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The ABC’s of successful business planning

Suzzanne Laidlaw
13 July 2020 3 minute readShare

As we fast approach the end of the financial year — and come out the other side of the COVID pandemic — it’s crucial for business owners to spend extra care in planning the future success of their business, writes Suzzanne Laidlaw.

One of the keys to good planning is mapping out what you can do to positively impact the success of your business. It’s about being ready to adapt, continuing to research and learn from others, and understanding what needs to happen in your business to create solid foundations. Here are my ABC’s of business planning:

A. Assess

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Before deciding on areas of improvement in your business, it’s important to get clarity of where you’re at now. The four main areas I recommend focusing on are:

  1. Financials
  2. Marketing
  3. Sales
  4. Operations

Understanding your profit and loss, balance sheet, budget and cash flow will help you to determine what proactive strategies you can implement to impact your profits. Particularly through challenging times or economic uncertainty, it’s good to assess your revenue, stock and fixed expenses to make sure you’re not spending unnecessarily.

 

Marketing is about educating and communicating with both your existing customers and prospective clients. Who are your top 20 per cent of clients, who is your target market, and what problem does your company solve? How are you communicating that message? If people don’t know who you are or what you do, they can’t buy from you!

Thirdly, do you have a sales process documented so that you are consistent, efficient and continue to build rapport and trust? How can you tweak your systems to make the process seamless for your customers? The easier you can make it for people to buy from you, the higher the chance of conversion.

Finally, your operations. What is your existing customer service plan like? How regularly are you checking in with your clients, and what are you doing to look after them? It’s far easier to retain a client than get a new one, so it’s important to continually place deposits into their emotional bank account so they know you care. In fact, the top reason customers leave is because of perceived indifference (they don’t think you care!). Whatever product or service it is that you deliver, make sure it’s delivered seamlessly with the best service possible.

B. Believe

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If you have a clear vision and mission in your business, you will be able to believe what’s truly possible, and it will be the guiding light that drives the success of your organisation.

Your business vision is the long-term future of what you would like your company to achieve, and the mission statement describes what your business is made up of, what it delivers and how. This ought to be clear to your prospects, clients, suppliers and your team (to help engage their hearts and minds).

Your team are your biggest asset; it’s your people who will help to support your vision and mission. The clearer your team are about your vision, the easier it is for them to believe in the future. What are you doing to make sure they feel safe, secure, appreciated and valued? Keeping open and honest dialogue with your team about what success looks like will mean they can get excited about their role as part of the company’s plan for success.

C. Change

The model for success in your business needs to be clear in your head, before any changes are implemented. Has your business model changed through COVID (for example, have you changed delivery method or downsized your team?), and what needs to be altered in your business plan to ensure you’re still reaching your targets?

Have the problems of your customers changed? Have you adjusted your message to reflect any changes? How many incoming leads do you need, and how will you improve the service to your customers? What are your team’s billable hours, and how are you tracking their performance? What are your profit margins? Are there ways you can tweak your margins? Can you be better than before? How can you be better than your competitors?

Learning from what has happened in the past, testing and measuring and looking into the future to identify your gaps and opportunities, I’d recommend spending at least one full day each quarter to reassess your overall business model and make sure you’re clear on your formula for success. If you don’t know what it is, it won’t happen.

Suzzanne Laidlaw is an internationally accredited business coach.

The ABC’s of successful business planning
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Suzzanne Laidlaw

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