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How I Approach Business Planning (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this three-part series of blogs, I covered building a strong 3-5 Year Strategic Vision, a process I call Strategy Focus.

The output of this is a one-page document called your Strategy Focus Map.

The next stage in this planning process – Part 2 – is about creating your 12-month Plan

Essentially, your 12-month business plan is a slice of this 3-5 Year Vision, which is why doing that work first matters. Without it, there is no bigger purpose to aim at (ref: Viktor Frankl as to why this matters).

If you joined me for the live training, this will be a recap.

If you missed it but would like to catch up, you can still access the recordings by joining our success.audere.com.au community before 30 January and accessing the training in the Courses section (it’s called Planning for Success), but only until 30 January, after which it will only be available to existing community members.

With that said, let me take you through a proven methodology I’ve honed over the past seven years for crafting a robust one-page business plan tailored to your firm’s needs for the coming year.

But First

When coming into this process, you may find that it is useful to do some deep thinking first.

An old boss of mine once told me that he thought when it came to leadership that thinking was one of the most important activities of all

It’s ironic then that much of what we take for granted in the business environment, particularly when it comes to small businesses and practices in particular, everything seems to be geared up towards removing this headspace and time to do deep thinking.

To create an effective business plan, the best possible outcome is for you to come into this having given careful consideration to six key questions

  • List 3-6 things you’d like to achieve in over the coming 12 months.
  • For each, identify at least one way you could measure it.
  • List 3-6 skills you’d like to improve, learn or master.
  • List 3-6 things that could stop you from having a great year.
  • Come up with at least one strategy to overcome each.
  • Finally, list all the projects you think you’d like to get done in the coming year and why each matters to you, your team, your business or your clients in terms of producing beneficial outcomes.
Principles

The process of creating a business plan is as beneficial – maybe even more so – than the output, yet too often there’s this myth that gets “sold” that having a plan itself separates successful practices from their peers.

It’s not that simple, and it’s important to point out that creating a plan and turning it into results are very different things.

(If you’d like to go into this with me, make sure you join me for the third live session – Success Metrics – or make sure you don’t miss Part 3 of this blog series!)

As we go through this process I’m going to also be leading into exploring the psychological and scientific concepts underpinning a methodology for translating business plans into reality.

Specifically, we’ll be unpacking how the power of strategic focus from “The One Thing” and insights from behavioural economics on why we self-sabotage allow us to design accountability systems and execution processes that turn intentions into outcomes.

These principles explain both why conventionally sound plans frequently fail, and how our framework bridges this execution gap.

The One Thing

The book that really opened my eyes and changed my approach is “The One Thing” by Gary Keller.

Before reading this book, I used to advise my clients to tackle their top three business projects each quarter.

“The One Thing” helped me realize that multitasking doesn’t boost productivity. In fact, it can hinder progress.

From that day forward, I started inviting practices to focus only on one project at a time, and the results were extraordinary.

This “next domino” philosophy now lies at the heart of our agile planning process.

It has taught me that monomaniacal execution trumps divided ambition.

If you’re looking to boost your productivity and achieve greater success, I highly recommend reading “The One Thing.” Its powerful concepts will help you focus on what truly matters and propel you towards your goals.

Elements of the Domino Plan

There are three elements to this.

Bear in mind, I’m giving you the high level for this. If you want more of the detail – the “how” – you can get it by joining our success.audere.com.au community before 30 January and accessing the training in the Courses section (it’s called Planning for Success).

First up, we’ve got the Impact Analysis.

Picture this as a creative brainstorming session where we bring all your business ideas and dreams to life on paper.

Get them all out. Every passion project, the thing you meant to do last year, and crazy idea that “just might work”. Feel free to jot them all down without judgment. This is about analysing what should be the priorities.

Our special framework takes those massive projects and breaks them down into manageable pieces. This makes it easier for you to explain your vision and put it into action.

Next, we move on to the 12-month Roadmap.

This is the bridge between your visionary ideas and tangible outcomes. It’s made up of five essential elements:

  • Themes. A theme is essentially a statement that captures your high-level objective for the year. Think of it as answering the question: “What 4-6 things would you like to achieve, fix, or overcome in the next 12 months?” At this point, don’t get too caught up in the specifics or measurables.
  • Targets. When it comes to measuring progress, it’s important to define specific metrics that can help us track our goals effectively, but you already know this…
  • Focus. This is where we start to think about what might need to happen under the bonnet for these things to come to fruition. It starts with asking questions about where our focus should be, and what you need to prioritise or invest time doing or learning,
  • Obstacles. Unexpected challenges can easily throw things off track unless you can anticipate them before they arise. By identifying potential obstacles in advance, we turn unforeseen plan wreckers into expected hurdles we’re ready to handle.
  • Payoff. The final stage, the payoff, is crucial for businesses, especially larger ones where it’s important to bring the whole team on board. Take a look at each area of your business that you want to develop over the next 12 months and ask yourself: what are the personal benefits for you and your team if this plan is successfully implemented?

These elements work together to vividly illustrate your goals, measure progress, prioritize the skills you need, anticipate challenges, and define your motivations.

Finally, we’ve got the Domino Projects.

All that remains is to create that project pathway we discussed earlier.

This is where we take everything you could do and decide what you should.

The key idea, again, is to tackle each project one at a time, starting from the beginning of the year. What we’re aiming for here is something called the “domino order.”

When it comes to determining the right order to tackle our projects, our objective is often to create the necessary resources for ourselves at the beginning of the pipeline – such as time, profit, revenue, and focus – that will make later projects easier to undertake or, in extreme cases, even unnecessary.

Keep Going?

If you’ve found value in the insights shared throughout this, I strongly recommend you keep going by joining our success.audere.com.au community before 30 January and accessing the training in the Courses section (it’s called Planning for Success)

Make sure you also join me for Part 3 by RSVP’ing here.

If you’d like me to facilitate this process for you and your team, please get in contact ASAP, as I’ll only be taking on new advisory clients for the next few days before bunkering down for our first 12-week implementation sprint.

And finally, if there’s someone you think would benefit from knowing about this approach, make sure to share it. They will thank you for it.

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