A week ago, C3C was privileged to participate in a NetPlus Alliance Membership Meeting, spending quality time talking with clients and having conversations with potential clients. In those interactions, especially with potential partners one fact stood out. For small to medium sized businesses, business planning is often a lost, or at least not written down art form.
If you’re not familiar with NetPlus Alliance, it’s a member-driven organization dedicated to helping industrial distributors and suppliers achieve above market growth and profitability. NetPlus is a buying group that helps industrial distributors achieve above market growth and profitability through stronger channel partnerships and access to a growing member network.
That’s why we were there.
The C3C teams’ experience is heavily steeped in supplier-distributor strategies and dynamics. We want to bring that expertise to bear on helping clients grow and prosper. With a motto of “Are you ready to grow?” NetPlus is a great place for acquiring new clients. It’s a part of our business plan.
Many of the folks we talked to at the meeting had a related question for us. “What would you do for us to help us grow?” “We’ll,” we’d say, “it depends on what your challenges as a business are.” They’d say, “We’ll we just want to grow.” “Great,” we’d say. “Do you have a business plan?”
They’d say, “Yes but it’s not written down.”
How many times have you heard, especially after a failure, someone saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Truth told that phrase should be a Murphy’s law. A business plan is a roadmap. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will do. If you know your destination, the map gives you the most direct and efficient route to it.
Many small-to-medium businesses don’t have a formal business plan. As often as not, that’s because the idea that led to starting the business was a good one and achieved rapid success. But, with success comes challenges. More employees and customers. Growing supply and logistic issues. Changing market dynamics and competitive landscapes. And the list goes on.
Unfortunately, flying by the seat of your pants can lead to challenges.
Creating a functional business plan can seem a daunting task. We are not going to say it’s easy, but you really don’t have to be an MBA to do it. There are 2 good routes to creating yours. The first is to do your research. Finding business plan templates that prompt you to ask the right questions and help you formulate the right strategies is the path to take. The second? Pay an expert to help you create an effective one. Consider it an investment in the future.
The 6 important steps to creating an effective business plan are:
Create an effective strategy – the best approach is to create an annual plan
Determine future financial needs, budget to make the plan a success
Attract investors and lenders, if needed
Measure your efforts, create KPIs – what defines success for each function of the plan
Maintain the plan in years that follow
Not every business is angled towards outside investment for growth. In that case, the first 3 elements are the crux of the plan. Strategically, here’s what you need to outline in your plan:
Facts re: business status today (use your data!)
And, in many cases forgotten, a Succession Plan
If you can define these elements on paper, even loosely, you’ve got a good start. This is where a good, outside consultant can play a key role. A business plan is an important and strategic tool for entrepreneurs. A good plan not only helps entrepreneurs focus on the specific steps necessary for them to make business ideas succeed, but it also helps them to achieve short-term and long-term objectives.
Most small business (SMB) owners or stakeholders are entrepreneurs, who may be capable of analysis and decision making in one or 2 of these areas, but seldom schooled in all. A business consultant’s role is to advise, facilitate and help guide your thinking in areas you need most. The process is critical, C3C has created a simple model that provides a roadmap for success.
With C3C, you’ll have access to a full range of business acumen. We believe in helping businesses create and execute their plan based on a straightforward and time-tested approach. If you’ve taken any B-school classes or business seminars, you may be familiar with the concept. OGSIM…standing for Objectives, Goals, Strategies, Initiatives and Measurement. It’s the foundational philosophy of companies like Coca-Cola and P&G.
Objectives: Strategic ideals central to the business. Objectives can include things like maximizing financial performance and achieving market penetration.
Goals: Specific, measurable, and attainable business outcomes, and should include a timeline for goals to determine success.
Strategies: Plans of action critical to completing goals’ key support items to drive behavior necessary to achieve results.
Initiatives: Tactical details of execution used to build upon the key strategies.
Measurements: Arguably the most important part, all the previous steps must be measured in some to determine their effectiveness
Notice that nowhere in OGSIM does it narrow to sales or marketing or manufacturing. A business plan is neither a sales nor marketing plan. It’s the life support system of a whole business and all its moving parts. It needs to encompass all the factors necessary for business success.
If you are a Coca-Cola or P&G, you can hire the staff needed to create and execute the plan. Most SMBs aren’t in that position. That’s why considering the use of a business consulting firm is a good idea. You can get the expertise you need, when you need it, without adding payroll. Will it cost you some money? Yes, but in the end, the decision will pay dividends.
Mark Semmelmayer, C3Consulting Writer,