July 19, 2015

You DON’T Need a Business Plan… You Need a Vision

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Why You DON’T Need a Business Plan

She Is Fierce! has partnered with Finding Your Power, a Jacksonville, Florida-based women’s entrepreneurial group offering the Creating Your Vision workshop from July 31-August 2 in Jacksonville… learn more at the end of the article, or:

Learn more about the Creating Your Vision workshop here

Everybody has heard of a business plan, right?

The whole world tells you that every business needs a business plan. I disagree with this thinking. I do however, believe every business should have a Vision Plan. A business plan talks about the goals for your business, reasons they are attainable, and information about your competitors. They are written so that an investor can make an educated decision about the probability of getting a positive return on his investment in three to five years. Most of us aren’t looking for venture capital investors – we are looking for a working document that will lay out, step by step, how we are going to achieve our goals, and more importantly, how we are going to avoid costly mistakes while getting there.

A Vision Plan talks about what you will accomplish over the next year or so and HOW you will accomplish it. It maps out the different areas of your company that will make it happen and helps you identify where you have constraints that will stop you from achieving your goals. Don’t get me wrong, your banker would love to see this document. He would love it, in fact, because it very clearly spells out what needs to happen and how it will happen to get you to your destination – complete with facts and figures, and also what potential roadblocks are out there. It is a touchstone you come back to – to check and see if the decisions you are making are in congruence with where you want to go. And it helps your employees do the same thing.

Let’s talk about your employees for a minute.

Is everything they do every day moving you towards your goals? Think about a particular person. Now, would everything she does every day support your business goals? Without observing her, how do you know? How would she know? If she is doing things that don’t support your business goals, what is she doing instead? Is she doing those things because:

1. She does not know your business strategy

2. She knows the strategy but she doesn’t know what to do to move towards it

3. She doesn’t want to do it

4. She is missing the important piece of information, equipment or training that would allow her to do it

That is a scary thought – what are your employees doing simply because you cannot sit next to them all day to make sure everything they do moves you towards your goal? A Vision Plan can help with that.

So let’s start at the beginning. Your Vision.

For your business to grow and prosper, you need to know where you are going. AND you need to communicate this to everybody, so they will know which path to take. You must declare the intention to your staff.

I want to look at a very misquoted story to prove my point. In May of 1961, Kennedy addressed a special session of congress and communicated a powerful vision – he wanted to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. It is quoted all the time – especially in leadership training situations. But people almost always leave out the truly important part. Here is what he actually said:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

That and is pretty important. Without it the whole mission would have been a disaster. You can’t just land a man on the moon and then leave him there to die. AND “return him safely to earth”. Kennedy thought about this. He thought about all the aspects of it and when he added that “AND”, he enabled NASA and the rest of the country to think about ALL aspects of this project. You have to build a rocket, you need some kind of landing gear, you need the ability to propel the rocket off the moon’s surface and reenter the earth’s atmosphere. To do those things you need thousands of people working on the project. And they all knew exactly where they were going and everything that was done pushed the project forward.

Defining your vision is not easy.

I spent an entire weekend with in LA working through this about a year and a half ago. And I still refine it. Do you know what your vision is for your business and have you communicated that to your employees? Can they articulate it almost as well as you can? If not, you are setting yourself up for future problems.

Once you have defined your Vision, you can begin to define your plan to achieve it – and this is where the other parts of your business begin to play a part. Think of it like a map with your Vision as the destination – are all the other parts of your business working to get you there? But what are those other parts?

There are a lot of different books out there that explain the 3 parts of a business, the 4 parts, the 5, the 7, and the 10. I have already talked about what I believe to be the most important part of your business – your Vision. Without it, your business will just go through the motions without any direction or drive. In other words, without growth. The other six are:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Value Delivery (the policies, procedures, and processes that get work done for, or product delivered to clients and customers)
  • People
  • Facilities
  • Financials

Do you have a plan for each section of your business? Is it written down? Has it been shared with your employees so they know what they are supposed to be doing every day to achieve the overall goal? Can you look at your plan, and if you change your sales process and increase sales by 15%, what the effect will be on each and every other part of your business? What will break?

Most entrepreneurs spend their entire business lives watching the different parts of their business break and, metaphorically, playing whack a mole. Something pops up, they take care of it but that forces another aspect of their business out of alignment. Most people stand there for 20 years, mallet in hand, whacking whatever pops up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A Vision Plan lets you calmly look at what is happening in your business, and by asking yourself simple questions and LOOKING AT YOUR PLAN, you can PREDICT what will pop up next so you can fix it BEFORE it becomes a problem. Becomes a problem for you as the business owner, a problem for your employees because they are sitting on top of each other or don’t have a resource they need, or worse yet, a problem for your customer because you did not have the infrastructure to provide them with the goods or services they purchased.

And everything comes back to your Vision. At the beginning of this article I talked about sitting next to your employees all day to make sure everything they do drives your business closer to your destination. You can’t do that. By sharing this document, showing them your Vision Plan, is effectively the same thing. They understand your Vision and their part in it. They can easily ask themselves, does this action propel the business in the direction the owner wants.

The scariest question is do you have this document that you have shared with your employees or are they out there on their own potentially, unintentionally, working against you every day?

She Is Fierce! has partnered with Finding Your Power, a Jacksonville, Florida-based women’s entrepreneurial group offering the Creating Your Vision workshop from July 31-August 2 in Jacksonville.

The Creating Your Vision workshop was designed to educate and inspire entrepreneurs on how to move forward in order to grow their businesses.  If you’re not making the money you want or need, or if you are working harder not smarter, this weekend workshop help you identify what’s holding you back…

She Is Fierce! founder Kelly Youngs will be there with Finding Your Power partners Brooke Lively and Heather Quick… we hope to meet you and get to know you better there!

Learn more about the Creating Your Vision workshop here

 


Brooke Lively

Brooke Lively

Brooke Lively is the co-founder of Finding Your Power and the President of Cathedral Capital, Inc., where she functions as a financial consultant specializing in closely held companies with revenues up to 10 million dollars. She advises firms to help them make the strategic financial decisions necessary to grow their businesses. Brooke and her team currently serve as CFOs for over forty fast growing entrepreneurial companies around the nation, including numerous law firms. Her newest book, 6 Key Numbers Every Entrepreneur Should Know, was published August 2014.

Prior to consulting, Brooke was the full-charge administrator for a seven figure small law firm which she helped to create and grow from $0. She also serves as a Receiver in Texas with a special interest in family owned and operated companies and other assets in dispute. Brooke co-authored a book in 2012 on the subject of receiverships titled Controlling, Protecting and Monetizing Assets in Dispute.

Before entering the legal industry she covered a wide range of public companies as an Equity Analyst with Lindus Advisors. She worked with Prides Capital and Bain Consulting where she gained corporate finance experience, focusing on a restructuring project involving Pegasus Solutions after it was taken private. Brooke holds an MBA with a double concentration in Investments and Corporate Finance from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She has been awarded the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

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