Over the course of this year I have been writing about the steps involved in creating a business plan.
Now that you have one, how do you bring it to life?
Start by taking the results of the SWOT analysis and creating a short list of goals for the company. Keep in mind that too many goals actually will hold back your company, as the focus will be too scattered. When conceiv-ing a goal, make sure it is specific and measurable. If this is not done it is difficult to strive to achieve the goal, and it is impossible to know if you have achieved the goal!
It is important to have all in the company own these goals. Consequently, this is work that might be done by a small leadership group and then brought to the entire company for review and discussion. The book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable,” by Patrick M. Lencioni, lays out a very effective process for creating ownership and buy-in in a company. An important insight to the leader's role includes making sure that all participants have their say before the decision is reached. Otherwise, it is less likely to have united support for the goal.
With a list of measurable and achievable goals in hand, the next step is to create a list of action items for each goal. These are the steps that are needed to to realize the goal.
Again, be straightforward and complete without being overly complicated. A short list of action steps that, if done, do help achieve a goal, is better than the “perfect” list that's onerously long, daunting and undoable.
When thinking of action steps for a goal it is often useful to start from the perspective that the goal has been achieved. Looking back, what had to have happened to be able to achieve the goal? Those are the stepping stones needed to reach the goal.
The clearer you get with the action steps the more likely you will be to achieve the goals. It is very similar to doing an estimate for a remodeling project. The more complete and thought-through the estimate the more successful the remodeling project.
For each action step, you need to determine what it would look like if the step were successfully achieved. In other words, make the results measurable. Absent the ability to measure the results, how will you know that the result has been accomplished?
What if you told a painter to paint a room but the discussion regarding the level of prep desired, coats needed for coverage and similar, specific need-to-know-to-be-successful items never took place. How would everyone feel when the painting is “done?” Get specific about the measurable results.
Each step needs to have a person who is responsible for making it happen. Lay this out in your action plan. By getting specific about who will pay attention to each step, the company will have a champion who will own the respective outcomes.
If the overall goal is to be achieved by a certain date, then what are the dates that the action steps need to be completed? Getting clear about these dates while the action plan is being created allows less wiggle room and helps everyone manage the realization of the goals.
In the absence of a deadline-driven schedule, how long will a remodel take? Likely longer than anyone likes and probably with a lot of circumstance-driven compromise. Deadlines are lifelines, as they help us get done what we know we should be doing.
Do keep in mind that an action plan is not set in stone. You and your people have the ability to modify and update the plan as needed. The better the job crafting the action plan to begin with, the less likely it is that it will need to be completely redone.
You and your people have done a fantastic job of working “on” the business, which is hard to do because we are more inclined to work “in” the business. Michael E. Gerber has written so compellingly about this principle in “The E-Myth Contractor.”
What next? With the business planning process complete, your company is now ready to take a series of small steps which, when done, creates goals accomplished. Now you all can go get them done!
|Paul Winans, CR, works with Remodelers Advantage. He is a founder of Winans Construction, which he and his wife, Nina, sold in 2007. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.|