I recently met with a business owner who was complaining that he was tired of just barely surviving for the last 15 years. I asked him, “Why do you expect a different result when you keep doing the same things?”
Too many business owners don’t have a plan to succeed—so they don’t.
It has become obvious to me that there is no such thing as luck when it comes to becoming successful. But hard work by itself isn’t the answer. I have watched many businesses fail, even though the business owner worked 80+ hours per week.
The formula for business success is hard work + a good idea + a success plan.
A success plan is used by business managers to help guide the business in specific directions. Whether your business is large or small, just starting out or long established, developing an annual success plan enables you to:
Make crucial business decisions that focus your activities and maximize your resources.
Understand the financial aspects of your business, including cash flow and break-even requirements.
Gather critical industry and marketing information.
Set specific goals and measurements to assess progress over time.
Expand in new and increasingly profitable directions.
Be more persuasive to funding sources.
An annual success plan is essentially a map to your targeted destination. Ideally, it gets you from your starting point to your goal. It gives you a clear idea of the obstacles that lie ahead and points out alternate routes.
Many people view the annual success plan as a chore when in fact, it is an opportunity. While creating your annual success plan, you have the chance to 1) learn about your industry and market as it is currently, 2) gain control over your business, and 3) obtain a competitive edge.
The annual success plan process also helps you, as the person most responsible for the growth of your company, gain more control over its short-term and long-term progress.
While developing your business success plan, you’ll increase your understanding of the many forces that have an impact on your company’s success, which in turn will give you a greater sense of control. An annual success plan provides mechanisms to enhance your management in these areas:
Marketing. By developing a marketing plan based on a well-defined target market and evaluation of your industry and competition.
Operations. By evaluating and establishing the procedures, labor deployment, and work flow necessary to run your business from day to day.
Finances. By realistically projecting income, expenses, and break-even points, and by creating channels of information to keep you fully aware of your financial picture.
Long-term development. By setting specific goals and objectives; identifying milestones; devising an exit plan, if appropriate; and determining how your company will respond to both internal and external changes.
By evaluating and refining your business concept, you will be far more effective when conveying your message to your target market. Customers will be better able to distinguish your company from the competition. Sizing up your competition gives you a better sense of how to position your company more competitively.
A good annual success plan saves you money and time by focusing your business activities, giving you more control over your finances, marketing, and daily operations, and helps you raise the capital you need. Virtually no other endeavor propels you as far forward in your business as building your annual success plan!