Everyone knows the benefit of having a clear business vision and strategy!
Or do they?
The benefits of a clear strategy
It’s imperative for all firms to have a clear business vision and to effectively communicate that vision to their employees. Without a clear business vision, there are bound to be differences of opinion or even outright conflict over where the business should be headed. So, how do you set your business vision?
- Write a business plan
- Communicate your vision to your team
- Use your vision as the basis for all decision making in the business (this is the tough bit).
Most firms don’t have a business plan
By skipping the business planning process they’re not forced to address the trade-offs inevitably required to grow successfully. In my experience, less is more. The tighter you keep the focus of your business and the less stuff you can work on at any one time, the greater your chances of succeeding.
By not addressing trade-offs (and therefore not getting laser-focussed), you create system complexity, staff complexity, poor profitability and a very hard life for yourself!
It also goes without saying that the plan must be in writing and easily accessible for all staff to refer to when needed. Firms that do have a business plan often find it’s too long and therefore isn’t reviewed regularly.
If your business plan isn’t being used as a month-to-month management tool, it’s irrelevant.
Firms that have a short, sharp business plan don’t always share it with everyone on the team; therefore it provides no unifying focus or accountability. One of the key roles for any business leader is creating the right culture and focus within the business. By sharing the business plan with the whole team, you start this process. Simply sharing the initial plan is not enough, however. You need to continue the communication process by regularly referring back to the business plan. At regular meetings, if you’re asked a question you know is already covered off in the plan, simply say; “Let’s see what it says in the business plan.” This reinforces the importance of the plan and helps you and your team keep focussed. For most people, the hardest part of setting your vision is using the plan as a basis for making all decisions in relation to the business. Entrepreneurial types and salespeople in particular find it very hard to say ‘no’ to new opportunities. Without a clear business vision, lots of new opportunities look good:
- Should you work with professional connections?
- Is a client referral strategy more appropriate?
- Would both of the above work for your business?
- Should you look to acquire another firm or client bank, the way some of your competitors have done?
- What about a merger with that other financial planning firm down the road?
- There’s an opportunity to work with a divorce lawyer who can refer wealthy divorcees; why wouldn’t we do it?
Taken in isolation, each of these could be an opportunity for growth. But without a vision for where you’re headed, there can be lots of time and energy spent pursuing these so-called opportunities. As the owner of the business, you might have an instinct for which ones are worth going after and which make less sense. However, do you find yourself constantly restraining your salespeople who have just run off and started doing business in an area that suits them, but doesn’t suit the vision of the business? Too many opportunities on the table and errant salespeople becomes draining for business owners and creates system complexity and difficult personnel issues – issues that so many owners hate managing.
- Make a business plan;
- communicate it regularly to your team; and
- refer to it whenever you make key decisions.
You’ll be amazed at the difference having a clear business vision makes.
By Brett Davidson Google
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