Planning for the Future: Create a working plan for your business
Many people write a business plan when they begin a company. Others write a marketing plan or outline quotas for their sales representatives. If you don’t have a yearly plan, you should begin to write one. Starting now.
As you are aware, economic conditions have changed drastically over the last year. With multiple sectors of the U.S. economy feeling the pain simultaneously, there is even more need to have a plan that reflects the changes in the market place. Your marketing and business plan should include expected sources of revenue, method of sales and marketing, sales and business goals, as well as any other pertinent items that will keep you focused amidst the storm.
You will be stronger and more focused with a plan. As Paul Arden said, “Without a goal, its difficult to score.” It is the rare person or organization that achieves its goals without a calculated plan that defines what they want and how they will get there. You are no exception. By writing the plan you will make it crystal clear in your own mind what you are trying to achieve.
In addition, the plan allows you to think through how you will sell your product or services to meet the revenue goals you have set forth for yourself. Furthermore, it can outline additional items that you and your management team feel are relevant. Lastly, but most importantly, the plan clarifies your goals so that you can stay focused irrespective of a tough day in the stock market, or bad news in the general economy.
Ideally, your plan should be a marketing and strategic business plan that should be revised or re-written each year based on market changes, including changes to your selection of products and services.
Here are a few suggestions to help you put together an effective plan:
- Make it for one year, but adapt your strategy throughout the year as needed.
- Begin with an executive summary discussing what you have accomplished in the past year, and what you want to accomplish
- Be specific about what you want, i.e. $20 million in total sales, average profitability of 20 percent, etc.
- Once you have outlined the very specific goals that you want to achieve, and then you should outline how you will achieve them. What products or services will you sell, to whom, and in what quantities?
- It is important to have a qualitative section: How will you motivate your employees to achieve? Will you provide performance based compensation? What ways will you show them appreciation irrespective of large dollar amounts? What do you want your construction team to achieve? Better efficiency and safety could be two very important goals that add to your bottom line.
- You should also discuss what are the best-selling and/or most profitable products or services and discuss ways to make those work for you.
- Also focus on what you can do to make your company stand out. If you have a competitive advantage in something over your competition, make sure you accentuate and market that trait without hesitation!
- In closing your plan, reiterate your major goals with bullet points. Make it concise by picking the top five. This will heighten your awareness of what you are trying to achieve. Summarize the plan and the expectations for this year.
It is important that your goals be realistic. You may want to sell $20 million worth of business, but $14 million may be more feasible. Reach for the stars, but make goals just far enough to stretch, but not so far that they are impossible. Impossible goals often create discouragement among managers and sales people. If you have a large sales staff, it will be critical to sit down with them and discuss conditions and ways to improve and grow, instead of just dictating a number. You may also find better results from them if they have some input in their sales quota for the year.
Remember too, that it is not the length of the plan, but whether it clearly articulates what you want that matters. So get started on defining your goals for the year. You might just get lucky without a plan, but why take the chance? Set yourself up to be focused and successful in 2009, and keep your eye on the bottom line.