Traditionally, business plans are created at the start of the year and reviewed at the end. They guide the direction of the company and inform decision-making. However, in times of uncertainty and change, they can quickly become irrelevant. So, I’m exploring the advantages of short-term business planning.
Presenting the Case for a quarterly business plan
The past few years have thrown up more than their fair share of challenges and opportunities; wouldn’t you agree? The vision and plans we have for our businesses at the start of the year have been knocked out of the water by unexpected changes. These have impacted how we work, where we work and what our customers want.
Fortunately, SMEs are highly responsive to change. We have no choice but to adapt, rethink and seek out new markets.
With little sign that things will stabilise any time soon, I’m putting the case forward for quarterly business plans. Rather than trying to predict 12 months ahead; why not focus on what needs to happen in the first few months of 2023 to set your company up for the year?
A quarterly business plan helps to keep your vision and goals at the forefront of your mind; informing each strategic decision. Short-term goals are easier to accomplish and each achievement drives motivation for the next step in the process.
In addition, reviewing the plan at several points throughout the year helps you to identify what’s working and what’s not. It allows you to be responsive to changes in the market and helps to keep your business relevant. Finally, I think you’ll find that regular reviews make it easier to keep track of what you are working towards.
Where to start with business planning
I’m going to ask; What’s the one thing that you want to improve in Q1?
Give it some thought – you might need to master a new skill or update your website. Are there skill gaps in your team which could be met by outsourcing? Is it time to invest in new equipment or systems?
It can be valuable to gather feedback from employees and customers too. What would improve things from their perspective? You might be surprised by some of the comments and small changes can make a big difference to those who make your business a success.
Make this improvement the focus of your first business plan of 2023. Consider who and what you need in place to achieve it. Remember to set SMART goals and weekly actions so you have clear milestones and know when you’ve reached the goal.
For Q2, the question could be ‘What do we want more of?’
If the answer is clients, which ones? What is the common factor of clients that it’s easy to work with?
For employees, what skills and attitudes fit with your company culture? Do you need full-time, part-time or freelancers?
If its products/services, what would be of greatest value to your customers?
Completing a SWOT analysis for your plan can help identify whether you are setting realistic goals that will enable you to grow your business.
Employee engagement in business planning
Business planning is typically undertaken by the company owner or senior team, but that misses out on the opportunity to hear thoughts and ideas from the team who need to implement it. Why not gather the team for a business planning meeting? Present your goals and invite their thoughts. Do they have any suggestions or reservations, and what would they need to put the plans into action?
According to a Forbes article about business planning in 2023, employee engagement isn’t just part of the planning stage. The plan should also feature ways to enhance employee engagement and well-being. Retaining the talent in your team and developing the full potential of your employees is crucial for realising goals.
The Forbes article also suggests refreshing business strategy and company culture around what it is that generates results. This takes some understanding of why customers buy from you, rather than the competition. What is your appeal and how can you build on that?
A major benefit of short-term business planning is being responsive and adaptable. For this reason, it makes sense to present the information in a digital format. A digital document makes it easy to update as you move through the year and the current version can be accessible to all staff online.
I fully believe that a business plan should be easy for all employees to access and read. That’s because you need them on board to make it happen! I advocate concise, visually appealing plans that pinpoint the key vision, goals and actions. My Business Vision Template has been a popular download from my template library and you are welcome to use it too. Download the Business Vision Template below.
Time to Turn Things Around
So, if 2023 is the year when you are ready to turn things around and reap the rewards, make it happen with responsive, short-term business plans. Be invested in your goals and bring your team on board too; collective effort can help you to scale the biggest of challenges. Collaboration can also strengthen the team. If things don’t go to plan, update the document! Just keep on track to realise those goals.
Business Plan Vision Template: Free Download
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