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Why Create an Annual Business Plan?

Aug 17, 2007
Can you imagine going on a road trip without knowing your destination? Or, building your house without plans? The same can be said about running your business without a plan.

They say that -If you dont know where you are going, any road will do.- But if you dont know where you are going how do you know when you get there? Or if the road you are on is the right road or the scenic, roundabout route?

Planning is essential if you have somewhere to go. If you want to grow your business, if you want to have more free time, if you want to introduce a new product, if you want to enter a new market.

You dont need to plan if you have reached your destination, if your business is all you hoped it would be. BUT have you considered that the world is changing pretty rapidly these days. Even if you are happy with what you have, your environment is changing, which, if you like it or not, is going to change your business.

Therefore, we come back again to the need to plan.

What planning is NOT:

It is NOT that 120 page document you created when you tried to get funding to start your business. That document was essential to start your business and it might be useful every 5 or so years if you change your business focus but it does not work for an annual plan.
It is NOT a document that is placed on a bottom shelf and looked at once a quarter or once a year.
It is NOT a to do list
It is NOT a wish list

What is annual planning?

Annual planning is about creating a vision for the next 3-5 years and then formulating concrete plans to achieve that vision.
It is about deciding on a future and how you intend to obtain that future, one year at a time.
It is about creating measurable goals that can be tracked.
It is about tracking those goals on a weekly and monthly basis so that they are actually achieved at the end of the year. Goals can only be tracked if they are measurable.
Annual planning is about understanding what is working and not working and using that to set further action plans.
Annual planning should also be able to able to monitor the performance and effectiveness of your staff over the year.

A well structured plan will also have the ability to be used as an effective monthly reporting tool by managers. It becomes the common language.

Planning is not only for whole businesses but also for business teams, divisions, projects and even individuals.

Planning brings about focus and clarity of what is to be achieved. Equally when done effectively, planning brings about alignment between team members and people become accountable for completion of their goals.

Planning brings about business success and bottom line results.
About the Author
By Graeme Nichol President of Arcturus Advisors. Please visit their website at http://www.arcturusadvisors.com. Arcturus Advisors works with business leaders to close the gap between great strategies and mediocre results. We use a process to get businesses to focus on a shared vision and agree on how to achieve results that far exceed individual contribution.
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