‘Plans are useless; planning is essential’ – Dwight Eisenhower
There can’t have been many logistical triumphs to rival D-Day, so the man who brought it all together is probably worth listening on the subject of planning.
Eisenhower’s genius was to recognize that no plan, no matter how well-conceived, will survive contact with the enemy. There are too many variables in play to truly plan for every eventuality.
Indeed, aiming for a Perfect Plan will end up being counter-productive, not only thanks to the inordinate amount of time involved but also because sticking rigidly to a comprehensive plan often leads to missed opportunities.
But no business can hope to succeed without at least some rudimentary plans. “We often work with young businesses that aren’t fully aware of the need to get some basic plans in place,” says Paul Beare.
They have typically started their business with a great deal of enthusiasm and ‘a dream’ – the big picture of what success will look like is off in the distance,” he says. “But getting there is a tricky business and they need to get the right plans in place to help them.”
Every business owner should be asking themself a basic question: ‘What are my goals for the business?’ Getting this bit right will help set you off on the right path. And, when setting goals, make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Timely.
- Set your long-term goals: these could have a timeframe of five to ten years.
- What’s next: think about the things you’ll need to do in order to reach those goals. Look at these in detail so that each step can be identified as a short- or medium-term goal.
- Be flexible: don’t feel as though you’re locked down to the plan or your goals. Things could change, and that will require your plan to change too. But having a plan in place to start with, even if it isn’t the plan you finish with, is vital.
- Get your KPIs right: these can help tell you how you’re doing against your goals, so what are the Key Performance Indicators you should use to measure your progress?
“We always tell our clients to set aside some time to planning,” says Paul. We all know it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day running of the business – orders need to be fulfilled, staff need managing, suppliers need to be paid – but even if it’s an hour a week, taking time away from the hurly-burly to check your plan.”
It’s also vital to make sure your plans are feasible and resilient. That’s where Paul and his team come in. “We have experience of helping all kinds of businesses, and we often work with them to ensure they have sensible planning in place. Whether it’s tax, payroll, accounting or banking, we can sense check those plans and help them to achieve their goals. We’re there to make sure the basics are all in place so that the clients can work hard on achieving their goals.