Saturday, June 20, 2009

The HTG Way Part III - Business Plans

Will Rogers said “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there”. We have to plan to take action. Underlying S.M.A.R.T. goals is the need for planning. In HTG we focus on four plans that we ask members to complete or update each year.
1. Business Plan
2. Leadership Plan
3. Life Plan
4. Legacy Plan

The first and foundational plan is a company business plan. This plan is targeted at capturing the key elements for the company for the coming year. HTG uses a version of the One Page Business Plan as a model, but members are able to use any plan methodology they prefer. The key is not what the plan looks like, but rather that there is a plan. This plan should serve as the basis for many of the goals that are set each quarter. If the goals don’t align with the plan (or one of the plans), then why is there focus being made on it.

There are five key elements to the one page business plan format which are important to address:
1. Vision – a graphical description of the business that answers the question “What are you building?” Your vision should describe what the business will look like in 3, 5 or 10 years. It should include the geographical scope, the type of business you will operate, product and service offerings and what customers you intend to serve. This is the “big picture” for your company.
2. Mission – is the statement of purpose for the organization and answers the question “Why does this business exist?” The mission statement should describe the reason this company exists in a sentence or less. This statement should be timeless and really give people a clear view into the purpose of the business over time.
3. Objectives – are a list of measurable results and desired outcomes. This answers the question “What will you measure?” While there is the potential for a long list here, it is recommended that this be a list of four to eight goals that must be achieved for the business to be successful. This should include KPI’s and other ways to measure success and to know goals have been met.
4. Strategies – define how business will be built and managed. They answer the question “How will you build and grow this business?” This should be a list of five to eight things the business must do extremely well over time to be successful. These are not typically short term or tactical activities, but longer term actions that will be done consistently over time.
5. Plans – are a list of work or tasks to be completed. This answers the question “What is the work to be done now?” In this section, list six to eight specific business building or infrastructure projects that must be successfully completed within the next 12 months in order to implement the strategies listed above. These are tactical activities that need to happen now.

Of course the plan by itself does not guarantee success. You need to review it regularly, create a scorecard for key areas of measurement, identify KPI’s to watch daily, evaluate and provide regular feedback to employees so they are aware of progress, utilize to do lists with dates and progress benchmarks to track activity, and communicate verbally and via written word progress on the plan.

One other area you may want to include in your business plan is your Core Values. These are statements by which your company will be governed. They don’t change over time but are the very core of how you will operate the business and how it conducts itself through relationships with vendors, customers, employees and the community. These statements help all parties understand how you intend to interact and engage with them and how you will do business. These should be very visible to all people inside and outside your company.

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