Planning is a critical part of doing business. Often, however business owners get so busy doing, they don’t take the time to plan the actions they need to take to be really successful. Planning seems cumbersome and without full organizational consensus, are often not implemented. Many believe that planning isn’t effective and try to run their business moment to moment. Experts argue the contrary. “A business plan is also a road map that provides directions so a business can plan its future and helps it avoid bumps in the road. The time you spend making your business plan thorough and accurate, and keeping it up-to-date, is an investment that pays big dividends in the long term” (Enterpreneur.com, 2020).
Without planning, business owners get frustrated,end up doing a lot of rework and ultimately end up wasting resources on projects and activities that never bear fruit. Slowing down to plan isn’t just good business, it could be the difference between experiencing a steady upward trajectory or having a sputtering, haphazard road forward. But slowing down feels antithetical to the entrepreneurial spirit that encourages sprinting instead of a slow and steady pace.
Sometimes business owners only do an initial business plan to meet funding requirements, then they pack it away and never look at it again. If you have ever had to create a business plan you understand how intricate and detailed, they are. Comprehensive plans for a business overview often include; an executive summary; marketing strategy; competitor analysis, design and development section; operational and management plan; and detailed financial reports. A useful business plan allows owners and investors to analyze the data collected which will identifying specific projections of success. Once completed however, formal business plans are often never reviewed, revised or even read.
A business plan should be seen as a living document. Regular updates and revisions are necessary so that businesses can be more proactive rather than be reactive to changes in their marketplace. If a business started 2020 projecting growth, based on the most recent economic conditions, they wouldn’t have been alone. Most businesses started 2020 with an optimistic outlook, some might have been more conservative than others due to their specific industry, but most business owners were riding the positive waves of productivity and prosperity sweeping most global markets. Then the COVID 19 Pandemic changed everything, overnight.
The 2020 Pandemic swept the global quickly and in a matter of days, all the plans for 2020 were dramatically altered. Over the course of 6-8 weeks for most businesses, it was crisis management mode. Whether scaling back, shutting down or ramping up operations to meet new demands, business owners had to pivot and shift resources, capital, and employees immediately. Whatever they had planned to do was replaced with whatever they had to do to simply survive.
As the Pandemic scare begins to subside and businesses reopen, planning for the near future has never been more important. It is vital that planning for a business not be regulated to intangible wish lists and hypothetical responses to ‘what if’ scenarios. Instead, business planning consistently and more frequently can lead to immediate success and help a business owner establish long-term systems and processes for growth.
Regular and more short-term planning cycles allow a business to pivot and respond more effectively to external and internal changes. If an owner develops a healthy and productive planning process for their business, they have vital information at their fingertips at anytime. They don’t have to scramble to collect it when there is a crisis. They can then jump into action, based on data, facts and historical information, if something dramatic such as the recent pandemic happens to threatens their businesses’ well-being. Without a regular and consistent pattern of planning, business owners are starting from behind from the outset. Using business planning as a means to end means that planning becomes an organic part of your business, instead of a special event.
At ActionCOACH the largest business coaching organizations in the world, certified business coaches establish regular planning cycles with their clients. Because planning is critical for success and often sheds light on opportunities, ActionCOACHes worldwide use a systematic approach in which planning becomes a normal course of business. They develop planning habits through GrowthCLUB. “It’s part of our comprehensive business coaching system. GrowthCLUB is a unique approach to make planning regular and consistent”, says Brad Sugars, founder and CEO of ActionCOACH. “Market conditions are volatile and businesses have to adjust quickly. With new threats, like the pandemic, we have demonstrated to thousands of businesses just how critical business planning is regardless of size of the operation”, Sugars continues.
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