Business Planning - What is a plan?
The definition of a plan is a written account of intended future course of action aimed at
achieving specific goals or objectives within a specific timeframe.
The whole purpose of a plan is to achieve an outcome and get something done. It’s not a
business accessory to give an impression of action, just to say you have a plan.
If you have a plan, you must use it otherwise, you just have words!
So do you have just words?
Many organisations go through the process of creating a business plan, or indeed
emergency plans; but once completed (all two hundred pages) they take pride of place on a
shelf to gather dust.
Certainly, with regard to emergency plans (which are a great case in point) that not in daily
use, fail to deliver in times of crisis. As with any situation, familiarity is vital.
In any business planning process, it’s essential to know what you wish to achieve. There are,
however, two preliminary questions that must be addressed:
1. Even though you have a goal or objective, what is your long term target-what do you
want to do with your life?
2. What is the current exit strategy for you and the business?
Lifestyle or a business you can sell?
Is yours a lifestyle that provides you with a living, or a business you intend to grow and sell
with the right offer? These answers will dictate the approach you subsequently adopt.
An easy way to work out the first question, is what would you do if money was not a
problem? On your deathbed, will you have any regrets with work? if so put that right now!
To start, you must be absolutely clear whether yours is a lifestyle business. Can you take
three months off and will the business still function? If you can’t, you probably have a
Furthermore, be clear and honest with yourself; keep the ego at bay. Many want to sell
their business, but run it in a lifestyle manner. The two are incompatible.
The One Page Plan
Don’t be daunted by business planning, or any departmental planning.
All you need is a one page plan. Too much detail in many cases is totally unnecessary, and
will not provide the clarity needed. The absence of an effective plan is one of the main
reasons that many business owners work in the business, and not on the business!
Furthermore, if you can’t explain it in simple terms to those close to you or in your business,
it won’t be effective (remember the 150 page long dusty copy sat on a shelf?).
The Deliberately Different One Page Plan we use and advocate is inspired by Alastair
Campbell’s book ‘Winners’. Love or loathe him he is one of the best strategists and one of
the clearest thinkers. We highly recommend his book!
The One Page Plan works and is so effective, because of its simplicity.
Here are the three key elements:
The first and most important initial step is to define the Objective. What do you want to
achieve or where do you want to get to?
The objective must be SMART
Too many businesses don’t adopt this simple formula. The greater investment applied to
setting the objective, the greater potential for success.
Once the objective is set, a Strategy is needed to achieve it. Perhaps the one area that
causes the most confusion. Clear thinking is absolutely essential. One common, but lethal
mistake, is to confuse strategy with tactics. It’s the how or the method to achieve your
We all devise strategies all the time. Take dieting as an example.
Objective: To lose two stones in 3 months
Strategy: Eat less, move more
Tactics: Join a gym, get a diet plan, walk to work etc
It’s what gets done.
In effect, the one year business plan is the to do list.
Tactics should be ranked in terms of priority with the most important at the top of the list.
Be guided by the most important and not what seems the most urgent. An effective tool is
to use Objective, Strategy and Tactic plan to deliver the tactics.
Protect your business against wasting time and energy.
After every distraction you must return to the tactic you prioritised. Failure to do so will
result in not only frustration, but you being a busy fool!
Will conclude with Alastair Campbell’s advice on winning, that can be equally applied to the
One Page Plan.
“IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A CLEAR OBJECTIVE, YOU HAVE NO DEFINITION OF WINNING. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A CLEAR STRATEGY, YOU HAVE NO CHANCE OF WINNING. AND IF ALL YOU HAVE IS TACTICS, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO WIN’.
So what are you waiting for? Plan Ahead!