Do you include your team when you draft your annual business growth plan?
A business plan is the key to your success. In it, you should include all aspects of your business and how you plan to achieve your short-term and long-term goals. If you don’t take the time to write it down, it’s not going to happen and you will fall far short of what you really wanted to achieve.
Today I’m looking at successful business growth planning and what it takes to build the right plan and then how to execute on it once it’s made.
First and foremost, it’s your business and it’s up to you to create a clear vision that inspires your team to take the right kind of actions. You can’t build your business alone. If you have employees, great – get them involved up front and tap into their brilliance. If you are a solopreneur and utilize the services of virtual assistants, sub-contractors and vendors it’s even more important that you surround yourself with the right resources and be able to articulate your big vision.
If it’s important to you – it will be important to them.
Without proper communication about your business goals (or them seeing what you’ve planned) it can be easy for team members to miss the mark when it comes to assigned tasks. Generally speaking, employees will do what they think is best – they just need you to tell them what the end game should look like.
What Goes in a Business Plan?
Your business plan should be inclusive of everything you’ll need to succeed. This document is like the road map you draw to success so omitting any step can get you all turned around.
Here is a quick breakdown of what should absolutely be included:
- The business concept. What service or product do you provide and how do you stack up against your competition? To find out, conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
- The business goals. What measurable goals do you have for your business?How are you planning to achieve them?How long will it take for each step?
- What are the markets you’ll be targeting? Include things like geographic locations, gender, education level, income level, established markets you can cross sell to or partner with, and any other information that gives a clear picture of who you want your business to appeal to.
- Talent review. Do you have the right people on the team, and are they capable of taking your business to the next level? Once you know your goals, review your existing talent objectively by looking at their performance over time and their potential for taking on broader responsibilities.
- Financing. How much money are you going to need to execute your plan and when does it need to be available? Include fixed costs of doing business such as rent, electricity and salaries as well as variable costs such as marketing, wages, travel and entertainment.
- Sales. What is the dollar or percentage of year-over-year growth you plan to have over the next year? What profit margin are you aiming for? Spell it out in graphic detail.
- Competitive Analysis.Who is already in the market? How are they different or similar to your business? What can you learn from their presence in the industry? You shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. It’s best to identify your sweet-spot and serve them better than anyone else.
Why it’s Important to Talk with the Team
Once you’ve created the vision and big goals, communicate it with your team and let them help plan the best way to get there.
You hired them because they are the best & brightest, so let them do what you’ve hired them to do. Bring in outside experts to gain a broader and different perspective from someone who isn’t in the weeds. Aside from conveying the value proposition of your business to your team, the plan should detail essential aspects of your business that keep you from failing, which in turn keeps them employed.
Since nobody wants to lose their job, you’ll find the feedback and responses you get from your team will help you in more ways than you expect. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves and work with a leader who respects them.
Sharing the plan taps into your team’s skill set(s) but also makes them feel more included and willing to aide in the overall success of the business.
Your team may share valuable insight into your business you didn’t even know and that can certainly lead you to change other aspects of the plan. While it’s important to maintain controland lead the team, you may find that including the team when planning macro-level objectives creates a much more productive atmosphere.
Managing the Plan
Creating the plan is your first step. Sharing it with your team and revising it based on feedback is a great second. Now it’s time to manage the plan.
Do you use a project management system? If computers are a big part of how you run your business then this step is quite easy.
Whether you pick Asana, Zoho, Basecamp, or any of the many other project management systems available,you can section out each piece of your plan and have team members collaborate on the goals within the software. Or you can go “Low-tech” and use Excel or Microsoft Project to track each step.
The point of this is to keep track of all team activities and share those with everyone. By taking the team-managed parts of your plan into a project management tool, you can evolve and grow the plan. This way all members will always be on the same page.
Sometimes variables shift and priorities change. When they do, your team needs to know so that nobody gets lost working on something that no longer factors into the business and your goals.
By using a project management tool, you save yourself from losing sight of collaborative planning and your team from losing sight of your goals.
Schedule a weekly or monthly meeting where you review the plan with your team and include any aspects that have changed. This is a great time to provide guidance, remove barriers, reassign roles and course-correct if needed.
Bring questions for everyone and ask them to bring their own questions too.Let the team member responsible for a goal give a progress update to the group. By engaging in a consistent dialogue, you show respect for your team’s input, and you make sure they’re striving to achieve your business goals.
A great extra tip I like to include but you won’t find elsewhere is to include your employee’s individual goals in a performance management goal sheet. While providing feedback on a regular basis, review their performance either semi-annually or annually – in writing – to provide recognition and constructive feedback.
I always like to include discussion around behaviors during the performance review meeting since attitude is so important. If someone is a hard-driver but is so harsh or arrogant that no one wants to work with him/her – then they aren’t going to achieve near as much as they could if they had an attitude-adjustment!
If your business plan includes helping your team grow as the company does, you have a higher chance of retaining employees and succeeding as a business. Always know the answer to the unasked question “What’s in it for me besides a paycheck?”
By having a business plan that is inclusive, you benefit from creating a communal atmosphere that encourages teamwork, which helps businesses grow. If you’d like help with your business plan then please get in touch and I’d be happy to assist.