Blackadder’s Baldrick always had a cunning plan; as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
As a business owner, having a plan seems like an obvious place to start; and that is because the obvious truths are often the most powerful but neglected ones.
To plan well and understand how you are going to get your business to a place that you can call success you need to know what success looks like – for you.
Some of you might be aiming to build a massive business, sell-up and retire early; others want to create a healthy income doing the thing they love most in the world; and then there are those who want to take over the world in their marketplace and go global. Whatever your dreams and aspirations, you will never, ever get there if you haven’t nailed the goal. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, ‘if you don’t know where you are going – all roads will take you there.’
When a company is small it is possible to run reasonably well without much planning, dealing with each new piece of work or challenge as it arrives and simply getting by. That is because the business only has short term goals. If you wanted it to expand, however, it would have to systemise or risk ‘growing broke’. Haphazard processes simply aren’t robust enough to cope with additional activity.
Planning is by no means a quick task, so here’s some of my top tips to help get you to scale your way to success:
• Schedule uninterrupted time to do your planning.
• You need to begin with the end in mind. Once you have your goal clearly identified, simply start to work backwards.
• Work out what your business will look like in terms of: finances, turnover, personnel, products, processes, structure and marketing.
• Ensure your plans are clearly defined step-by-step. If you have big aspirations for your business, especially if those plans involve employing other people, then you will fail if you don’t do this.
• The greater and more complex the goal, the more detailed the plan needs to be.
• Don’t hurry the process. Something will get overlooked.
• Schedule formal planning meetings with your staff regularly.
My underlying SCALE philosophy ultimately answers one question: when and how to exit a business. Having a clear ultimate goal, and a step-by-step plan to reach this, will enable you to choose what you do with your tomorrow.