The lazy, hot days of summer are the perfect time for strategic planning. These months at the majority of marketing agencies tend to bring about planning fever, and with that, an in-depth analysis of what was and was not effective in regards to business development. I always tell my clients to retain about 80 percent of what worked, throw out the other 20 percent, and come up with fresh and innovative strategies to substitute for those that didn’t pan out as well.
Ongoing company development, implementation and comprehensive planning are critical steps to long-term success; ironically, it’s also the one activity that is the most neglected. Why? Because it gets ignored for other pressing activities deemed more essential. It also demands a substantial amount of hard work, dedication and concentrated effort; and you’re just too busy, right? If you said yes, it’s time to begin a new way of thinking.
In order to run a successful business, you must be careful not to let daily, mundane tasks inundate your time in exchange for strategic thoughts about the development of your company. What you’ll be sacrificing if you continue this behavior is your company’s overall success and future achievement. Make sure you’re working within the larger context of a well-thought out business plan.
On that note, please put to rest the myth about only start-ups needing a business plan. As an existing or transitionary company, you want to ensure that you are best positioned for continued growth and development. You may have had an excellent plan in the beginning, but like most things, change is inevitable. Don’t become reactionary. Look to accomplish definitive goals, not respond to obstacles or events. If you’re looking to maintain your success you need to proactively plan for things that will inexorably come your way.
And have you ever considered that you might change? The way you envision your company may be impacted by numerous events in your life. Don’t discount regularly updating your business plan. This continued dedication will assist in moving your business in a forward direction while maintaining consistency of your company’s evolving brand.
Wondering how to get the business planning ball rolling? Well, lucky for you, there is a plethora of information at the tips of your fingers. Some of my favorites include software that allows for the creation of a legacy whereby you can control your future performance. Measuring current progress against past procedures will build a strong foundation of company best practices. At my agency, we use Clients & Profits, a database program that allows employees to track their time against both billable and non-billable time. This allows us to strategically analyze both qualitative and quantitative metrics against specific programs, projects and internal agency development.
In addition, participating in organizations that include your peers provides you an outside perspective when evaluating your company. Many of today’s organizations audit and compare your business model – specifically costs and margins – with those companies within your peer group. This allows you to assess where you stack up against your competitors.
Lastly, positioning people in key managerial roles with significant responsibilities creates sustainability within a company. Remember to include these employees in your business planning. They possess valuable insight and have a vested interest in where you company currently is and where it can go in the future.
Although you may believe you can have a thriving company without incessant strategic analysis, if you fail to take the time to plan, you will fail to succeed. Vince Lombardi once said – “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge… but rather a lack in will.”