Sunday, November 09, 2008

Business Plan in a Month, Part 3

Part 1 of this series is here.
Part 2 is here.

In this installment we'll look at your company goals.

But first, let's take a look at alternatives to doing it yourself. Matsonian posted a comment on the first part of this series, pushing his product for creating a business plan. Pure spam, but I left it because it's relevant. I've never used that product, or heard of it before. You might want to check it out.

I have used Business Plan Pro, however. I'm not sure I'd endorse it. After all, it is basically a tool that interviews you and has you do some busy work. When you're done, you get a kludgy business plan, but at least you have one! If you are then motivated to learn the tool and create a more elegant plan, you can do that.

The tool is not important in this process. You can do it all without a tool.

But if the problem is motivation and getting started, then these tools may help.

Now, let's look at goals for your company.

- - - - -

Here's the bad news: I want you to make a commitment of 20 minutes every day until you've written down seven things . . .

- Your company mission statement

- Three primary goals for the first quarter of 2009

- Three goals for the year as a whole

That's it.

The most important thing about business plans is that they exist. And, to be honest, the shorter the better. If you come out of this with seven paragraphs, that would be perfect.

PLEASE agree to set aside 20 minutes every morning, before you get busy with everything else, to focus on this. Sit and consider the seven sentences (or seven paragraphs) you need to create.

The first rule of goal-setting is to take it seriously. That means

- Don't rush it

- Think about it

- Work backward
(from your ultimate goal to shorter-term goals)

- Write down your goals.

One important conclusion to draw from all these rules: Don't do hasty goal-setting in the week between Christmas and New Years. Goal-setting is arguably the most important thing in your life, and your business.

- - - - -

Item One: Mission

For a complete discussion of values, vision, and mission, I highly recommend the web site and book Relax Focus Succeed. In particular, for your personal lives, you might want to look at the following articles:

- Getting Started with Goal-Setting

- Hierarchy: From Values to Actions

- List of Values

I find that it is much easier to create a mission statement if you start by considering the values you hold and wish to maximize. For example, our company honors the following values and principles:

- Honesty, Integrity
- Fairness
- Skill and Ability
- Good Personal Relationships
- Balanced Life
- Professionalism
- Helping Others

Those values lead us to our company mission statement:

    Our vision is to provide the highest quality technical support available to small and medium size businesses at a reasonable rate.

    We believe that profitability will follow from providing a great service at a good price. We will be honest, accurate, and professional. We will support each other in pursuit of these goals.

    We will not lose sight of the fact that we employ and work with human beings, and that we place a high value on positive personal relationships. This works hand in hand with many positive aspects of customer service and thereby supports our profitability. But we also acknowledge that there are times when we will sacrifice profitability to achieve and maintain positive, supportive relationships within our company and between KPEnterprises, our clients, and the larger community.

Obviously, you need to come up with the values and principles that are meaningful to you and your company.

There is no success in following someone else's dream.

Summary: This is obviously more than one sentence or one paragraph. You don't need all this to have a great mission statement. But if you spend 20 minutes a day, you'll have a great mission statement in just a few days.

- - - - -

Items Two, Three, Four: Goals for the first quarter of 2009

All that mission statement stuff is quite ethereal. Now let's look at real world actions.

What do you want to achieve in the first quarter of next year? Pick three things that are more important than anything else. They might include maintaining profitability, increasing profitability, hiring new staff, retaining all clients in a down economy, or even adding three managed service clients during the quarter.

Be as specific as you can. In particular, you should be specific enough to measure whether or not you are successful.

Summary: You really only need three sentences here.

Many people prefer to write these goals as an affirmative statement: "We will gain three new managed service clients." Or "We will increase revenue by five percent in the quarter."

- - - - -

Items Five, Six, Seven: Three goals for the year as a whole

In some ways, this is like the previous assignment, only easier.

What three things do you want to achieve in 2009 that are more important than anything else?

This is the ultimate "big picture" time. But don't get unrealistic just because you have a whole year. You still need to measure your success.

Again, goals might include increasing profitability every quarter, getting 80% of labor revenue from managed service, or implementing AutoTask as your PSA system.

- - - - -

Remember that little binder we started working on? It should now contain your financials from 2008 (we worked on this last time.

With luck, you might also have some information in there for 2009 projections.

Now you can add a Goals section to that. Include your mission statement, goals for 2009, and goals for Q1.

Next time we'll re-examine the 2009 numbers in light of these goals.


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