Some key frustrations of small business owners have been identified as:
- Lack of progress in growing the business
- Wanting to take the business to the next level but unclear on to how to do this
- Implementing change – creating a plan of action and sticking to it
To add to this – often there are personal frustrations too:
- Too much time consumed by the business
- Weekends and evenings impinged upon because of business commitments
- Friends and family time reduced
Sound familiar? If so, let’s take a look at how the practical step of creating a plan of action – can help to ease the way forward – and ultimately help business owners create businesses that provide them with a particular lifestyle of choice.
Plans are nothing, planning is everything – and implementation is follow through…
In a business era where long-term fixed business plans don’t often work for a business that needs to react quickly to market change – plans are still necessary.
Having a focus – a path to follow, however short or long term that plan may be – helps to ensure that a business keeps on the right track, something to focus progress – and importantly, measure success against. Plans can be flexible, fixed, changed on a monthly basis – whatever works for your business. But you need a strategic direction.
Creating your plan is one thing, and in my view, a significantly important part of the process – but what is absolutely crucial to success – is implementation.
Fail to implement and nothing happens.
So let’s take a look at first things first…
Creating your plan of action:
Start with research:
Take a step back from your business and consider your business with an outsider’s viewpoint. Be brave, immerse yourself and get that ‘hands on’ understanding that an external consultant would, if they came in and assessed your business from an impartial position.
Once you’ve got a feeling for what’s currently happening – and an idea of some of the sticking points (believe me, spend some time with your people, in the office(s), listening to calls, customer interactions – you’ll be amazed what you pick up on). I bet you’ll find at least 30 things you’ll want to change or improve on.
Apply a clear direction:
· What objectives have you set for your business, your financial, personal and strategic goals?
· Do you have a plan in place?
· Are all those responsible for delivering those objectives up to speed with the strategic direction – your plan?
· Who is responsible for what? Are roles clear, and are they aligned with the goals of the business?
· How is the business functioning – what processes are in place?
· Do you have the right people doing the right things? If you do, are they happy – are your business processes working for them? Ask yourself, how you know this?
Get a plan in place
- Run an ‘audit’ on your business – look at each of the critical functions, assess how they are working and whether there are ‘gaps’ to fill.
- You are not on your own, get other people within your business involved. Run team research to assess how the business is working for them. It’s incredible how what they say often translates with what the market is saying. And who knows, you may have some hidden ‘rainmakers’.
- Create a plan of action – call it what you will, Strategic Plan, Business Plan – whatever, but have a plan in place. Something that you can revisit to keep you and others involved, on track.
Key to it all…implementation
Implementation is the difference between talking about it – and getting on and doing it. Once you have a clear direction – then you want to ACTION your plan. Be very specific when drilling down to how you are actually going to achieve your objectives. Question everything – and drill down until you know how it is going to happen, how it’s going to happen and who is taking responsibility.
Provide clear action plans for those responsible for implementation, plans which include timelines – so that you can keep a track of when you expect certain elements to be in place.
As a business owner – not failing to implement means including excellent and effective project management into your ‘repertoire’ of skills.
Someone once said to me – those who don’t aim for anything, hit it with incredible accuracy! Wise words indeed, so know what you want – plan it out and then get on and do it!