Are You a Planner or a Doer?

Ed Roach, writing at the Small Business Branding blog asks a very good question, "Are you a planner or a doer?"  He writes, "Ask anyone in business what their plans are for the upcoming year?
Chances are good that most will say, ‘I’m planning on taking my
business to the next level’”

I guess that’s as opposed to "taking my business back a level or two".  I would hope that everyone who reads MYOB is interested in "taking the business to the next level" or you wouldn’t be here.

The correct answer to Ed’s question is "I’m a planner and a doer."  If you plan without doing you’ll likely fail.  If you do without planning, you’ll most likely fail."  You have to do both.

The questions you have to ask yourself are:

  • What is my business’ current level?
  • What is the next level?
  • What do I have to do to make up the difference?

Three simple questions–simple to ask, not so simple to answer.

But to move to that "next level" it’s imperative that you answer them with specific, measurable steps.  Ed mentions the large number of people who resolve to lose weight every year.  Where most folks go wrong is saying "I’m going to lose 50 pounds this year".  That’s the weight-loss equivalent of taking the business to the ‘next level".  They’re both open-ended goals with no strategy to make them happen.

If you really want to lose 50 pounds in 2008, you have to lose one pound per week.  How do you do that?  Easy.  Either cut 3,500 calories out of your weekly food intake or add 3,500 calories of exercise each week, or do some combination of the two.  3,500 calories equal one pound.  Lose one pound per week for fifty weeks and you’ve done it.  Simple.

It may be simple, but it’s not easy.  You have to have the discipline to stick with your plan for the full fifty weeks.  You have to have the resolve to double up in the week following a week where you didn’t lose any weight.  The key is to measure your progress and make adjustments as necessary.

Great.  But what if I want to increase my sales by 20% this year?  Again, simple but not easy.  Every business is different, but you have to break that 20% increase down into small, easy-to-measure steps.  How many more units must you sell each week to get that 20% bump?  How much must you increase your average sale?  How many new customers do you need each week?  These are all measurable metrics that you can track on a weekly, or even daily, basis. 

Just as the dieter can change tactics from day to day (packaged diet dinner one meal, salad the next or jog one day, swim the next) the business owner can do the same (advertising, promotions, price reductions, salesman commissions).  As the year goes on, keep careful records.  If something works, do more of it.  If it doesn’t work, find out why and either give up that particular tactic or tweak it until it does work.  And measure, measure, measure.  If you were trying to lose that 50 pounds, you wouldn’t wait until November to step on the scale.  The same if true for your business.  The fourth quarter is not the time to find out that you’re running behind last year.

At the start of the year strategic planning is the single most productive thing you can do. Hours spent now in laying out your strategy for 2008 will have huge returns later.


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