Presented by Goldman Sachs

Planning – It's Powerful – And It's Pretty Easy

Most people get scared when we talk about planning. They really get nervous and think it’s a big deal. Planning is at the center of my life. I’ve worked with clients for years on developing plans that work and I’ve seen a lot of issues with plans. I’ve condensed all of it into a keynote and process called The Three Laws of Empowerment ( Basically you need to prepare for success, make a plan that really works and the protect yourself.

Because I’m constantly working with businesses and audiences on planning, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly and from it, I’ve been able to build a framework to help people create effective plans.

Here is a methodology for starting and building a plan that we have seen worked in action:

Step 1: Review historical plans. What plans have you had in the past? Where are you with those plans? You probably haven’t ended up where you thought you were going to end up but you have had plans in the past. Take a look at those. See what we can use from them in the future. Review them. Get a good understanding of what you’ve done in the past, what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. This is going to be a foundation for your new plan.

Step 2: Do a real review of where you are. Now’s the time to get in touch with your financials, your business, your capacity, your utilization, your strength points and your weak points. Do a real analysis of where you are, at this point. Understand your situation and go from here.

Step 3: Start the conversation. Now, if you’re a multi-owner business involving partners you’re going to want to get all the partners together to make sure everybody understands what you are doing and start having input in the plan. You also want to get employees and possibly customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders involved in the conversation. You want everybody thinking about where you are and where you’re headed and how everybody plays a part of it.

Step 4: Think about the what ifs. As you are building your plans and thinking about where you’re going, start doing “what if” planning. Think about, what if our sales grow faster than we expect? What if our sales struggle? How are we going to move forward? What does our business look like? Run a lot of “what if” scenarios for different possibilities so that you’re starting to build contingencies and realism into your plans.

Step 5: Agree on a path. As this all comes together and you get multiple stakeholders working together ans to agree on that path forward. Determine how you’re moving and how things are coming together to get to your goal.

Step 6: Document it. Now that you’re building a plan we want to start documenting. We want to start getting this in writing. This is going to be key to the future. What have you agreed to with the others in your business? What are you each doing? We always tell our clients to some writing here. It’s great to have a lot of conversations, it’s great to have everybody come out of the meeting and nod their head but we need a written plan. Document the plan. Make sure you have the plan fully written out with all the key elements involved including details.

Step 7: Review the plan. Review the plan together with all those key stakeholders that you were talking to in steps three and five. Here’s where something surprising is going to probably happen. When everybody starts looking at that written plan, they’re going to find that there were fundamental assumptions or details that they didn’t understand or agree to and now we are going to have to go back and adjust those.

Step 8: Agree Again. Everybody has now seen the documentation; they’ve seen the new plan. It’s time to go back and re-agree on what the plan is.

Step 9: Update the Plan. Now that you’ve re-agreed on the plan and updated the plan, you may want to work back through some of the earlier steps again. You need to look at the new plan, make sure all the assumptions are there, and work out any details. It should be getting simpler and easier at every step.

Step 10: Do periodic reviews and rebuild the plan. Your plan is only good for a while. You should be going back to it and looking at it on a regular basis. Monthly or quarterly with all your key decision makers. Make sure you’re executing your plan and you’re changing and updating your plan as needed.

It may be a good idea to bring in outside experts to help you develop your plan. You might be able to use another business, somebody on your board or directors or perhaps a company like McBride for Business,, to help you with your plans.

The key to planning is to start now. Start getting the conversation going. Don’t wait any longer. I can be almost certain that if you haven’t done planning in a while, there’s things that your team is working on that you’re not coordinated on. People are actually going in different directions. The time to start planning is now.

Do you want to know what you should think about in your planning? Do you need additional details of what to include in that plan?

If you want some ideas of what might go into your business plan, take a look at our business planning checklist. Go to our website, www.McBrideForBusiness/thankyou and download a free success checklist which might give you some ideas of things to include in your plans.

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