A business plan. A practice plan. Whatever you want to call it, this topic has been spoken about, lectured on and listened to – well, just about to death.
So then why am I taking yet another stab at this over-done, over-used topic? Three reasons.
- It’s planning ‘season’. Most firms have already, or soon will be, gathering at an Annual General Meeting. A natural outcome arising from the rush of possibility and renewed energy toward the future is the requirement to complete a business plan. So time is of the essence for this message.
- It pains me to continue to see a valuable business process being massacred in execution and left to die in drawers and cabinets when it could be the single most powerful tool professionals and their firms have to build their practices and distinguish themselves in a saturated marketplace.
- The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 (and intelligence gathered from understanding The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0) is sadly missed in the planning process. And yet – it is the low hanging fruit that gives rise to how easy this planning process really is.
Oh boy – we have a lot to cover to begin to change the conversation about Planning. But, I’m an optimist. So I’ll dive in and I’ll continue to swim in shark infested waters until we collectively innovate this process!
So my request to you is this: Will you let me help you avoid making the same mistakes over and over again when it comes to business planning? I’ll start with the individual practitioner business (or practice) plan first. All other types of plans, like practice group plans, client team plans and even firm-wide plans can also benefit from this discussion, and will be included in a future post.
Dispelling the myths
Some of this may come as a surprise to you because it’s all you’ve ever known a business plan to be. If that’s the case, welcome to a whole new world!
A business plan is not a:
≠ list of action items (I’ll do this activity with this person by this date).
≠ document that gets completed for the sake of process and is then never referred to again.
≠ static document, completed once (or once a year).
≠ dreaded year-end task.
≠ pain-in-the-neck to complete.
A business plan is:
= the report that’s generated as a result of a planning process.
= a document that provides the context within which an action plan is established and prioritized.
= involves establishing an action plan, but in and of itself, is not an action plan.
= available and accessible.
= a platform to be accountable to a goal.
= is motivating.
What should be in a business plan?
If you’re at a firm that already uses a business plan template, take another look at it and see if it meets the criteria identified below or if it’s really an action plan masking as a business plan. If it’s the latter, you’ll know how to improve it with the outline below.
A business plan involves five key areas of attention:
|Defining your desired state and what success looks like||Purpose of your planYour goalsYour target market(s)Your ideal clients
Measures of success
|Understanding your target market||Market size and characteristicsMarket share and competitionThe buyer and buying processHow to reach your target market
Market trends and challenges
|Evaluating your current state||SWOT analysisYour unique competitive advantageYour existing connectionsCurrent client analysis|
|Taking action||Establish a prioritized action plan (list of tasks)Set targets and deadlinesBe accountable to someone|
The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 impact on planning
The CLIENT EXPERIENCE 2.0 impacts the first three phases of the planning process: Defining the end goal; Understanding your Target Market; and Evaluating your current state. You’ll breeze through these traditionally challenging sections not only with ease, but with confidence, when you complete these sections from the EXPERIENCE your target market is already having, not with the one you want them to have.
So I have an invitation for you: I invite you to join me in the resurrection of the planning conversation so that we may change the way we think about and use this important and powerful business tool. Do you accept?
I wish you good business success.
ps. Check out this great Blog entry about planning by an esteemed colleague of mine, Darren D Walker.