We have all heard the terms mission, vision, and values. As leaders is is our primary responsibility to have those clearly defined and articulated. (If not, another exercise for you!!) But as we grind the daily wheels in our businesses, we often forget to keep an eye on the future as we handle the daunting fires of today. I love Mike Tyson’s response when asked by a reporter whether he was worried about Evander Holyfield and his fight plan he answered; “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Welcome to the real world of business.
“Is what I am doing right now moving my business towards our plan?”
How many businesses have a written (and communicated) 5-year plan? 3-year? 1-year? There in lies part of the problem. I remember my first business plan with all its complicated and intricate detail. Plans, details, financials, assumptions, risks… whew. Not perfect by any means – but it was a plan (Actually it sucked – gotten a bit better over the years 🙂 ). Yet, I speak with business owners and leaders every day – and if/when I ask, sadly most don’t really have a plan. I get various flavors of just do it better and sell more and make more money. That is extremely scary. Real world “being busy” will become (does become) the de facto plan.. and that plan my friends does not work. We have all tried that misery. Stop right now, pause – and think – “What is my 3-year? Do I have a 1-year? Don’t panic! Let’s start! Get out 1 sheet of paper. Just start.
“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” – I love that quote by Patton!
(Known for his brilliance on the battlefield, Patton often had to make decisions based on limited information and time. But he knew to avoid “paralysis by analysis” and make a decision and execute it the best he could. Otherwise, the enemy might be able to maneuver faster and beat him). Simple points and statements ruthlessly executed will always crush an over-processed over detailed plan! Never forget that.
Let’s start with where you want to be in 3-years. Keep in mind, you will blink and 24 of those 36 months will be gone; so make this goal (target) realistic! “I will be at $5M in Retail Sales for the calendar year ending 12/31/2021.” Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant, time-bound. (SMART). Now you do the same. Keep it simple. Keep it concise. Keep it precise.
Now that you have that 3-year picture -frame it! Now let’s take a crack at what you absolutely need THIS YEAR to achieve that picture. Keep in mind, that this 1-year plan will set the stage for year 2 and eventually year 3, so anything you do this year MUST align and point towards that picture you just framed. Another thing to keep in mind – putting things in place such as processes, procedures, technologies, and people – are vital to your plan; so list them. What are your targets for this year?
I assume revenue. Profit (Maybe – Hard to be a high growth company and a high profit company at the same time; growth takes (re)investment – food for thought).
How about non-metric goals? “We will have a new website by the end of June, 2019”. “We will hire a new store manager Q1 to start Q2”. “We will have 4 new vendors selected for product sample evaluation by 6/30/19”. “We will have all showroom floor models displayed only reflect top sellers monthly”. I suggest 3-6 goals annual goals to support of your 1-year target(s). You don’t need 10. With 10 you will hit 1 – seriously. Less is more. If you have 10 – which 5 are an absolute must for the year to be awesome and successful? Write them down. Next – who is responsible for each? Assign accountability and ownership!
With the 1-year roughed out, what are you doing over the next 90-days to support that 1-year plan?
Most have a Quarterly revenue target. How about profit?
Now how about those steps you need before the next step is possible? WHAT??? No – not crazy. If you are going to run a 10K 12/31/19 – you need to start with new shoes. Attire. Diet. Warm-up routine. Daily exercise plan – all building towards that goal for the year. Those are steps I am talking about. What do you need to do now (this quarter) to set the stage for next quarter – setting the stage for the next and so on. For example – above I listed “We will have 4 new vendors selected for next rounds of evaluation by 6/30/19″. Maybe by 3/31/19 we will have met with 10 to evaluate – picking 4”. A great and logical first step. How about that new manager hire in place by the end of Q2. We need to have candidates in the door and interviewed Q1. How about new technologies – same here. What are my wants and must haves – maybe identify those by 3/31/19. Identifying, communicating and then executing and measuring on these Q1 “initial steps” will ensure progress towards that next bigger future step.
On one piece of paper – you have drafted a 3-year picture. You have identified a 1-year plan. You have then listed the must haves for this Quarter. You set a few firm targets throughout. As important as listing these items – you have assigned owners to each. Now over-communicate this to your team. Publish it. Gain alignment and buy-in. Stick to it!
Remember – as a leader, your plan DOES NOT need to be daunting and over processed. Any plan is better than no plan! Now and often ask yourself – “Is what I am doing right now moving my business towards our plan?” Even more powerful – is what I asked of my team moving us? As leaders – sometimes we ask others to row in the wrong direction! Now that you have a plan and this simple check phrase handy – encourage and communicate with your team often. Be humble and catch yourself deviating; holding yourself accountable. Alignment will happen. So will movement and momentum towards that 3-year picture! Have fun. Enjoy the journey.