERE – Explore your future
Use the same six headings we used for the NOW and be aspirational.
For Profits, set some targets – financial targets, for what you would like to achieve in the coming year. You might be planning for a longer period but just start with 2012.
- What level of sales would you like to have?
- What level of profitability you would like to have?
- What sorts of volumes would you like to do?
- Same with customers – think about what sorts of customers you would like to acquire in 2012. Do you want to maintain your current client base, Do you want to grow them or get some extra ones? Think about those things.
For Products and Services, think about what you need to do about these – how do you change them in 2012?
For Core Processes, again, think about what you need to do with your core processes. Be more efficient and more effective.
Then, think about your People. They are the enablers of your business and they are absolutely critical. What are your retention policies on people? How are you going to retain good quality people? How are you going to attract them and recruit them? These are really important.
And then lastly, it’s very important that you think about your Marketing and Sales because this is the engine that drives your business from the top end. It is really important to put some time and some thought into your Marketing and Promotional activities.
So there, we’ve done a quick summary for the WHERE to determine where you want to be. Now you have to think about how you’re going to get there.
The HOW – How will you move from NOW to WHERE?
The HOW is all about understanding what’s required to move from where you are now to where you want to be. What are the things you want to do?
Here are the things I would like you to do:
Think about the barriers – what are they? Thinking about the barriers will help you focus on some of the priority actions you need to take.
Brainstorm and come up with 3 or 4 MUST DO’s that you need to do in the next 12 months if you’re going to achieve your targets. These are “big chunks” like moving to bigger customers or launching of a new product or service.
So think about the MUST DO’s, about 3 or 4 normally, any more than that you start to get a bit out of focus. Remember it’s a 12-month time frame.
Break up your MUST DO’s
Then for each of those MUST DO’s, I’d like you to put some timelines. Start to break them up into when you need them delivered, who’s going to do them, what are the priority actions? Start thinking about those and then group them up into 90-Day Actions.
What are the 90-Day Actions?
The 90-Day Actions refer to the things you need to do within the next 90 days if you’re going to achieve our 12-month goal? Focus on those, set some Project Teams up for your business if that’s what you need to do. (These are small teams that are focused on actually delivering outcomes for you). So set up some Project Teams and make it happen.
Okay, so that the HOW part.
To summarise your plans, I suggest you use a One Page Plan tool, there’s actually a template for this online on my website on the blog, so you should be able to download it. If you can’t, just please contact me through the blog and I’ll send you a copy.
The One Page Plan is really simple. It contains a quick summary of the NOW, WHERE and some of the targets you want to hit. And then down the bottom, the strategies and the must do’s and then the action plans – the 3 or 4 things you need to do to get things moving.
So that’s the basic process. Work out where you are NOW, work out WHERE you’re going to be in the future and then lastly, plan HOW you’re going to get there. Summarise it all into a neat plan, set yourself some 90-day actions, be really clear on those actions and get you and your team motivated and off to a successful 2012.
Now is the time to get in and develop a plan for 2012 before you get too far down the track. Just do it – for most people this is a 20 min to 30 minute exercise.
All the best for 2012,