Your Strategic Plan Should Begin with a Personal Vision

strategic plan

In a privately-owned business, the strategic plan for a company is not based solely on the assumption that the company’s goals and vision are to maximise profit. The strategic plan for your company must begin with your personal goals and vision.

The problem of balancing lifestyle versus being the driving force in a growing business is a common dilemma among owners of privately-owned businesses.

Let me tell you a story that illustrates this point. A TAB member had grown her business from nothing to one doing over €3 million a year within three years. She was taking home over €100,000 a year. She hired a consultant to help her company develop a strategic plan for its growth. The plan laid out the steps necessary to grow the company into an operation with €15 million in annual sales in five years. The consultant showed her how the company would then have a value of over €9 million once the five-year objectives are met.

She told her TAB board of the strategic plan and expressed a personal uneasiness with the company goals. She explained that she was very content with the money she was making. She wanted to work fewer hours, not more. She also didn’t want to bring someone else into the company to run it. Nor did she want to do the travelling that would be necessary to reach the five-year goal. The advice of the group was to redo the company strategic plan so that it would, first of all, satisfy her personal vision, goals and plans. The revised strategic plan resulted in goals that maintained rather than increased the annual revenue, reduced some overhead and enabled her to commit less time to the company.

Do not ignore your personal vision when creating your company strategic plan. Too many business people have been caught up in the push to grow their companies, and they wind up miserable.

Many successful business owners that I have met say if they had to do it all again, they would take more time for themselves. I know that it is much easier to say after accomplishing what they have already achieved, but in advising other business people today, I recommend getting to know yourself first. Find out what will make you happy. After that point, you will be able to determine your business vision, strategic plan and goals that will point you and your business in the direction that will make you happy.

What is YOUR Personal Vision?

Learn how to integrate it into your strategic plan

 

Planning to Exit Your Business?

We all will exit our business at some point. If you are intentional about getting your business ready for sale or succession, here are a few questions and a major activity for you.

Start by working towards taking off three consecutive weeks. This means zero activity with the business. No phone, email, nothing. In doing this, you will be able to see how well your team does without you.

• Can they run the business day today?

• How about long-term?

• Can they take the business to the next level? The last question is entirely different as many leadership teams can run the company operationally but may not have the vision and/or experience to grow the company.

Can you take off three weeks? If not, what do you need to do to get there?

The next steps will be to think in terms of a six-month time frame and that your business is in better shape when you return. This adds significant value to the business because we know that businesses which are not dependent on their owner trade for significantly higher multiples of earnings than businesses who are dependent on them.  Achieving the goal of a six-months absence takes significant planning and taking advice from an external perspective.

 

Where Great Ideas Come From

The Wall Street Journal published a story in their Small Business Report titled How to Come Up With a Great Idea. There is no cookbook formula to this, however, the writer took an interesting approach in asking prominent business experts & entrepreneurs where inspiration comes from. Here are some of the ideas that jumped out:

  • If you think you’re too old to start a business, twice as many successful entrepreneurs are aged over 50 as under 25, and twice as many over 60 than under 20.
  • Make a note whenever you encounter a service of a customer experience that frustrates you. As one of the experts commented, ask yourself if there’s a better way.
  • There were many comments about seeking inspiration from indirect sources. Follow the arts, research other industries and talk to people you would not normally approach.
  • Find an idea to make the world a better place.  Think big.
  • Listen to customers & to front-line employees.
  • One of my favourites is to pay attention to history. Folks in the 1950s & 60s went overboard with instant coffee and TV dinners. Starbucks & Whole Foods looked back to a better experience. And it may not be profitable, but I’d love to have a domestic flying experience where I didn’t feel like one of the cattle.
  • And to add one of my own ideas to this, look to your data. As I wrote in an earlier blog, there’s gold in Big Data. 

Hopefully, your idea will work out successfully. But if it doesn’t, as Andy Rachleff of Stanford advises: Make sure you can fail fast and cheaply.

Of course, the idea is only part of the mix. As Thomas Edison said, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking, Fast and Slow would probably modify that to something like “success is 1/3 inspiration, 1/3 perspiration, and 1/3 Good Luck. In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahnenam, a psychologist who specialises in decision making and behavioural economics, utilises probability extensively in his research. He concludes there is just too much evidence to indicate that plain old luck has a great deal to do with success.

The WSJ also ran an online survey on what entrepreneurs do differently. They concluded that entrepreneurs agree with the following statements more than everyone else.

  • If I have to stop pursuing a goal in my life, I find it difficult stop trying to achieve it; I can’t let it go.
  • Past failure in entrepreneurial endeavours increases the chance that a new business will succeed. 

Entrepreneurs are a tenacious and optimistic lot.

 

Are You Choosing Chores?

Anson Thompson

Think about the time you wish you had to spend time with your kids (or your spouse, or even yourself). Do you wish you could attend their events, play with them and enjoy time doing fun things? Many of us are busy enough at work as it is. If we are also doing work on our home—painting, mowing or other chores which could be done by others—you are spending time away from doing things you wish you could do with loved ones.

What is that time worth? It’s likely more valuable than what your own hourly rate is. Ask yourself if it makes more sense or is justifiable to pay someone else to perform chores so that you can do the family things you want. If it makes sense to outsource these tasks, do so without guilt. Remember, we won’t be on our deathbed wishing we had mowed the lawn more often!

 

Build Your Unique Value

Art Miller

The long-term implications of selling on the basis of price is that you will likely lose your customers to a “dirty price cutter.” You must provide value in another area; price cannot be the primary value for customers. There is only one exception to this rule, and that is if you happen to be the low-cost producer of a good or service. Even then, price competition can destroy a market over time. Determine another way to be of value to your customers and then strive to be the best in the world in that area.