2014 is not far away and soon enough, as business owners and managers, everyone will tell us to look back and acknowledge the year that was and plan for the year ahead. We all know we should do this and love sitting around shooting the breeze on what happened, the highs and lows, what we did right, where we went wrong.
Then comes the planning for next year, and of course we all put it off. We happily set those new year resolutions, and when it comes to the business most of us say, “this year I will do a business plan!”. But like anything, we need to ensure there is something in it for us, there has to be an obvious value in creating the plan. If you see it as just another document, sitting on your desk gathering dust, and at the end of the day you know you’re going to head into the year and do exactly what you did last year, there’s no way you’ll get around to doing the plan.
The difference between writing a business plan and designing the future is enormous. If you design your future first, the business plan is suddenly more meaningful; you see the plan as the means to understanding the steps needed to create the future you’ve designed.
Designing the future is different to planning for the future. Planning for the future is based on what your already know about the business. You plan around the highs and lows of the current client needs, the skills needed to deliver your current products and services and the environment required to manage the current staff levels.
But when designing the future, you decide exactly how you want the year to look. The income you want, the time off you want, the type of clients you want and it may look completely different to how life looked this year. It’s not about looking into the year and plotting out what usually happens based on the past, such as – June’s quiet so we’ll cut back expenses then we’ll ramp up in August because that’s when our current clients get busy. If June is historically quiet for your current client base, ask “what other industries can we target, what sort of clients aren’t quiet that time of year, and what would we need to do to be able to service them?” Ask also, what new services you can offer so that the quiet times for your traditional services can be supplemented with new ones, then determine what new skills sets you need to develop the business further.
Either way, design the future to fit the lifestyle you want NOT to feed the mouths of 50 staff . If you’ve always wanted to take Friday’s off, then this is the year to do it. Employ a general manager and a new business development person to ramp up the business enough to cover the time you want off!
Designing the future around the role you want might mean you actually start enjoying your business again! If you’ve been handling the HR side of the business and you hate doing it, you’re probably no good at it anyway, so employ an HR person or outsource it to a part time consultant. The outcome is likely to be much happier and more effective staff. When you’re designing the future, start with a blank piece of paper and design it based on YOU. In any business inspiration starts at the top and a happy, motivated, confident leader, inspires similar qualities right through the organisation. It’s design not planning that makes the difference.
Author: Jane Toohey
Jane is an expert in communications, brand development, integrated marketing and digital strategy. Everything Jane does is geared towards helping companies grow their business and generate new opportunities. Having provided strategic solutions for many businesses over a long and accomplished career, Jane’s passion is watching and encouraging entrepreneurial success.