Strategic planning to take your business to new heights in 2014
When we plan our businesses for the year or even the quarter, we often get caught up in pie-in-the-sky high-level ideas about our company’s vision and we never actually execute. Or, we get so caught up in the minutiae of credits and debits that we lose sight of our broader purpose. To avoid the double-edged sword of strategic planning, consider these four suggestions to make 2014 a successful year for you and your business
Set your purpose
Why is your company doing what it is doing? What’s the higher purpose for why you’re in the business you’re in?
A great example is Wal-Mart’s motto, “We save people money so they can live better.” Don’t forget that Wal-Mart was a single store fifty years ago and is now the world’s largest retailer.
Your company’s purpose should be the guiding principle behind every business decision. After establishing your purpose, decision-making is easier because you know what your value proposition to your customers and to the market is.
As management guru Peter Drucker said, the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer—how will you do that?
Set your intentions
There are goals, and there are intentions. A goal is a definable business target for sales, profits, etcetera. An intention is the guiding principle or purpose behind those goals. We all want to increase sales.
You want to increase sales by 30 percent. Why? Why 30 percent? What will happen if you increase sales 30 percent? Do you want to reinvest 30 percent more into your business?
Think about it: “My goal is to have 30 percvent more to reinvest into my business, and I here is plan A, B, and C to get there. I am going to get there by the end of the year, whether I am increasing sales, or slashing costs, or following plan C, because my intention is to start next year with 30 percent more capital to redeploy into my business next year.”
If you do not have your intention aligned to your goals, then you run the risk of pursuing the wrong target. Pursue a 30 percent increase in sales with a reckless marketing budget and you may have even less capital to invest in new equipment then you do today.
Cut your losses
There’s a principle called the 80/20 rule. “Sure,” you say. “I’ve heard that one – 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your products.”
Or there’s the notion that 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers.
Most businesses remember to focus on their best selling-line or their top-grossing accounts. But there’s another side to the 80/20 rule: It’s probably the case that 80 percent of your headaches are from 20 percent of your products, customers, or services.
You need to focus your time and effort on what works for your business. Sometimes that means eliminating what does not work. Take a look at your worst product, or your worst customer, and ask yourself if you’d be better off without the headache. And then think about the most prudent and practical way to cut your losses and reinvest the proceeds in what’s really important to your business.
Every now and then, you need to pull up and write down. Write down five things. It could be once a day, it could be once a week. Try this out and see what’s productive for you.
- First, write down five ideas to grow your business. Find five cogent, constructive ideas, and be efficient with your time. You don’t need to find the solution on Day 1; the point is to iterate and improve day by day. Say, for example, that on Day 1, your first idea to grow your business is to start exporting in 2014.
- Then on Day 2, go back to that point and refine it – What will you export? Write down the top five products that your business could export. Then, on
- Day 3, write down the top five markets where you can export.
- On Day 4, write down who you know in your top potential export market.
- On Day 5 – now you need to do research – write down the top five customers that you should know, but don’t have a connection to yet.
- On Day 6, write down five ways you can build a relationship with your potential top customer in your potential top market for your potential top export. And continue the process.
Not every idea will work. But, sooner or later, you’ll come up with the idea that will work – and perhaps be your most successful initiative for 2014.
By Ranee Patel of Overhead Door Company of the Meadowlands and Shoum Chakravarti of Homefront Business Services. Overhead Door sells, installs, and repairs loading docks and overhead doors for residential and commercial customers. Patel can be reached at 973-471-4060 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Homefront Business Services helps businesses to increase profits by reducing costs and implementing tax strategies. Homefront also serves to support military veterans transitioning to the private sector. Chakravarti can be reached at 201-822-5580 or email@example.com .