Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States, famously said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” After decades, this still holds true today.
I have heard people ask, “Why make plans when they never work out anyway?” There may be merit in such a question, but imagine not having a plan at all. At least if things changes you can adjust your plans, but having no plan is suicide for any business.
Recently I helped one of my clients in the distribution industry put a plan together. Although they have been successful in the past, they mostly managed the business on the amount of cashflow generated. Although cash is king, as my first year financial management lecturer drilled into us, you also need to know what your levers for success are. Is it sales volume, profitably, quality or uniqueness? Cash only tells you what is in your bank account. If you want to know if you are making a profit and how you can increase sales and margins, you need a set of financial reports, targets and a plan.
The plan I helped my client put together made a phenomenal difference in their business. Not only is the leadership team on the same page, but they are also monitoring their progress weekly to ensure they are in line with the plan. Without a plan you cannot measure progress nor can you measure success.
I used to make use of Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and file-sharing utilities such as Google Drive to maintain plans for clients, it was tricky to ensure that we all worked from the same version, which meant that tasks ended up not being done. If you don’t execute your plan you will be standing still until you go out of business. I have recently moved my clients to aligntoday.com, a cloud application where we capture the company success plan, allocate priorities and tasks, and monitor progress. It’s made a huge difference. Everybody has access to the plan at anytime and from anywhere and tasks get executed. Everybody is engaged on the road to success.
Keep on planning!