A photo showing the underside of the bridge, highlighting the long-lasting foundations that have kept it solid over many years.

3 steps to laying foundations for growth

As a founder, you’re all about the big ideas, vision and accelerated growth to achieve global domination! You don’t have time, or even need, old-school planning and documents (that might just sit on a shelf). Yeah, we know. And we also know that’s what the other 90% of failed startups said too.

So, why was Ben Franklin right when he said ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ or something along those lines…

Planning is not simply about producing an output.

Planning is a process that helps develop ideas, get everyone on the same page and provide a framework for achieving your vision. It also shows shareholders you have the level of maturity to run a successful enterprise. It also provides a guide for your leadership team, your own decision-making and helps your entire organisation to stay on track.

The process of developing any plan helps everyone involved articulate their views on where they think the business is going, how it will get there and often, how they intend to operate. This is the first step in business leaders and their teams finding their common purpose and nutting out crucial points of difference.

The process of developing a plan also creates confidence in shareholders, customers and potential investors as it shows a level of maturity in knowing how to run a business. A well-developed and thorough plan, that is used in a practical way, often inspires greater levels of confidence than all the great ideas, sales and positive feedback combined.

So, what do you need in a modern plan stack (like a tech stack but plans – you get it)?

Strategic plan

A strategic plan (often developed and owned by a governance Board) is the starting point in your suite of plans, this one is crucial – never overlook its importance or try to shortcut the development process. This is a top-level overview of your vision and how you’ll achieve it as an organisation. In the past, it was standard practice to develop a five-year strategy but with the pace of innovation and global change, most businesses now stick to a three-year window with an annual review to ensure they are keeping pace with competitors and the rest of the world. A strategic plan only needs to be six to ten pages long. This plan should never sit on a shelf as it will guide all decisions and operations and will be used by your stakeholders, investors, shareholders and customers to hold you and your governance Board to account.

Business plan

Sitting under the strategy is a business or corporate plan that provides an overview of how the business is organised and functions (led by the CEO and leadership team). This maps out what needs to be done day-to-day to achieve the company’s strategy. A business plan should include detailed descriptions of products or services, pricing strategies, marketing plans and financial projections for both short-term and long-term goals. It should also outline who will be responsible for what tasks within the organisation and how those tasks will be achieved.

Operational plans

Along with these two foundational keys, it’s also good practice to have an operational plan or at least a work plan for each business unit. These provide details on how day-to-day operations will be run within your organisation and would include measures such as cost control policies, procedures for customer service management, quality control standards, business continuity and health and safety guidelines. To keep operations running smoothly, this type of planning ensures that everyone involved knows exactly what needs to be done and by when.

Really, all three levels of planning create essential tools to achieve success. After all, you can’t expect to receive funding or even manage your own business funds effectively if you haven’t thought through and written down what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there.

We make planning simple – let’s chat.

Image courtesy of pixabay

Posted in Governance, Leadership.