Business plan

Around this time of year many of you will be thinking about next year, looking at your results so far this year and wanting to target next year and make it much better than this year.

It is the time of year that most of us consider writing our business plan.

I bet that you’re business plan first looks at intricate marketing programmes, developing new products or services and finding new suppliers in the hope that 2016 will give you a much better profit and you’ll have the edge on your competition.

I know that I used to do just that but then I stopped.

Why?

Let me explain….

Look at what you’ve been doing for the last 2 months….

Before my clients and I sit down to plan next year’s business plan, I ask them all to take a few hours out of their busy schedule and reflect on this year. It is often best to do this away from the office and family and this is why many come to me, not for help over tax or an analysis of their business performance, but just for me to act as a sounding board and challenge their assumptions in a different environment.

More often that not when I meet with them I come with nothing but a blank piece of paper and pen. Well actually, it is a magic whiteboard so we can get these ‘thoughts’ up on wall in

BIG LETTERS

The first things I ask of them is not to tell me their turnover, their costs, their profit or how much cash they have. No yet, but we’ll get to that when we discuss their business plan.

But instead all I ask of them is to write down their thoughts and feelings about their previous year.I want them to reflect on their performance, what went well, what didn’t?

If something went wrong, can we identify why it happened, and perhaps formulate a strategy for preventing a re-occurrence? This is what a business plan shows us, the results of our input.

If something went well, then we need to find out how we can replicate that routine again, to try and repeat that great performance.

Remember, the business plan and processes that we put in place to achieve it are just as important as the outcomes. I ask all my clients to tell me which activities they’ve enjoyed doing, which they haven’t, and why they have or haven’t.

And this becomes a long way before we start to look at the results of those activities.

Simply put, life is too short to spend it doing the things we don’t enjoy, even if this does pay the bills.

Instead I prefer to look at what was enjoyable that you’d like to do again and then focus on whether it worked and did it help to build the business?

You see, when we get into the nitty grity and look at the killer in all businesses, cashflow, we need to remember the things we enjoy about our work for when the going gets tough.

When it does get tough, we need to understand when and what causes cashflow to become tight, because only then can we structure how to manage the business in the preceding months before this. This is what a business plan shows us, how the inputs are linked to the outputs.

This is what we do at Accentis, you see, measurement is the key. And this is what we do with our business plan. We provide a benchmark in order to measure our results.

When we are planning, we establish Key Performance Indicators to measure and benchmark our performance and these need to be realistic with our goals . Then once we have set these we need to schedule these regular ‘check in points’ to measure progress. After all, then and only then, are we able to viably see and discuss how you’ve performed against a given benchmark and from this extrapolate the long term goals of next year.

This is what I do in my business, for my clients and in my personal life for my sport.

I measure, I monitor and I reflect on my input before deciding how that has changed the desired output.

Reflecting on your year will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and facilitate better planning for the coming year.

From my perspective, it really helps me to get inside the minds of my clients, to find out what really makes them tick and then I can try to help them. I help them like I do with my athletes and those I mentor in business (I’m British Triathlon coach and mentor for Richard Branson’s Virgin Group).

The biggest help I give clients, athletes and those I mentor is the ability to formulate a plan to help them to achieve their goals, their dreams, their aspirations. Then we all know where they are right now and where they want to be.

After than it is a simple case of gap analysis, what do we need to do, when and how in order to close that gap.

One thing is for certain though, if you don’t change what you do then you’ll only ever get what you’ve got. Then you won’t ever close that gap and achieve those goals, those dreams, those aspirations.