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Business planning is a waste of time!

By Andrew Smith | August 31, 2008

How often have you heard someone say: “Business planning is a waste of time?”
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Perhaps you have said it (or thought it) yourself?
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But what if you have got this wrong? What if you are not seeing the right picture?
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To help you understand the benefits of smart business planning, let me go over a few brief points. You will then be better informed to decide what’s best for you and your situation.
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Who is my target audience?
Because you are reading this article, I’m assuming that you are directly or indirectly involved with a business or organisation of some type.
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This may be an existing business or a new business start-up. Or, it could be a non-profit organisation.
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What is your role?
Whatever type of operation you are involved with, it’s likely that your role involves some responsibilities. These responsibilities maybe performance related or you may be responsible for managing specific operational activities.
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If achieving results of some type is your role, then finding better ways to get things done, should be a part of your job description. 
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How you can do it better?
The proposition I would like to put to you, is that a simple smart business plan is by far the best way to meet or exceed result expectations. It is also the best way to systemise everything that can be described as operational.
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Let me now walk you through the preliminary steps of preparing a simple smart business plan.
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What gets in your way?
To begin, let’s look at some of the specific problems or issues that can be obstacles to how well you can perform your role.
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Or if you’re the business owner or the CEO, these could be the issues that govern your overall success.
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For commercial businesses, sales and marketing issues are frequently problem areas. I hear statements from my clients like, “Sales are harder to achieve and profit margins are getting very tight.”
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Staff problems of one sort or another are also frequently an issue.
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Other concerns are financial issues and coping with increasing levels of regulations and administration.
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For businesses and organisations that are coping and growing well, I get questions like “In what direction should we be heading?” or “The nature of our business has changed, how do we get organised to best manage this change?”
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Can you identify with some of these issues? Maybe you could add some additional issues or problems?
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Now let’s move the thinking forward.
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What is your desired situation?
When I facilitate a business planning session, I like to get the people involved into a positive focus as soon as possible.
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Typically I do this by asking the question: “What would this business (or organisation) be like if you could solve the pre-mentioned problems?”
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I get responses like:
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I (or we) would be more in control. Things would get done faster/better and without stress and drama

We would ‘have our act together’ and be regarded as a leader in our industry
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We work as a professional team, always focused on a great common goal”

In a period of an hour or so, I can usually draw out 20 to 30 vision goal that relate to the specific business or organisation.

Now I’m sure you could do this first part of a preparation for a smart business plan. So if you are serious about success, follow these steps:

(a) Make a list of the problems or obstacles that are getting in your way of performing better. Aim to identify your top six to ten areas of concern. Let’s call this your “current situation”.

(b) Now switch on your imagination. Visualise what the difference would be if these problems or issues were resolved. Again, you should be able to write six to ten sentences that describe what we could call your “desired situation”.

So far so good . . .  Now let me alert you to the trap.

Here’s where it can all turn to custard . . . and here’s how you can be the leader who understands how to build a roadmap to success

To begin with, let me tell you why many business plans are not simple and not smart. Because of this, the plan is doomed right from the start.

1. They are based on a financial model and not a people model. The plan contains pages and pages of spreadsheets and financial figures that are frequently pipe dreams. Many see a plan of this type as complex mumbo-jumbo. It’s a turn-off. Not a turn-on.

2. The plan frequently does not provide a specific understanding of how these wonderful figures will be achieved. Thus there is a credibility gap.

3. The plan does not take a systems approach to performance and goal achievement. Thus everyone does their own thing, and the consequences of inconsistency become the norm.

So what’s the better solution – “KISS”
KISS usually stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But for your business plan, let it mean “Keep It Short and Simple”.

I’m going to suggest you follow a simple and fast three step procedure. This is the basis of a method that I have called the Accelerated Planning Technique. The three steps are Dream it, Design it, Deliver it.
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Dreamit - Design it - Deliver it with APTPLAN.comAPT 3 Step Planning Method
In part two of this article, I will walk you through these three steps.

Andrew Smith
The Business Plan Guy
www.aptplan.com

Topics: Accelerated Planning Technique (APT), Business Plan Tips & Ideas | No Comments »

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