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Biz Plans

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2006 by

Executing your plans effectively is just as important as conceiving them in the first place

It’s the start of another new year and once again you have ambitious plans for your business. In the past, those shiny, new schemes have often grown increasingly tarnished as the year has progressed and you’ve become bogged down in the minutiae of your daily operations. Let’s face it, even the most innovative business plan will do little to help the business, if the plan is poorly, or never fully, implemented. So how can you make sure that this year is going to be different? We have a few suggestions.

Right at the Start
The most important key to properly executing a business plan is to have a good plan in the first place. While a business plan should demonstrate vision and ambition, it should also be firmly based in the realities facing the particular business. It’s as easy to overestimate sales figures as it is to underestimate costs, and doing either will get you in trouble fast, so business owners should always favor conservative forecasts. “Behonest about how things are and what you’re likely to face,” advises Joy Gendusa, business consultant and founder of Postcardmania.com. “An unrealistic plan is useless and can cost your business a great deal.” A well-thought out business plan must also take into account the difficulties
that the firm may encounter along the way. What happens if there is an economic downturn? What happens if a key employee leaves? Building contingencies into a business plan provides the small business owner with flexibility to handle crises without having to abandon or substantially alter the course chartered for the
business.

Execution Checklist
Check your projections—Does
your business plan honestly
anticipate the costs, revenue
potential, and market conditions
you will likely face? Overly optimistic
assumptions are time
bombs that can cripple any
business plan.
Know what your customers
really want—Have you asked?
Make certain your goals address
your customers’ needs.
Create a timetable—Set a
schedule with clearly defined
milestones so that you can
judge your progress.
Make sure you have the right
people—The business plan will
go nowhere without employees
with the experience and talent
to make it work.
Constant review—Regular meetings
will keep your employees
focused on the goals.
Get feedback—Ask your customers
and employees to evaluate
your progress. Their opinions
and suggestions will let you
refine your efforts and keep the
plan on course.

Having the Right Team For the Job
The best and most brilliant plan ever devised won’t do a business any good without employees capable of carrying it out. Small business owners must assemble their teams with an eye toward finding employees who have the right mix of talent and experience for the roles they must play. For example, if the business plan calls for an extensive marketing campaign, it is essential to have employees who have experience in marketing. Business owners must compare the goals of their business plan with the array of talents in their staff and decide if they have a team with all the necessary skills to carry out the plan. If they find their employee ranks lack the necessary talent and experience for a given goal, it may be time to take on additional employees, or consider outsourcing the task.

Review and Feedback
Implementation is an on-going process. Many business plans are launched with high expectations and generate positive early results only to stumble as time passes. A good means of preventing this is frequent,
periodic reviews of the plan’s implementation and its results. These can be as simple as weekly staff meetings where the specific application of the plan is discussed, or a more extensive, structured evaluation process. Constant, scheduled reviews help keep the employees focused on the plan and allow for adjustment of the plan to changing conditions. Management consultant C. Davis Fogg, author of Team Based Strategic Planning, observes that regular reviews are essential for keeping the business plan on track. “Frequent reviews keep attention focused on your goals and let you reallocate resources as you accomplish goals or your strategic situation changes,” Davis said. “Reviewing also promotes a sense of accomplishment to every involved employee, and lets you reward results to ensure commitment and continued top level performance.”

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