As 17,000 athletes finally get to deliver their ultimate performances at the London Olympics, it occurred to me that there is a business parallel here. Like any business, athletes have to compete to succeed. But how many do you know, who would even consider competing without training and without a plan? It is perfectly possible, of course, to go for a run because you enjoy it and without the slightest intention of competing. But isn’t that called jogging?
So, here’s a question you can ask yourself. “Is my business competing? Am I going for gold? Or am I just jogging along?”
The difference is down to planning and preparation. Most small businesses probably do have a plan, somewhere. It was drawn up reluctantly when asking the bank for money, and the chances are it was never referred to again. Without a plan, you’re running your business on gut-feel and historic data. Can you imagine an athlete playing it by ear? Turning up at the track or the pool every day, doing their laps and never considering a strategy, never setting targets, never looking at other competitors or how to beat them? And can you imagine them basing their objectives on the times they achieved a year ago?
If you are going to drive your business ahead, beat the competition and create a success, then you must have (and actively use) a plan. The basics are simple. Decide what the long term goals are for your business and set out a road map to get you there. That process will force you to consider the obstacles that lie in your path, how to overcome them, how best to capitalise on your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.
Set targets so that you compare your actual results with what you expected to achieve. There’ll be a lot of guesswork involved to begin with but once you start working with your plan you’ll learn how to revise it to keep moving towards your goal.
And don’t forget, we’re always just a phone call away. For short term forecasts we can help you with tips on improving your cash flow and profits, whereas for longer term planning we have a range of tools, including a full-day programme that helps you align your personal goals with your business goals.
Of course, you could always just carry on jogging. As Sir John Harvey-Jones famously said: “The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a total surprise and is not preceded by a period of worry or depression.”
To discuss how we can help you develop a robust plan for your business or even just a simple cash flow projection for the next year ahead, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01905 21411 today.