Kicking off the New Year w/ A Plan

Tonight I will be kicking off our weekend Planning & Strategy event in Charlotte NC.  We have just over 31 days left this year to get ready for next – so if you’re not attending, at least set aside time to plan in the coming weeks.  Three times a year I head out of my office and find a quiet spot to review my plan.  Most won’t even do this one time in a year!

Refining the Mission

Money is not a goal – it’s a measurement.  Plan in hand, I look back at my mission to see if I am accomplishing it.  Most mission statements are meaningless wordsmithed phrases that do nothing for your company.  My mission refocuses me on the people I am serving through my business.  It’s built on the needs I’ve observed in those companies I work with, and is designed to keep me moving in the right direction.  When someone asks me to get involved in something that doesn’t fit my mission, I refer them to someone else and move on.  It also pushes me to learn more.  It pushes me to become a student of the work I do, and a student of the people I work for.  I want to understand their root problems, and find lasting solutions.  If my business is straying from the mission, it’s time to course-correct.

Resetting the Vision, Measuring the Progress

A vision is something you aim to achieve over time.  Every person in your company should understand the vision, and should be responsible for some aspect of it.  Simon Sinek, in his book, “Start With WHY”, explains that the leader of the business has a passion – it’s his WHY, and it drives the company in a particular direction.  His or her direct reports focus on the HOW.  They figure out how to get where their company needs to go.  In my business, I have to do both.  Those on the front lines then carry out the WHAT associated with the HOW.  In my planning process, I look to see where I have come from, and where I am going.  Money is not the vision.  In other words, it doesn’t make sense to have a vision that says, “To make millions of dollars this year.”  Money comes as I achieve my mission and approach my vision.  Once reached, a new vision will be set.

Looking at the Rest of the Plan

This weekend we’ll start with mission and vision, but then we’ll need to dive into the tactical day to day components of a healthy business.  We’ll need to look at strategies being used to develop and deliver solutions, sell projects, market, etc. And we’ll need to associate metrics with each.  Many of these metrics will be tried to numbers on the financials.  For instance, your managed services program might be running with a particular monthly recurring revenue, and by tweaking the sales process, we may be  able to grow it by a percentage.  The goals will be associated with the processes we outline – the money will measure it’s success or failure.  Here are several strategies I recommend you look at in the coming weeks, before 2013 hits:

  • Solution Strategy – Are you addressing your clients’ root problems?  Are your customer satisfaction numbers in line with the principles of your company?  Are your projects profitable?  Consider your product selection, methodology, delivery team, and project management process.
  • Marketing Strategy – do you have an effective way to reach out to new clients.  I was speaking on a webinar this morning and the other speaker talked about farming in a sense I had not considered.  Rather than referring to a named account, he talked about working a list of SMB companies over a period of time to win their business.  An approach to reach a large group of businesses, with the expectation of bringing in a percentage of them over time.  There’s some wisdom here if you can figure out a way to apply it.
  • Sales Strategy – Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, encourages building a process and refining it.  Most sales people haphazardly go about prospecting without any plan.  This leads to thrashing – inefficiently pushing through the day making calls and responding to emails, but not necessarily on the most qualified contacts.  Big Data Analytics may give us a more efficient calling process in the future, but for now, the sales person really has to do some planning.  Your business plan should provide some direction here on how your company aims to go to market in the coming 12 months.
  • Metrics – each of the above should include metrics that allow you to constantly gauge were you are, and how well you are doing.  Consider things like margin, utilization of billable resources, average bill rates, estimated vs. actual on project estimates, etc.

This weekend I am working with several reseller business owners to build their plans – but I won’t have time to do mine…so in two weeks, I will be heading out of the office, checking vmail and email occasionally, and giving the better part of my day to the 2013 plan.  I hope you will do the same!

© 2013 David Stelzl





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