Thursday, April 23, 2009

The G2 Summit

Barack Obama has blazed through his first 100 days as President of the United States accomplishing many "firsts" along the way. This summer, Obama will experience another 'first' as he heads to Italy for the annual G8 summit. The G8 began as an informal way for eight of the world's most powerful leaders to get together. Today the goal of the G8 summit is not about quick fixes for complex problems, rather it is an opportunity to raise issues and plan how to tackle them.

While on a much smaller scale, businesses also have complex problems that require thought and planning. When you own your own business, planning is key. Without planning you are liable to drift off course, at best by being reactive to the minutiae of daily business life, or at worst – whiling away hours on facebook or with Oprah.

After starting our business, Danielle and I spent much of our early years mired in the weeds. Sure, we had done a comprehensive business plan when we started the company (you can’t take the MBA out of the girl!), but there is a big difference between a business plan and ongoing business planning. Although a helpful exercise, your business plan pretty much becomes obsolete the minute you finish it. Businesses are organic creatures, changing all the time. For us, there was so much initially to learn just to get a blanket out the door – how to make one, how to ship one, where to find our customers. Planning definitely took a back seat. Then, about two years in, we had what we called the G2 Summit. (That would be Danielle. And me.) We sat down and talked about our priorities for the business and began to look at our business in a new way. We made a plan and then executed it. A year later we had another G2 Summit and made up a whole new "to do" list for the year ahead. Annual planning was a huge change for us. Up until then, business planning meant looking, at most, three months down the road. Now we understand that by clarifying our goals for the year ahead we are better prepared to deal with issues that arise.

Now we have monthly planning meetings. We set goals. We assign responsibility. And we move forward. Even if you're a solo-preneur, there is so much value in planning. It helps you learn about your business, how the various parts work together, and how it might evolve. I find a lot of comfort in having a road map. All you need to do is follow it.

Now, if we could only plan our next summit in Italy.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

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