The first thing a business owner usually says to us is “I need a business plan.” Most often, this is not actually the case. The business owner generally has a misunderstanding of what a business plan will do for them. A business plan is usually a beginning point in requesting capital from government grants, bank loans or private investors. If your business is in need of start-up capital or expansion capital, then you will definitely need a business plan. However, if the business is self-funded, then creating a business plan is a daunting task which is generally a waste of time.
What these business owners actually need is a strategic plan. Business plans are concept-based, wherein strategic plans are activity-based. The strategic planning process we use at The Secret Weapon is called the Business Success GPS. After examining the processes used in a multitude of business, we suggest using a one-page strategic plan that covers a span of 5 years. Anything more than 5 years is difficult for the business owner and core team to mentally digest and set with clarity. The idea is to gain clarity and determine exactly the activities that need to be done on a yearly, quarterly and daily basis.
Business Success GPS is exactly that…a GPS system for your business. To best explain this concept, think about using a GPS system in your car. When you get in the car, you turn on the GPS device, which bounces a signal to a satellite and pinpoints your exact location. You then enter your destination into the device. The device calculates the best route to get you from where you are to where you want to be. In driving, we also know the shortest route in mileage is not always the shortest route in travel time. A Business Success GPS will allow you to pinpoint where you are in your business, where you want to be, and the exact activities that will need to be done on a daily basis to ensure you will reach your 5-year goal.
Each activity is assigned to a person, with the resources and timeline for completion. Accountability is then held by way of daily huddles and weekly team meetings. These meetings and generally facilitated by a business mentor or manager. They serve as the “GPS lady” to get you back on track when you’ve missed a turn, turned the wrong direction, or just simply need to step on the gas in order to reach your destination on time.
While business plans are not necessary for every business, operating your business without a solid Business Success GPS can be the equivalent of playing Russian roulette. As business owners, we invest too much time, money and energy into being successful. We have a responsibility to our employees, vendors, family and community to ensure we are doing the right things in our businesses. A business without an action plan is a business that actively plans to fail.