Create a plan, set SMART goals and share

Creating a measurable and achievable strategic plan is vital to the success of your business.

Not having a plan is like driving down the street at night without headlights on. A plan is a roadmap to your future, what you are going to be measured against and importantly, planning facilitates the process of getting the entire management team on the same page.

In that sense, your plan is a great communication tool and should be shared with all stakeholders, including employees, your board of directors, outside investors, banks and even with customers and suppliers.

I believe there are three concepts at work when putting together a plan. First, are the assumptions used to generate the financial aspect of your plan, second are the guiding principles of your organization that drive how the plan will come together and third, that the plan is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

All of this planning will be more accurate and by definition, more useful if you can gain the perspective of your outside advisers who have similar, but not necessarily the same experience.

Think it through
Entrepreneurs always say they want to be a $100 million company, but they do not always think through what actions or inputs are required to get them to that point.

For example, what if you know that by making 100 phone calls in a quarter, you will generate $1 million in newly identified sales opportunities in your pipeline. That means you need to make at least eight phone calls a week.

Are you measuring how many calls are being made each week? Do you have the right person or number of people to accomplish this goal?

It’s not all numbers
In almost all plans, there is too much focus on the numbers. Any good plan needs to go beyond dollars and cents and focus on the second concept which are the principles that your business is going to live by.

This part of planning breaks your business down to its most fundamental level in terms of challenging why you exist and what actions are required to get you to where you want to go. The non-financial aspects of your plan will drive your success more than putting numbers on paper.

Your core values should be a small set of timeless guiding principles that define your culture, who you are and what you stand for. The next part is to define your core focus or your company’s sweet spot, your filter to help you avoid all the bright, shiny stuff that can cause you to drift.

The final concept is making sure that you run your plan through the “screen” of, is it SMART?  Given the availability of resources and time, is the plan well-defined and can it be achieved reasonably within the agreed upon timeline?

Once completed, the plan needs to be re-evaluated annually and extended one year. A plan is the roadmap that is vital to your success.

Jeffrey Kadlic is co-founder and managing partner at Evolution Capital Partners LLC