It’s hard to focus on where you are when you have poor vision of where you are going.
So, the starting point to gain focus in your business today is to have a crystal clear vision of where your company is headed tomorrow. The vision I’m talking about doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be framed and hung on a wall. However, it does need to be communicated to everyone in your organization and it does need to be clear enough for everyone to understand. Your forward vision is a key component of a well written business plan. Without a business plan too many entrepreneurs resemble dogs chasing after cars. Every time something new comes down the street they drop what they’re doing to run after it.
Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be difficult to write. If you don’t have a business plan already you can get a good start on one by asking yourself the following four questions:
1. Where is my business now? Describe your business in a couple paragraphs: 2013 sales; the services you offer; primary customers or markets you serve; why you’re in business (mission); what makes your company different and better than your competition.
2. Where do we want to go in 2014? What is your sales goal; what customers or markets do you want to pursue; are you planning to add or abandon a service?
3. What do we have to do to get there? Keep it simple. No more than five or six big things (objectives). How do you plan to market your services; will you have to add people, equipment, or vehicles; what training will be needed?
4. What will it cost? The Piper always wants to be paid. This is your budget for the year, so budget wisely.
Your plan shouldn’t be a pie-in-the-sky view. Base it on things you’ll actually be able to accomplish in the coming year. Give it a logic test. If you plan to grow sales 50% or 100% are you really prepared to do so? Do you have the people to produce the increased work load? How will you pay your bills while you wait for your customers to pay you? Where will the customers come from? If your goals aren’t realistic and achievable you’ll be inclined to get discouraged or bored and lose your focus. Dreams are great, but business plans should be based on reality.
Once you’ve answered these questions be sure to go back and fill in the details of how you’ll accomplish your goals.
Everything you do in 2014 should flow from your answers to the above four questions. Everything you expect your people to do in your business should flow from your plan as well. This is what accountability is all about—both your people’s accountability to you, and your accountability to them.
When we don’t have a clearly defined direction to follow in our business, we default to walking down any path that lies in front of us. Too often we wander aimlessly for years on these paths before we discover they were leading us nowhere. Unfortunately by then we’re sometimes too old, too tired, or too discouraged to do anything about it.