A couple of months back I met with a prospective client (who have since hired me) to talk about their business and why it wasn’t going as well as it could.  They sent me their business plan ahead of time so I could familiarise myself with their situation.  Their plan was very comprehensive and while there was nothing too much wrong with it, the plan was long and was obviously produced from a corporate template of some description.  (They hadn’t completed a couple of sections fully as they didn’t know what they meant)

In my opinion it is not necessary to write a long plan.  Better to keep it short and focused on the critical things that need to be done in order to move the business forward, or address critical problems.  Too many people focus on producing a nice looking and reading document and miss the main point of planning.  Fine if you need to put something in front of the bank manager, but for internal consumption; less is definitely more.

Planning should be about setting out the steps needed to move you from where you now to where you want/need to be.    A coach that I have used in helping me with my business, Taki Moore suggested the following 5 principals when talking business planning:

1. Plan For Action

Keep your plan to 1 page.  Think “strategic ACTION plan”, not strategic development plan.  What are the specific actions that you need to do next week to move an essential project forward?

2. Call a Time-Out

Make a time each week to take a short breather to reset your mind, list out the tasks needed for the next week to move a current project forward and commit this to paper.

3. Review Forwards

Look at where you have been tracking for the past year and extrapolate that forward for the next year.  Is this where you want to be?  Is the track just flat, or even taking you in the wrong direction?

4. Plan Backwards

As Stephen Covey says in his second habit; start with the end in mind.  Imagine the end game and then plan the immediately preceding action required to achieve that state.  Then the action required before the last one, then the one before that, and so on until you arrive at your current situation.  You then have a path mapped out before you to follow, even if you need to deviate from time to time.

5. Enter The 4 Altitudes

In flying terms, I mean 30,000ft, 20,000ft, 10,000ft and runway.  In planning terms this translates to 3-year vision, 1-year goals, monthly projects and weekly actions.  The aim is to have brief elements of each in your 1 page plan so that actions are aligned to longer term outcomes.

Contact me and I will help you put an effective, action plan together for 2014 that will help focus your efforts and achieve great results.  Email me at andy@tradescoach.co.nz or phone my office on 09 912-1901.

Andy Burrows – The Trades Coach