I offer an online Business Planning product called “Your One Day Business Plan.”
It is a timed, video-based training and workshop product to guide small business owners in the step-by-step preparation of their Business Plan.
When I tell people about it, their immediate reaction is, “How on earth can you prepare a Business Plan in one day?”
Well, you can, because it is based on using your knowledge of your business and inserting it into a step-by-step formula that considers your goals and how to achieve them. If you bring your intimate knowledge about your business and where you want to take it, I will bring the formula that you follow.
But first, let me show you how you can prepare your Business Plan in one day.
Your ability to do this is based on:-
- You having made certain preparations beforehand like decided who will be involved, how far ahead you will plan for, and things like booking the date and the venue and printing the downloadable worksheets ready to complete.
- During the day, following the prompts and using the downloaded worksheets to capture your thoughts as you are prompted
- You understanding that “perfection is the enemy of progress” and pushing on to the next step even if you want to “polish’ your last sentence
- Approaching with an open mind to use your knowledge of your business, even if it doesn’t seem appropriate.
The day’s work should be capable of being completed between 8 AM and about 5 PM, with a few breaks in between. The schedule, and work content, is as follows.
8 AM TO 8.30 AM
You will be guided by the recorded “live” workshop commentary to describe the Vision for your business.
What do you want your business to look like when you have “succeeded”? What does it do? Who does it serve? Who works there and what do they do? What makes your successful business different from others? How does it reward you? Why do you want this Vision to be attained?
You will be asked to write a paragraph in the downloaded worksheet, a working “Vision Statement” that describes this successful business of the future.
Don’t forget, perfection is the enemy of progress – as long as you are clear what it is you are working for, the written description need not be perfect.
8.30 AM To 9 AM
As soon as you finish, you will be guided by the recorded voiceover to look at your Vision from four different perspectives, and using the worksheet provided, answer the questions:
- When I have attained my Vision of success, what will customers think and say of my business?
- When I have attained my Vision of success, what will my employees think of working there?
- When I have attained my Vision of success, what key business systems got me there?
- When I have attained my Vision of success, what will my financial position look like?
Doing this will quantitatively define your Vision from these four perspectives that are most important to your business. They are called “perspectives” because you must see your Vision from the standpoint of these four perspectives, first as a customer, then as an employee, then from the point of view of key business systems, and finally from the point of view of your finances.
You are in business to serve customers and keep them happy so they buy from you – their perspective of your business “when you have successfully attained your Vision” is critical to that success because you must meet their demands and needs to do so.
You cannot satisfy customer needs unless your team performs at the level required to “successfully attain your Vision” so how they perform and what they get out of doing that is critical to getting customer satisfaction.
In order for the employees to do their jobs at the world’s best standrads, then in order to help them and have you “successfully attain your Vision”, you must identify and invest in the key business systems that help you to do so.
Finally, getting those first three perspectives right will mean that when you have “successfully attained your Vision”, your financial performance will provide the type of financial reward you want.
Doing analysis will also provide you with clues about what you have to improve and how to measure future improvements.
For example, if one of the things you believe your customers will say about you is “responsive and knowledgeable service”, then if your service is not responsive and knowledgeable, you need to improve that. To measure how successful you are in improving this, you may decide to measure how many employees understand your product well enough to answer frequently asked service questions.
9 AM To 10 AM
Once again, all you have to do is follow the recorded prompts and you will be guided to review your description of the improvements you will need to achieve and then you will be guided to pick out 2 or 3 of the most important from each perspective.
These are key things you need to improve on in the next 12 months.
You should have chosen 8 to 12 “improvements” you need to make.
Then, you will choose 6 to 8 of the most critical ones, and turn them into Goals for the next 12 months.
The recorded guide and worksheets will show you how to write them in the format:
“Our goal is to (verb describing what you will do) in order to (objective) by (time).”
For example, the improvement of customer responsiveness might read “Our goal is to train all our service staff in order to answer 20 frequently asked questions from memory by June of next year“.
By 10 AM you should have 6 to 8 Golas for the next year.
10 AM to 10.15 AM – COFFEE BREAK
The recorded workshop is organised into “modules” that you can play at any time.
It does not assume a specific part of the program for you to take a coffee break, but this is a good time to take a break for 15 minutes before you start the next module.
10.15 AM TO 10.45 AM
The next module will guide you on identifying all the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of your business today.
You will be asked to write down on the provided worksheet, all your internal Strengths and Weaknesses, and all the external Opportunities and Threats that may affect your business.
10.45 AM To 11.15 AM
The recorded workshop will ask you to change your focus slightly and look at the current Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats specifically in your Customer base, your Products, and your Marketing.
11.15 AM To 11.45 PM
The next module will ask you to change focus again, and work on a list of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats affecting your Operations, Production and Administration sub-systems (physical premises, manufacturing or service delivery, accounts and records, legal agreements, human resources, etc.)
At the end of these SWOT sessions, you will have compiled a list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that you will later create strategies to take advantage of or protect yourself against.
11.45 AM TO 12.30 PM
The guided instructions will take you through the next 45 minutes to brainstorm strategies.
The idea is to find ways to eliminate Weaknesses, build on Strengths, take advantage of Opportunities that arise, or prepare to deal with Threats as they arise.
You will be guided on how to look at where you are now (the results of the SWOT Analysis) and where you want to go (the Goals you set yourself) to identify the gaps between the two and work out what you need to do to get from where you are now to achieving those goals.
For example, if your strength is “loyal employees” but your weakness is “not enough trained employees” and your goal is “to train all our service staff in order to answer 20 frequently asked questions from the top of their head by June of next year” then one of the strategies you may think of could be to “Organise a weekly training session for key staff and provide rewards for them during the training.”
12.30 PM To 1.30 PM – LUNCH BREAK
Again, the modules don’t signify a particular place to stop for lunch, but this is the most convenient.
1.30 PM to 3.30 PM
The recorded workshop allocates 2 hours to work on planning for the implementation of your strategies.
First, you will be asked to review the strategies you wrote down before lunch and make some short notes about the ideas you had when you were brainstorming them. In the example above, you may have thought of the weekly training sessions and thought of ideas to make it fun, or to reward them for their extra time, but not had the time to fully detail them – now is the time to jot down those ideas of how to make it work.
This will help you to now take each strategy in turn and write down the steps you need to take to implement the strategy.
You will be shown how to do this in chronological order, listing each of the actions that need to be taken. An Action Plan template that you download here will ensure that you focus on the outcome rather than just taking an action, by recording what the required result should be. For example, next to the action “Ask key service staff to stay behind every Thursday night for an hour to retrain on the 20 most popular frequently asked questions” perhaps you can identify the required result as “Every identified staff member attends and learns the answers to 2 FAQ’s every week”.
The Action Plan template also allows you to nominate the person responsible for each action step, and when they need to complete the action step.
3.30 PM TO 4.00 PM – AFTERNOON COFFEE BREAK
This would be a good time to schedule your well-deserved coffee break!
I recommend that this be a “long” coffee break because you would have been writing constantly for nearly 8 hours. Your brain and body deserve a stretch, so have a coffee and go for a short walk around the venue to get some fresh air, but make sure you’re back and ready to start the last stretch by about 4 PM.
4.00 PM TO 5.00 PM
The recorded workshop will get you to organise your notes and thoughts into a logical order.
In order to get your plan together, remember that the process has been to:
- (from 8 AM to 10.15 AM) identify where you want to go,
- (from 10.15 AM to 11.45 AM) understand where you are now,
- (from 11.45 AM to 1.30 PM) devise strategies to implement in the next year to help bridge the gap, and
- (from 1.30 PM to 3.30 PM) action-planned the detailed steps of each strategy
That is the logical order of thinking you need to follow to arrive at this position.
However, that is not the order in which your Business Plan is to be read.
In order to read and follow a Business Plan, the reader expects to:
- understand the overall outcomes (the Vision) but then to understand, in order,
- the goals set,
- the strategies to attain those goals and
- the detailed steps needed to implement those strategies.
So, we are going to organise your work into the following “chapters”:
- The Vision
- The Four Perspectives of the Vision
- The Goals
- The Strategies
- The Action Plans
- The Budget
- Appendices (all the other stuff)
The recorded workshop will help you to re-write your worksheets, notes and ideas in that order, in readiness to work on making your Business Plan a more descriptive narrative the next day.
If you get to this stage by about 5 PM you will be ready to complete the extended and readable Business Plan in another session, which shouldn’t take more than another 1 or 2 hours.
Before you finish for the day, write down what you have to do to finish this off, and schedule 2 hours in the next week to do it.
Or, I guess if you’re so focused and goal-driven, you could write on into the evening and finish it all in one day!
What will this One-Day Business Plan do for you?
Investing a day to prepare your 12-month Business Plan will provide a great Return on Investment.
You will be much clearer on the ultimate goal for your business – what success means to you, and what direction to take to get there, as well as what to do in the next 12 months to start that journey.
Having this clarity will make day-to-day decisions a lot easier.
“I have an opportunity to sell another product, should I take it?” – Will this new product help you get to your Vision faster or more easily?
“Which candidate should I hire for the salesperson’s position?” – Which of the candidates will align to the Vision faster and better and help work toward it? Which of the candidates have the skill and experience to carry out some of the strategies?”
Your completed 12-month Business Plan will also provide the framework for setting priorities because you know what are the important goals you need to attain.
“Should I work on the sales system or on the employee system first?” – Which one will help to attain a goal that you have set this year as the milestone to drive to your ultimate Vision? Can the other be safely left to next year?
Imagine the clarity and your ability to organise yourself and your priorities if you had this clarity!
Now, if after reading this article you think you need to be guided through this process in real-time, you should learn more about our One Day Business Plan online workshop program. It is an online training program designed as a real-time workshop so that you download worksheets, watch introductory videos about each stage, and then follow an audio recording leading you in each step along the way. You can learn more about it here.
And don’t forget – if you haven’t already, make sure that you get my articles full of valuable tools and resources to help you grow your business delivered directly to your inbox.
See you next week.