Get a plan & get it done

Do you know where your firm is headed?
Many years ago, Alice, who was lost, came across her mentor, deep in the forest. She asked him, “Dear sir, I am lost and need your help. Which way do I go?” To which he responded, “Alice, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Planning. For most small businesses it is an instant anathema. Who has time to plan? Who are the planners? What are the real-world results? Good questions. This month, we are going to present the “One-Page Plan.” Yes, you heard it, the “One-Page Plan.”
Time: It will take you about one full day, maybe a little more.
Planners: It should involve the CEO and those few key people who have the most impact in the firm’s marketplace.
Focus: Read on.
Most importantly, get away from the company. Go sit around a tree, or in a rock quarry. Go somewhere where day-to-day constraints are completely absent. Then attack it this way:
Start with a written description of your firm’s business. Get tough on yourselves. From your customers’ perspectives, what do you really do? What is the value they really receive from you compared to your competition?
What is your basic purpose or mission, said in just a few words? For example, at TEC (The Executive Committee) our mission is “to increase the effectiveness and enhance the lives of CEOs.” What is your basic purpose or mission for your customers?
For the next 12 months, identify goals (no more than three or four) that fit one or more of the following categories:

  • Business growth and profitability
  • Market expansion
  • Product/service innovation
  • Employee development
  • Cost containment
    Develop a strategy – a means – to accomplish your goals. For example, if a goal is to increase your sales by $500,000 over the next 12 months, then a strategy should put a “big picture” around that goal. That is, can we do it with our existing efforts? Do we need to add new efforts? Do we need to redirect our approach to our marketplace? Do we need to rethink the connection between our business purpose, our business goals, and our methods for accomplishing same? In short, what should be our strategy or strategies to reach this goal?
    Create an “action plan” to measure your strategy’s success toward goal accomplishment. Be hard on yourself. How will you measure what you have done? What will be the yardsticks of gain as well as loss? How will you communicate this to others in your company?
    Implement … Implement. Revisit the basic plan. Is it working? If not, change it. Put it on your business card. Maybe print it there for every employee, customer and vendor to see. But put it s-o-m-e-w-h-e-r-e where you will never forget it. It’s your plan. You can make it work. But remember, only if you have a plan.
    Harry S. Dennis III is the president
    of The Executive Committee in Wisconsin and Michigan. TEC is a professional development group for CEOs, presidents and business owners. He can be reached at 414-821-3340.

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