In one organization I worked with, they had three clear strategic priorities. That was good. But they had 27 initiatives under those three priorities. This was an organization with fewer than ten employees. How well do you think they performed on those 27 initiatives? You’re correct, not well at all. Once we focused back on the top three and built the top activities (and metrics) for the year under each goal, the team was able to execute and make progress.
To keep your people clearly focused on the goals, a two-page plan is the best process I’ve ever worked with. Why? Because there is lots of research that shows people with written goals and plans perform much better than those who don’t write things down.
Now, I am not recommending you prepare a 50-page business plan, although there are times when that is optimal, such as acquisitions or international expansion. Now, we did prepare a full business plan that was approved by the board and given to the bankers, but we used the summary plan to guide management throughout the year.
Want to grow your business quickly? Prepare a two-page summary growth plan with:
- Mission: the purpose of your business
- Strategy: who your ideal target market customer is and how you help them
- Marketing: how you will attract and retain your ideal customers
- Operations: how you will service them, and
- Finance: what financial and other resources are required to deliver value to them.
This isn’t just theory. It’s based on success where this focused approach has helped my B2B clients to grow by more than ten million dollars in a single year. Now, we did prepare a full business plan that was approved by the board and given to the entrepreneurs with written plans outperform those who are winging it.
Here are the main contents of your two-page growth plan that will guide your team and help you achieve your growth potential, increase revenue and profit, enhance your valuation, and keep everyone focused and aligned on the goals.
The most important section is a clear articulation of your business purpose. This is your mission statement. What do you do? For whom? Be specific. For example, mine is “To help growth oriented industrial B2B companies increase annual revenues by ten million dollars and triple their profits.”
Your mission statement will turn into your strategy. “Being all things to all people” is not a strategy; it’s the absence of strategy. To explain your strategy, talk about what you do briefly and the results you create for your customers in greater detail.
Your team needs and wants this information. If your mission and strategy are not clearly stated, your team will make up their own versions. Rarely will they be aligned with your version. Here is the test: ask your employees to explain your mission and strategy.
The next step is to clarify your goals and how you will measure progress towards them. How many goals should you have? If you are going to the grocery store without a list, how many things can you remember to buy. Probably two or three items.
Let’s apply this logic by setting two, or at most three, big goals for the year. The goals are divided into quarterly goals with weekly and monthly actions and progress checks. This is a simple “divide and conquer” process to maintain focus and progress on your goals.
When the goals are clear, management and employees can align their action and you can measure progress. If you are using a Flash report where you measure sales, production, and cash flow on a weekly basis, it will be easier to measure goal progress in real time. Set up clear metrics and post them for everyone to see. Celebrate learning experiences and small wins. That creates accountability and a performance culture.
In a two-page plan, we should now be halfway down the first page. What follows are more details for priorities and implementation.
The goals need to be broken down into the top three priorities for each goal that can guide each functional area while still maintaining a team approach. A team wins or loses together, based on the total score. This will help to avoid silos in your business and to promote communication and cooperation
The main functional areas in most businesses include marketing, sales, operations, finance, and administration. Common to larger companies are succession planning, risk management, governance, and formal wealth building such as dividend policies.
To improve the plans, your managers need to identify their top priorities to achieve the goals. This is extremely powerful because it forces them to make choices. Strategy is all about making choices.
Clearly and consistently communicating your mission and measuring progress on your goals is critical to creating a performance culture in your company. That’s the power of a two-page plan.
Full speed ahead!