EOFY PlanningHappy EOFY.  Time to relax right? Wrong – this is the best time to review your business plan for the new financial year ahead.  Yep, thats right, no rest for the wicked.

Here are some of our tips to make the your business plan process more productive (or should I say, actually useful).

Don’t fly solo – get your team involved

Business planning works best when it’s a team effort. I mean if you want people to help you reach your goals why wouldn’t you want them to be a part of the process in the first place.  Involve not only your key staff but also your advisors, such as your accountant, bookkeeper, your mentor (if you have one), and others who can contribute meaningfully to the planning, such as an IT expert if you envisage a major website overhaul.

Ask people to bring their ideas to the table, ask for their input (and actually listen) and try to hold the meeting away from the business to avoid getting caught up in day to day business operations.  It’s time to work on the business and not in it.

Review your business (especially your numbers)

How do you know what you want to implement or what has worked if you don’t know what actually happened in the past 12 months?  There is no point plucking random financial goals out of thin air.

Start with a review of your business as it currently stands, focusing on four key questions:

  • What’s working well for us at the moment that we should continue doing?
  • What’s not working − what should we drop or do less of?
  • What has the most business potential for the future?
  • What can we realistically achieve given our current structure?

A change is as good as a holiday

Change is not necessarily a bad thing but changing for the sake of changing is not the goal either.  Your combined thinking with your new found planning posse, may produce some required changes.

For example, you may need to adapt your existing products and services, seek new markets or distribution channels, update your processes, implement new technology or change your business model entirely.

These changes are more likely to occur if there is consensus. Bear in mind that resistance often comes when people feel their comfort zones or their jobs are threatened. Address these issues right at the start and involvement is key to implementing beneficial change.

Figure out capacity

Any changes will likely require some investment in new skills, new products or services, new techniques or processes or other changes in capacity.

Get help from your accountant to complete a return on investment (ROI) analysis if you need new equipment or even new staff. You need to know how much extra business needs to be generated for a reasonable payback and also how the business can access the funds for the growth. For example, will you need a larger credit line, loan or new capital?

Teamwork makes the dream work

Once you have planned where you want to take the business, concentrate on the next 12 months. Set some end-of-year goals, and then work backwards to create the stepping stones that will take you there. Your role now is to get everyone on board by clearly communicating the plan to them and why these goals are important for them to achieve.

Community goals are more motivating than imposed goals, so get at least your key staff involved in the goal setting. Immediate goals are easier to focus on than longer-term goals so make sure each person understands what is required from them this week, this month and this quarter.

Review review review

A major challenge with all business planning is that it is often done at the beginning of the financial year when optimism and motivation are high. We are so busy “high fiving” ourselves for a great year just gone, we don’t realise end of financial year exhaustion sets in and we go back to being caught up in working “in” the business rather than “on” the business.

Business goals won’t be taken seriously unless you set regular dates to review your progress – such as every 90 days. You (and your planning team) need to be held accountable.  Once people know that you will be calling them to account at these progress meetings, they will be more motivated keep your planning on track.

Business planning is not a set and forget task.  Not something you do once, and it then gathers dust in your office. Not a secret squirrel task that nobody knows what it actually contains.  Your business plan should be a working document – something to inspire you, something to aim for and something to guide your entire team to achieve.