The Keys to Your Success Plan, Part 1

Effective and consistent planning is a crucial component of success for any business. A well-crafted plan is made up of answers to key questions about the future of the business, about where you as the owner or partner want the business to go, and what it will take to achieve that end. Your plan is not just an exercise in dreaming, nor is it just for convincing a potential lender to cut you a check. Your plan should guide your decision-making, measure your success along the way, and keep you focused on a set of goals that you determine and you control.

So what should be included in your plan? At a minimum, the plan should contain answers to several critical questions, and I’ll be addressing these in this and in the next series of articles.

Begin with this: What do you want, and when do you want it? Sounds pretty simple, but you would be amazed at the number of businesses who struggle to come up with a coherent and well thought-out response. It seems to be something that we tend to overlook, perhaps because we think we already know the answer. Often the answers are more of a description of what products and services the business offers. Sometimes the answer involves making a lot of money, or building something that can be sold for a large payoff. While these statements may be somewhat true, I challenge business owners to go much deeper.

Getting serious about defining what you want means you will put some time into developing your answer. Why did you start your business? What are you seeking to achieve and why? What is the best possible outcome for your enterprise, your family and yourself? Who are you seeking to serve, and what problems do you want to solve?

Answers to these and similar questions are often defined as a Vision Statement. What you want and when doesn’t have to fit into a simple statement, but sometimes less is more. defines “Vision” as the over-riding principle that guides the organization. It defines what you want the organization to be. The Vision is often the dream of the founder or leader.

The creation of your Vision involves taking into account not only the current state of your business, but also where you want the business to go. When your answers to the above questions are summarized, they should outline what you want your organization to be in the future. It provides inspiration and focus by defining the end result for a specific period of time, usually 3-5 years.

Your Vision services as a framework for strategic planning. It doesn’t tell you how you will get there, but it sets the direction and pace. The Vision you cast should be expansive and idealistic, stimulating thinking and passion, while painting a picture of the business you want.

Vision should not be limiting or too analytical. It should articulate excitement about the future you want. A business without excitement will have difficulty getting others engaged and interested, so personal passion is a key element.

“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric.