I am regularly surprised by how many business owners/leaders operate without a plan. They simply make it up as they go along. I guess if you don’t know where you are going; any road will take you there. I sometimes wonder if this mindset is purposeful. It’s hard to hold someone accountable (including yourself) if there are no real markers for success. You can also apply any possible excuse to explain why the business isn’t more successful.
Without a plan your business is a like a tumbleweed blowing in the wind. You don’t know where it will end up and the course it takes to get there is subject to the whims of other forces. Unfocused effort only ever leads to frustration, miscommunication, wasted effort, poor financial decision-making, unnecessary stress and less than optimal results.
As a leader, you need to plan for the following:
- How you will stay on top of industry trends and changes;
- How your business will compete in your market in both the short and long-term;
- How you will stay connected to your existing clients and anticipate/meet their needs;
- Who you will target with your marketing and sales efforts and how you will make this happen;
- What constitutes financial success and how you will manage to these outcomes;
- How you will manage the natural risks inherent to your business/industry;
- How you will manage growth while maintaining consistent effective operations;
- How you will attract and retain the talent required to staff your business;
- How you will plan for contingencies should you greatly exceed or fall below your business expectations.
Leadership is hard work. You are paid to think not just do. Your people look to you for focus and direction. Without a plan they will stumble about and fill in the blanks on their own. Each person will have their own definition of what’s important and don’t be surprised if this is often different from what you want. The first person you need to hold accountable is yourself. Success is rarely ever an accident. You need to have a plan on where you want to go, if you want to have a decent chance of getting there.