The End of the Dust-Covered Business Plan – Six Steps to More Productive Business Planning

It’s that time of year again. (No, I don’t mean “fall back” – that was last weekend.) It’s time to take out the 2010 business plan, dust it off, and see how things have gone. Now where is that plan? In the back of the desk drawer? Under the stack of papers on the credenza?

Isn’t that the problem with business planning?

The new year will soon be upon us. We’re excited about capitalizing on the opportunities that lie ahead. We envision all the things we can do to better serve our clients and grow our business. We set goals and think of a bunch of great ideas to achieve them, but then we get caught up in the day-to-day, and the plan is set aside or put away…and the next thing we know, it’s November.

I have been involved in business planning for many years – as an advisor, as a branch manager and as a practice management consultant. Every year I lead business planning workshops as well as work with individual advisors and teams to develop and implement their plans.

Over time, I have learned that six steps are essential for successful business planning:

1.        Define your vision. Knowing where you want to go is the important first step for all successful planning. Your vision for your ideal practice should include what you want it to look like in quantitative terms as well as descriptions of your clients and their experience and your own work and personal life.

2.       Assess your current practice. Review each of the five major areas of Purpose, Client Experience, Support, Planning and Growth. If you’d like a copy of my Business Assessment checklist, send me an email.

3.       Establish your quantitative goals. There are many areas where specific quantitative goals can be set; choose the ones that make the most sense for your practice. For some areas, you may want to consider two goals – a minimum goal and a reach goal. If you have defined a vision for your ideal practice, set five-year goals to achieve that vision and then fill in intermediate goals to serve as milestones along the way.

4.      Determine your strategic initiatives. These are the specific strategies, what you want to do to implement improvements and achieve your goals. Most advisors focus on three areas – improve your client experience, improve your support structure and grow your business.

At this point many advisors think their planning is complete and simply stop – marking the beginning of the dust-covered business plan. But the next two steps will help ensure that doesn’t happen!

5.       Implement your initiatives. The implementation process begins with prioritizing your list and giving each one a completion or implementation date. Then develop an action plan for each one, outlining everything that will be done to make it happen.

6.      Create accountability. Just as you meet with your clients to review progress toward their goals, schedule time to review your own progress – both in terms of your list of initiatives as well as your quantitative goals. Progress on strategic initiatives should be reviewed weekly or semi-monthly, while quantitative goals can be measured on a quarterly basis.

Are you ready to implement your own dust-free business planning process? If you would like to discuss getting some help, send me an email and let’s schedule a time to talk!

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