Working out your next steps on the road to business growth: Part 2 – Planning

In part 1, we covered the basic preparations you need to make to scope out your risks before embarking on growth. You’re then in a position to start planning.

For me, one of the key aspects to address in a plan is when to turn back. Perhaps it sounds negative, however with risk there is the chance of failure. Having a plan to ensure you survive the worst case scenarios means you can focus your attention on the positive side and making it work – without any nagging doubts.

Here’s an example from a real life and death situation to illustrate my point: I recall reading, in John Krakauer’s “Into thin air”, a chilling account of the disaster on Mount Everest in 1996 when eight climbers died.

The climbers had been given a turn-around time of 14:00 on the final push for the summit regardless of where they were, in order to ensure safe return to the camp below. However, on this occasion, many climbers got caught up in “summit fever” and pressed on, despite an approaching storm – only to freeze to death as they got stuck on the mountain overnight.

So in order to plan appropriately, what do you need to do?

Seven Steps for Planning Growth:
1) Identify the key priorities for your plan e.g. grow sales by 50% in the next 12 months (which might require a new sales person, telemarketing, a website with SEO and online marketing etc). It’s vital to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve.

2) Create a 100 day plan that will achieve your vision – or the first part of it – based on average to good outcomes from your preparation assessment. Take care to work through the cashflow, as lack of cash causes over 50% of business failures in the UK.

3) Have a separate plan for how you’d handle the worst case and keep it in the bottom drawer – for emergency use only. Establish your equivalent of the “turn-around time” on Everest.

4) Decide who you need on board to make the plan happen – for instance specialists on lead generation, web site optimisation, or additional staff internally to handle the increased business.

5) Have internal meetings that involve the key members of staff so everyone is not only aware of the plan, but have also been a part of developing it. Be open to discovering hidden talents in your people!

6) If new staff are required, ensure you have good processes in place first that allow the jobs to be built up from easy-to-understand tasks, so people can get going and adding value quickly.

7) Ensure you have the right mentality. Things will undoubtedly get tough at times as not everything will go to plan. Keep calm, then review and update your plan in the light of experience to increase your chances of success.

Sometimes, opportunities to take a step forward are presented to you and they may not be at exactly the right time – for instance the landlord would like you to move out to enable him to redevelop the building; someone is recommended to you and you’d love to get them on board now. The same steps for preparation and planning can be employed to assess whether they are worth taking – or not.

In part 3, we’ll look at the how to implement your plan.

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