Business Planning in 30 Minutes, Part 3

For Business Owners Only

Do you hate business planning more than hearing nails on a blackboard? Perfect. Join the rest of us business owners as we search for a better way…

In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we looked at the 10/10/10 business plan. Think about one aspect of your business for 10 minutes. Do this for three days. Voila! Business plan!

So far, we’ve written two sentences that describe our business’s aspirations, and we’ve thought about the OUTSIDE forces that could significantly affect us.

Now onto the last bit: let’s think about our capabilities, those things within our direct control, typically things that are INSIDE the company. This worksheet is a good guide.

WHAT DO WE DO WELL?

What are our strengths? Those things that our customers rely on, things that our competitors aren’t as good at. They could be people, skills, knowledge, procedures, equipment, location, technology – you know what they are. They make us proud of our business, they’re the things we like to talk (brag!) about. And they keep our customers coming back for more.

Ready to do a little more writing?

What should we do to preserve our strengths and capitalize on them? How can we make them even better, even stronger, even more effective? How can we use them to increase our reach, our revenue, our gross margin, our customer satisfaction?

Describe these things at a high level. Perhaps you teach business owners using the Internet – just a random example 🙂  What about using a cool new technology to help ANY business owner, ANYWHERE, in a LIVE public setting? Let’s write it down:

Use the CZ technology to offer free, online advice to business owners around the world.

By achieving this, how much will your business measurably improve? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much money / effort will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much time will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Weeks  Months

How certain are you that this can be achieved? Circle one: Very  Unsure

Is this consistent with your corporate aspiration? Circle one: Yes  No

Who from your team would be responsible for this?

Use this worksheet and write down a few potential objectives. One is good. Three is better. Eleven is probably too many.

WHAT DO WE DO POORLY?

I hate to admit this, but we’re not perfect. D’oh! In fact, we could be downright awful at some things. Those things could be hurting our business significantly. Hurting the quality of our products and services. Hurting our reputation. And hurting revenue, gross margin, and customer satisfaction.

The good news is that we get a fresh start. We’ve got a whole new year to solve these problems. Let’s use it to become as good as we possibly can!

Use this worksheet and write down how we’re going to improve on things we don’t do well.

For me, marketing is my weakness. I love to teach, I love to write, and I love to help business owners. But I don’t do nearly enough effective marketing. So I need to…

Find more effective marketing channels and partners.

If we do NOT achieve this, how much could our business be HURT? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much money / effort will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much time will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Weeks  Months

How certain are you that this can be achieved? Circle one: Very  Unsure

Is this consistent with your corporate aspiration? Circle one: Yes  No

Who from your team would be responsible for this?

Use this worksheet. Write down your improvement suggestions.

NOW PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK, AND RELAX FOR A DAY

You’ve made it this far, and you’ve done a great job. Well done!

And, as a reward for your hard work, I’ve got a special holiday gift for you in my next blog post. It’s going to make planning even easier for you…

 

Business Planning for Those Who Hate Planning

For Business Owners Only

Hate business planning? Think it takes too much time, is inaccurate, and doesn’t add any value to your life? Join the rest of us… 🙂

The 10/10/10 business plan may be for you. Spend ten minutes a day for three days and you’ll create a wonderful plan. It may be all you need to guide you through the year. Or it may be a good start on something more comprehensive. Either way, time well spent.

We started yesterday by writing two sentences that describe your business’s aspirations. If you haven’t done that yet, do it now.

Today, let’s think about the situation OUTSIDE your company (this worksheet will be useful).

These are things beyond your control. Significant things. Things that could really affect your business in 2017 (or beyond), for better or worse.

What are the opportunities?

What is happening outside your company that, if properly managed, would be really good for it? Think about industry trends. New technologies. Exchange rates. Regulatory changes. A new set of potential customers. A competitor leaving your market.

What’s going on in the world beyond your doors that could really help you?

Now – and this is where you’ll need to write things down – what could/should/must you do to take advantage of these opportunities? Describe things at a high level. For example, perhaps you do commercial building maintenance and you hear about a new elevator refinishing technology. Can you get exclusive rights to it for your city? Write it down.

Get exclusive rights to the Acme elevator refinishing technology for Victoria.

By achieving this, how much will your business improve? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much money / effort will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much time will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Weeks  Months

How certain are you that this can be achieved? Circle one: Very  Unsure

Is this consistent with your corporate aspiration? Circle one: Yes  No

Who from your team would be responsible for this?

Use this worksheet and write down a few potential objectives. Ten is probably more than enough.

What are the threats?

What outside forces could negatively affect your business in 2017? Similar to the opportunities above, think about industry trends. New technologies. Exchange rates. Regulatory changes. One or more customers leaving you. A new competitor entering your market.

What could/should/must you do to defend yourself against these threats?

For example, imagine that a government regulation will eliminate 40% of your customers in 6 months.

Significantly increase sales and marketing efforts in non-government areas.

If you do NOT achieve this, how much could your business be HURT? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much money / effort will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Lots  Little

How much time will it take to achieve this? Circle one: Weeks  Months

How certain are you that this can be achieved? Circle one: Very  Unsure

Is this consistent with your corporate aspiration? Circle one: Yes  No

Who from your team would be responsible for this?

Use this worksheet and write down as many as ten potential objectives.

Great job! You’re two-thirds done. See you tomorrow for Step 3.

Busines Planning Season. Ugh! :-(

For Business Owners Only

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I’m supposed to be thinking about 2017. Charting a course. Setting direction. Yada yada.

But business planning sucks.

It takes too much time. It gets too finicky and complicated – especially the numbers. And worst of all, business planning never turns out the way I planned. So why bother?

Yup. I agree with everything you just said. Business planning IS awful. In fact, there’s only one thing worse than planning. And that’s NOT planning.

I think I have a solution. Let’s do a 10/10/10 business plan. 10 minutes today. 10 tomorrow. And 10 the day after that. I guarantee you’ll have a plan.

It may not be perfect. But no plan is.

It won’t be long. But who wants a long plan?

It WILL show your clear priorities, and you WILL be able to use it every day.

Guaranteed.

‘Kay? Let’s do it!

Take 10 minutes and write 2 sentences about your company’s aspiration (use this worksheet if you like).

Yeah, it’s only two sentences, but take your time and use the whole 10 minutes. It’s important to get the RIGHT two sentences!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do we want our company to be in 5 or 10 years?
  • Who do we serve, and why do we serve them?
  • What does our customer’s success look like? How can we help them achieve it?

Make your two sentences inspirational. Uplifting. Write them so that your staff and customers can connect to them emotionally. It isn’t about money or numbers, it’s about something greater than ourselves and the day-to-day activities we do.

Imagine you’re with a class of sixth-graders. Their teacher just asked you, “What is your business trying to achieve?” Answer simply and authentically.

A bookkeeper might say, “We love helping small businesses succeed. We take their numbers and turn them into awesome information. We want our clients to unhesitatingly recommend us to other growing businesses.” Yeah. I know. Three sentences. Believe me, it’s fine… 🙂

What about a sheet metal manufacturer? “We want to be Vancouver Island’s most innovative sheet metal manufacturer. If a business problem can be solved with sheet metal, we want to be there.”

A carpenter. “I love making people’s homes warmer and cozier by adding wood finishes and furniture. When Victoria homeowners think of renovating, I want them to think of me.”

Need a hand getting started? Write “We want to become…” and see what shows up on the page.

You’ve got 10 minutes. Print out this worksheet, and I’ll see you tomorrow for Step 2.