Home Column Andi Gray: Planning in longer time frames

Andi Gray: Planning in longer time frames


We’re not focusing down the road; we’re completely concentrated on what’s right in front of us. We’re way too reactive and our ideas about what to do next seem to change from day to day. I know this won’t get us where we want to go. Any suggestion on how to make changes?

THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Entrepreneurs are capable of great focus and often it’s way too short term. It’s easier to recognize progress when the mileposts are clearly marked. There are key questions to answer when creating a roadmap for others to follow.

Entrepreneurs love action and tend to eagerly leap into the fray, willing to deal with uncertainty and create solutions as they go along. Unfortunately, others who are trying to follow along may get lost. And missing warning flags can be dangerous. Documenting goals and making plans make it possible to measure and manage progress.

Confidence is increased when one can gauge how well the business is doing. Mapping out a set of goals ahead of time provides a necessary frame of reference that can be used to measure real-world results as time and events unfold. Anticipating challenges and documenting how to handle them makes it easier for everyone to recognize and deal with bumps in the road if and when they occur.

A written description of what the business will look like in the future is a tool you can use to communicate with your team. Writing out a plan also forces you to deal with gaps and inconsistencies. Building a plan with mileposts can be a great exercise that brings the whole team together, aligning around a common set of goals, brainstorming the best ways to get from here to there.

Think of building a plan as being similar to preparing to take a journey. The map and guidebook may not tell you exactly who you’ll meet or what you’ll experience, but they will tell you where to stay, when to refuel and recommend sites to visit.

When laying out a plan, it may feel like you’re guessing. That’s okay. Just make it as fact-based as possible. There are broad areas to review, and specific questions to answer.

Look at resources available considering challenges and goals you’ll face.

• Where is the business headed and what are its progress milestones?

• What additional expertise and resources are needed? What gaps exist?

Write about social and economic changes, which can cause a market to shift dramatically. Make notes on legal and political constraints and opportunities.

Describe the complexity of your sales process. Energy to fuel growth is influenced by several factors:

• Number of options available to the buyer;

• Number of decision makers and their

• Ability to clearly demonstrate value;

• Urgency tied to finding and implementing solutions; and

• Depth of resources held by competitive solutions.

Growing profitable sales is essential to any healthy business. How likely is it that yours can grow year after year?

Describe how customers and suppliers may respond to varying conditions.

• How easy will it be for customers to switch to a different solution? Easy switching is
more dangerous.

• How many customers can you appeal to with a single solution? Usually the more the customers the better as long as you don’t lose focus reaching out to them.

• How much control will you have over suppliers? How much notice before they increase prices? Can they withhold solutions? Can you block them from providing favorable treatment to other companies? What are chances they’ll be able to go around you and appeal directly to your customers?

• How hard will it be for competitors to enter the market? The harder, the better.

What’s the opportunity for your business to reliably and profitably serve a loyal, appreciative customer base?

LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “Strategic Planning, As Simple as A, B, C” by David R. McClean.

Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., StrategyLeaders.com, a business-consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? WCall or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535. AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com.

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