At the recent Westpac Auckland Business Best of the Best Awards, the four Strategy & Planning category finalists were all clients of profit and growth consultant Zac de Silva. He shares what he believes those four businesses share (besides his involvement) that make them strategic standouts and successful in business.
Not having a written business plan is like driving somewhere new with no GPS and no map. You’re setting yourself up for long detours, plenty of frustrating moments and the probability that you may not even get to where you want to be. It may sound like common sense, but I reckon more than 90% of New Zealand businesses don’t have a written plan, especially when it comes to SMEs. It is very unusual to find a SME who does have a written business plan.
A decent business plan is the difference between a business being successful… or not. Planning is important, which is why the Westpac Business Awards recognize it as a category and why I was proud of four of my clients for setting the standard across the 4 regions in Auckland for strategy and planning. (Congrats again to Establish, Link2 Services, Heart Saver and Career Academy for winning their respective area.)
So using these four successful businesses as an example, here’s how to improve the strategy and planning in your business for a more successful year ahead and long term future.
Each of these companies put some solid time into creating their business plan. They didn’t just jot down in haste for the bank manager – they carefully thought them through, debating and fine-tuning the details. Various staff weighed in and most of them actually took the planning off site, spending two days at a business planning workshop, dedicated to thinking about the future of their business. The power of time away from the office to truly think on your business is immeasurable.
Once they had defined their business plan, they looked at it regularly. Some companies might have a plan but it dies the moment they complete it, shoved away in a draw, never to see the light again. These four companies consider their business plan at least once a month, critiquing whether they are they making enough progress fast enough and whether their original plan is still the right plan today. Times change, so your plan needs to be real time as market conditions change.
I’ve seen at least two of these companies have gone so far as hanging an A3 version of their plan on their office walls, for easy referral and reflection. I think this is also a great way to get your team on-board, having a transparent plan to make it clear what the end goal is and the road map to get there.
Getting the team’s buy-in is huge for the success of a business plan. Each of these four companies hold regular meetings with their team to talk about the business plan – where they’re at, where they need to be, what’s changed etc. I find most businesses do this with their core team or executive team, but they forget about the rest. To me, the true power comes when everyone understands the journey and the part they play in that. Make a plan, involve your senior team, and then make sure your wider team know about it so they can help you action it. Each of these four businesses knows their true purpose for being (always around making their customers’ life better) and have done a really good job on sharing this across their company so that everybody in their team (from 10 staff to 300 staff) knows why the company exists and their place in creating this end magic for their customers.
Every good business plan needs to identify and outline 5-7 great business strategies that will get you to the long-term future you want. For each of my clients, those strategies identified became the CEO’s job description. How else can you achieve a goal if the leader isn’t focused on the strategies that will make all the difference to the business? With those strategies, I was then able to hold the CEOs accountable. Good lesson here: no matter what your position in business is, make sure you have someone to be accountable to. Someone who will remind you to focus on the right things to make your business hugely successful in the long-term.
Long-term thinking is another core trait amongst these four businesses. It’s so easy to get carried away with having to deliver sales, profit and cash in the short term that many business owners or managers forget to focus enough on the long term. The best businesses put a good amount of time into doing things today that will make them way more successful in the long term – but they have to have recognized what that long-term picture looks like.
To realise the full potential of your business, you need to have a well thought out, live business plan. There’s a reason why each of these Auckland Regional winners became the four overall Auckland finalists – they all have majorly successful companies: because they put the time and energy into creating a decent business plan that they refer to regularly.
If you’d like to go through same business planning and strategy process that these 4 winners went through, you should consider attending one of a Business Changing 2 day business planning workshop (facilitated by Zac). Details at: https://www.businesschanging.com/workshops/ or feel free to contact zac on firstname.lastname@example.org