When was the last time you set out on a journey without knowing exactly where your destination was? Without having the post code entered into your sat nav or the maps application on your phone? Without even having dug out and dusted off your trusty A3 sized road atlas and plotted the route prior to setting off? I’d guess that you can’t remember; you would want to take these steps to ensure you take the most efficient route, don’t get lost or stuck in traffic. In stark contrast, when it comes to business planning, we speak to business owners on a regular basis who just simply don’t plan.
Business planning is crucial to make sure you know where you’re heading, where you want to be and how to make the two meet. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to take detours along the way; taking the “scenic routes” when the right opportunities come along, but having the plan in place from the outset helps to keep you focused on the bigger picture of your goals for the business. This can prove invaluable whenever you’re feeling (inevitably) overwhelmed by the day to day running of the business.
We’re not saying that you need to create a multi-page strategic plan borne out of the culmination of endless research and weeks of work – although such a document can have its benefits. Business planning can come in many guises, here’s what we have implemented at Woodville earlier this year and some ways we’re going to ensure we stay on our planned route.
At the start of the year, the managers spent a day offsite to discuss the future of Woodville; where we saw it heading, and where we wanted to see it heading over the next 5 years. A 5-Year Outline was written detailing the main objectives we want to achieve. From that high level strategic document, the 1-year targets were produced along with 2 months’ worth of action points to start steering the business towards those targets immediately on an operational level.
We have recently been introduced to Trello, a piece of very visual project management software. Within Trello you to create a number of projects and split them up in any way you see best. Individual jobs from each project category can then be moved to a monthly timeline, in order of urgency and importance giving the user a very clear plan of action over the coming weeks and months. Jobs can be reordered within a month or assigned to another month, new ones added in or obsolete ones removed. Once a job has been completed it can be transferred to the “completed” board which allows you to easily see all that you have achieved.
In addition to this we have created two monthly spreadsheets (we do love a good spreadsheet!) to further plan the month’s activities within the business development activities and the planned content throughout the website – this article being the first February 20108 one!
By taking a relatively small amount of time away from the office and all the distractions that it brings, we were able to produce the strategic objectives for Woodville, our annual goals and our monthly work plans.
We have proved here that sometimes all you need is a few hours to get your business on track and heading towards your goals. Do you feel that you and your business could benefit from this? Please get in touch for more information.