Following my recent article about how to do a business plan, I have been contacted by a number of business owners frustrated with their planning efforts. Having taken the time to formulate a plan they have not been successful in achieving their desired objectives.

In each case, I have offered genuine congratulations because many business owners either don’t plan or undertake planning without any real intent and the document just gathers dust and provides no catalyst for change in the business.

I say well done –  because acknowledging that things aren’t working is an important step forward. So, before I move on and break down some of the challenges, I thought it worthwhile to recap why we plan:

Your business plan provides a framework for developing your business model, guiding your decisions and identifying those key goals and projects that will help you build a great business. It helps focus your attention and effort by providing a roadmap for your business.

However, the plan itself will not guarantee success and I have found these to be common issues when owners are struggling with implementation:

paralysis by analysis or failing to launch

In the words of Gary Vee “stop strategising and whiteboarding and talking to your brother about what your ‘gonna’ do and just start……… test and learn, test and learn”. I absolutely believe that you are better off with a ‘B’ grade plan and ‘A’ grade execution than the other way around. The plan will be reviewed and amended over time as you learn through activity working towards your agreed objectives. 

missing vision and mission for the business

What is the grand vision, what is the defining goal and where do you want the business to be in five or ten years? Being able to clearly and succinctly explain these attributes of your business can be a powerful driver for your team and customers and provide a real point of difference from your competitors. 

failing to define what you want from the business personally?

The business should exist to serve you.

Taking the time to determine exactly what you want from the business is essential. This isn’t just about financial rewards, if you want every second Thursday afternoon off to watch your daughter’s netball game then put it in the plan.

Get specific and build the business around your requirements – you will be amazed what a positive difference this makes when you start delivering these personal outcomes.

too many goals

Don’t fall into the trap of setting too many goals, this is a recipe for failure and will compromise the successful completion of all activities.

Three or four main goals for the next year is plenty. Any more and focus will be lost as you risk making everything a priority. Remember the SMART criteria, setting stretch goals is great but setting unrealistic ones is just setting you up for failure.

stopping when you hit the hurdles

No one said this would be easy. Things will happen that knock you off course and test your resilience. Remember, don’t lose sight of the goal, just change the journey. Just like sailing a boat, when the wind shifts you change course to keep moving towards your destination.

This is why business plans are living documents. They must be constantly referenced, and the actions and activities required to achieve goals may need to be amended.

lack of communication

It has been said that the biggest mistake with communication is thinking that it has occurred. Did you include your team in any aspect of the planning or have you taken time to properly explain what you want to achieve and how they can contribute? Have you outlined the changes that will occur and why? Having your team engaged and on board with your plan is critical to its success.

Your business plan gives you the framework for effectively communicating with your team.

no accountability

Having the plan is one thing but who is supporting you and holding you to account.

To get the most out of your plan you need someone independent to hold you accountable as you work towards achieving your goals. Your business partner or spouse is not independent as the relationship is too forgiving. By having someone independent hold you to account and support you along the way you are far more likely to achieve your stated goals.

what to do if you feel that you have lost direction?

The best way forward is to block a couple of hours out and review your plan.

Revisit the points above or revisit the entire process by following this link. Everything you needed to know about business planning.

Be honest and precise when putting your plan together. There is no point in kidding yourself. If you want to improve your business and achieve your goals, then be honest about where you are starting from. Involve your team with reviewing the ‘now’ to hear the real truth.

Remember, no plan will ever be perfect, it’s impossible.

The important thing to do is just start, you can update and adjust your plan along the way. Follow your plan, focus your effort, review your numbers regularly and you will be amazed at the progress that you and your team can achieve.

If you would like to learn more, book a planning session or have a plan that you would like to review please feel free to give me a call, I’d love to help.