When you’re running a business, you always need one eye on the future. You can’t just coast on your current success, or you’ll be overtaken by hungrier, more coordinated competitors.
The art of planning for the future is a skill in itself: poor plans mean bad outcomes for your business, and even good plans that can’t adapt to meet changing circumstances could lead you into disaster. It’s not a skill you have the chance to practice much before you actually launch your business, so you have to get good at it fast!
Today we’re taking a look at how to make good plans for your business that will lead you to success, not failure.
When you’re building a plan, the first you thing you need to do is decide what you want. There’s a time for research, but research needs to be directed. Start by setting an overall aim: do you want to grow; save money by getting more efficient; enter new markets; launch new products; build your brand strength?
Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve you start to create a plan to get you there.
You need to base your plan on objective facts and figures. If you want enter a new market, you need to know there’s a demand for your products there or you’ll waste money on branding and advertising that you can’t recoup.
Try working with a market research firm – a brand tracker survey can show your brand’s strength relative to your competitors, and let you know whether they’re someone you can take on, or an unassailable Goliath to your plucky David.
Define Success and Failure
You now know where you want to go and your chances of getting there. You need to make sure you define exactly what success and failure look like here. ‘Growth’ is not something you can say whether or not you’ve achieved. What you can achieve is a doubling of your revenue, or footfall.
Knowing what failure looks like also helps you avoid it: make sure you know what a calamitous overspend means you can see the cliff coming and step back before you go over.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
When you’re constructing your plans, the best CEOs and managers know the strengths and weaknesses of their company and team. If you’ve got a lot of programming talent, it’s worth trying to generate revenue by launching an app, for example. If you don’t have that talent already on board, you’ll need to find another path to explore to grow and launch new products.