Business Plans? Who Needs It?
Recently, I met with a business owner who'd been running a business for a five years, but got to the point where he was frustrated that his business wasn't making much traction in growth and efficiency. He'd previously consulted with a local business consultant, who told him to turn his business around, he needed to create a "full, comprehensive business plan".
"How long will that take?", he asked the consultant.
"As long as it takes."
You've got to be kidding.
First, I can't stand pompous consultants with zinger lines like that. Maybe because I can't think of any zinger lines.
Actually, I don't recommend full business plans, anyway. Does that surprise you? Don't shoot the messenger. Put down the gun and keep reading.
Unless you are building a business plan for a large bank loan who needs to see a 'comprehensive' business plan, most mature companies are not well-served by building a full business plan. At least, not the 40 page, detailed business plan that take four months to build. Do you know what those are called? Bookshelf dust collectors.
Don't let this happen to you.
Let me illustrate by telling you about a marketing agency who created a detailed, comprehensive marketing plan a few years ago. On December 20th of the previous year, they started by gathering the experts, then went about creating a detailed document of strategy and tactics.
They started implementing the yearly plan in May.
And this was a marketing agency who knew what it was doing. Armed with 25 experts, and run by a very intelligent, funny, good looking, and fearless leader running the plan. OK, I admit it...the business was mine and the leader was me.
Hey, the 'fearless' part was true. And so was the five months.
Why not create a detailed business plan?
- Your business probably changes pretty fast. The details will change even as you develop the plan.
- Business plans that take four months, take four months out of your business.
- Those detailed business plans: who is really going to read them? Who's really getting behind them? Are they easy to follow? Is there room for changes?
What kind of plan do you really need? That's simple.
Most businesses simply need a clear picture of where they want to go and who they want to do it for, then figure out a very few success metrics, document it, roll it out, and have it followed by all.
- Plans can be developed in a series of days, not months. The leadership team commits to it.
- You document it with what is usually called a 'one page plan'.
- You share it with the entire company.
- You start tracking quarterly and weekly, while solving issues along the way.
- Everyone in the organization is accountable to it.
Where do you start?
Two systems that use this method are the Rockefeller Habits and the Entrepreneurial Operating System™ (EOS). Both are excellent, and I've personally implemented both at different times in my own business. Now, I focus on helping businesses implement EOS - I believe it's just a simpler system. EOS is used by tens of thousands of companies around the U.S.
Here's a few steps:
- Start by reading Gino Wickman's book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. Or, read the 'fable' version, which is a more interesting read: Get a Grip: an Entrepreneurial Fable. If you don't want to read the whole book just yet, watch this video about EOS from Gino Wickman.
- If you like what you are reading, start implementing it! Consider whether you want to implement it yourself, or whether you'd like an experienced EOS implementer.
- If you are interested in a getting a free copy of EOS's one page plan (called the V/TO or Vision/Traction Organizer), contact me and I'll send you one. I can also share many other tools used by EOS to get you on your way.