Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Business Plans

What are business plans if it is not your best attempt at predicting what will happen with your business idea or concept and how it may turn out over a certain period?

As with any type of plan, the more specific the details the better the odds of the implementation stage being successful. I am often surprised at the vague plans with which people come up. After a recent talk I gave on business planning, the dean of a university business school who was attending admitted that even at her level of professional achievement, the business plans for different departments within the business school lacked the type of detail I was referring to. “I now realise that without being aware of it my team may see the business planning process as a bit of a ‘going through the motions’ process and hence the plans we come up with rarely contributes to the achievement of our goals.” This was a real eye opener for her and I am now working with them on their next series of plans to add detail and ‘realness’ to what they are planning.

How many of us have found ourselves carrying out tasks or processes for which we are not prepared. When this happens we miss the opportunity to perform at our best. Business planning helps us to be prepared for what is coming. Yes, I can hear you say that we don’t always no what is coming and cant prepare for everything. That is certainly true and imagine how tedious life would be if we could really see into the future, but being prepared for various scenarios, especially as far as resource availability and backup is concerned will go a long way towards you and your team turning the unexpected into a unexpected success.

This week, I’ve been reading two books that try to predict where we are going in terms of technology, our economy, health and culture. They are remarkable, exciting, and at times frightening, but they generally base their arguments on two fundamental assumptions. (I’ll be reviewing both books in my Blog in weeks to come, so look out for that. )

First, they assume that the future will tend to look like the present, only more so. They assume that trends and patterns continue over time, and so, for instance, they predict a continued focus on the environment. If your life continues the way it is, where will that take you? This is a vital question!

The second assumption is that people can and do change their minds. For our culture the future is to some degree unpredictable because people change direction. They learn from their mistakes and take corrective action. Nations and cultures, like individuals, respond to new information, make decisions and re-invent themselves.

You have that power! You have the ability to choose the life you want, if you are willing to do so.

The point is, you are in charge of your business and effective planning whether a business plan, growth plans or weekly performance or sales plan, puts your hands on the steering wheel of your business and ensures that you drive it to the destination that you choose!

When you look back on your life five years from now you will see that your business and your life is a combination of the trends and patterns can you today plus of course the changes you chose to make. Hopefully, your business or business plans will take into consideration what you read today. Hopefully, you’ll choose to continue many of the relationships, patterns and habits you’ve developed to this point.

I trust that you’ll choose some changes. I trust you’ll choose to up-grade some things, eliminate other things, and perhaps add a few new habits and beliefs. There may be skills you’ll want to learn, or habits you’ll decide to cancel.

The woman who talked to me after my speech was proud of the achievements. But she was embarrassed that luck, habit and momentum had played too large a role in her department. If you’ve allowed habit and momentum to run your life, I certainly hope you have that same kind of good luck, but don’t count on it! Take charge! Choose the life you truly want, develop a strategy to achieve it, and take action. This is your life. Make it a good one!



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