After running our first webinar where I helped a group of advice business owners to write their business plan, I’m compelled to share some discoveries with you, and let you in on a little secret.
Let’s start with the discoveries.
I asked all the participants if they had a business plan in the previous two years, and two thirds of the group had not. Of those who had written a business plan previously, not a single one of them had achieved their targeted outcomes.
There were a number of consistent issues that people shared across the group:
• Many were challenged with finding enough quality referrals.
• Some found they were in need of systematising their processes.
• Still others struggled to find the passion, focus and clarity to achieve significant change – they wanted to, but found the daily reality of working in the business was quite different to their aspirational desires.
In a nutshell – most struggled with time and money – they had not enough of either.
And you know what’s interesting about that? Almost every client that engages us for coaching is struggling with either not enough cashflow or not enough time – usually both…and by bringing a new perspective to the business, we can always help them to find more of both – by doing a few things differently. Many make a significant commitment – some might say take a risk – to find the funds to pay our fees, as it can be counter-intuitive to pay additional expenses when cashflow is tight. They end up thankful that they did – it takes different behaviours to achieve different results!
So how do you know if you’ve got a great business plan? I’ve come up with an acronym that summarises a good plan – a good business plan gives you the SMARTS. It will be/have:
• Single page (it doesn’t have to be war and peace!),
• Multi-dimensional, MEASURABLE outcomes (using both qualitative and quantitative data),
• Activities – that are clear and measurable (targets without the activities that will achieve them are just wishes),
• Revised regularly – and adjusted throughout the year if your planned activities aren’t working,
• Tracked as a team (your whole team knows what you’re aiming for and can see your regular progress towards the planned outcomes),
• Seriously celebrated. (I just couldn’t bring myself to mis-spell celebrated to fit the acronym!).
And now I’ll share my secret with you.
You see, I took a leap of faith. I know we can work with a business face-to-face to create a brilliantly effective business plan – but could I do it in a group webinar situation?
I wanted to run a webinar where I could actually help people write their plan – not just talk about it.
Then we questioned whether people would pay to attend a webinar to do this? In today’s ‘content marketing’ age, when any self-professed expert will give away their knowledge to attract potential clients, there is a fine line between a free webinar where people share enough knowledge to whet your appetite and prove they know what they’re talking about; and a paid one where they share their intellectual property that they would otherwise charge for if they consulted to you in person.
Turns out, the answers to all these questions were a resounding Yes – it worked! I was thrilled with an average of 94% for quality of presenter and 86% for ‘Did you get value from this webinar?’ Not bad, considering that for the first time EVER our technology failed us for about 4 minutes! (except, ironically, the sound – so whilst I thought the whole system was down and rushed out of the boardroom to reconnect at my desktop, attendees could hear my dialogue with Nick my wingman – thankfully everyone took that in good humour!)
It all proves my point that getting a great business plan needn’t be complex. It’s not some secretive skill that you only learn in Consultant-school along with words like ‘SWOT analysis’, ‘elevator test’ and ‘strawman’. It can be a simple process that boils down to “what do you want to achieve and what will you do to achieve it”? Of course a great coach will bring you ideas that you may not have considered, or fresh perspective when you’re just too close to see things clearly, but not having a coach shouldn’t hold you back from having an effective Business Plan!
It’s well-worth taking the time to step away from the business and create your plan for what you want to achieve this year. If you have a plan and it’s ineffective – revisit it. We asked all the attendees what was the best idea/answer or distinction they took from the webinar, and these are my favourite answers:
“Just get on with updating our old business plan that hasn’t been effective to date.”
“Spend more time organising myself, and perhaps outsource more.”
“Break down the annual strategic directions into a 90 day plan.”
“Break down your big ideas into small bites and focus on what you actually need to do to achieve them.” (or in another’s words, “don’t focus only on the big picture – set stretch targets then focus on the individual activities that will generate the results.”)
“Keep it to one page and share it with the team!”
So over to you – have you got an effective business plan that articulates what you want to achieve and HOW you will achieve it? If not, take the time to create one – unless, of course, you’re happy with your current reality?