Time to Make a Plan

December 15th, 2014

Antique StopwatchsWhen was the last time that you sat down and wrote or reviewed your business plan; thought about your goals, your ambitions and targets?

In most SME’s, it’s rare to find any regular planning – perhaps that why less than 10% of business really fly. The old adage ‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’ is all too true!

Now, I bet you are thinking the dreaded business plan – I don’t have time, or I don’t know how to!

Let’s get something straight, I’m not talking about a 40 page business plan; you only need 3 pieces of paper; much easier? And I guarantee you’ll use it!

Now, before you start think long and hard about your personal goals as these will drive your business goals. Start by jotting down the answers to these questions; mull them over for a while and then finalise them.

  • How much do you have to earn versus want to earn?
  • How much time do you want to spend at work and when do you want to retire, reduce your hours or go part time?
  • What is your dream for your business, what do you want it to give you?
  • How much time do you want for pastimes, holidays and downtime etc.?

Now write out your business goals and make them SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & targeted and aligned to your personal goals.

First the one page plan and I mean one page. Use bullet points and statements not long waffling paragraphs, and include:

    1. Your reasons for being in business – your dream or vision and ambitions
    2. Your objectives; SMART, of course – try to stick to a maximum of 5
    3. Your key performance indicators (KPIs)
    4. A description of your target customers, markets and the products you offer

Secondly you’ll need a cash flow forecast, and I’m sure you can do this bit. But I want you to expand your sales section to include:

  • Number of existing clients
  • Annual retainer clients and/or repeat purchase rates
  • New clients required. List out the quotes and code them red, green or orange depending on the probability of securing the business. Now you have a sales pipeline.
  • Average order values / units sold /hours committed; so you’ll know what capacity you have to fill

Finally, a calendar, but it must be a big wall calendar; the one on your computer won’t do the job! This is your action plan: who, what, when, where, why and how. Post up all of the planning, marketing and sales activity for your company. The regular social media and marketing activity, any events, conferences, exhibitions that you attend or speak at, newsletters, emails and blogs, product launches, campaigns, etc. It MUST be on the wall so you’ll see and use it!

Now you have a plan; not only what you want to achieve, but how you are going to do it as well as method of checking whether or not you are on track. At any given point you’ll know where you are and when you need to make adjustments to your business activity.

Once you’ve written it, don’t ignore it – set time in your diary every month to review and update it. It’s amazing what you can achieve in a month or how far away you can drift away from your target. Make your business plan your best friend now.


Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter.