Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why it Pays to Plan

Recently, due to the G20 Summit, summitting has been all over the news. The goal of the G20 is not about quick fixes for complex problems, rather it's an opportunity to raise issues and plan how to tackle them.

While on a different scale, businesses also have complex problems that require thought and planning. When you own your own business, planning is essential. As a business owner, it’s very easy to drift off-course, reacting to daily business life without thinking about the bigger picture.

We are strong believers in writing a business plan. (Never did one? Take the time now – there are lots of resources online to help you get started, like this one from Ernst & Young.) However, there’s a big difference between a business plan and business planning. Although it's an invaluable exercise, your business plan pretty much becomes obsolete the minute you finish it – targets move, goals change, realities set in. This is where business planning comes in. The only way you’ll keep your business plan alive is with ongoing planning.

At Admiral Road, we didn’t hit our stride right away. There was so much we had to learn just to get a blanket out the door – how to make one, how to ship one, where to find our customers. And while we had spent the time on a comprehensive business plan out of the gate, regular ongoing planning definitely took a back seat. Then, about two years in, we had what we called the G2 Summit. (That would be the two of us!) 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 for the coming 12 months and then executed it. A year later, we had another G2 Summit and made a new to-do list for the year ahead. Annual planning was a huge change for us. It helped us clarify our goals, which meant we were better prepared for whatever came our way.

Down the road, we moved to monthly plans and weekly check-ins. We set goals. We assign responsibility. And we move forward. Don’t have a partner? Have a G1 Summit. It helps you learn about your business, how the various parts work together, and how it might evolve.
Running a business is definitely a trip – and we all know that trips are a lot more fun when you’ve got a road map. All you need to do is follow it.

Read more of Amy and Danielle's 'ask and expert' column on SweetMama

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