2017 One Page Strategic Plan
Each year I sit down in December and prepare my year ahead – and a big part of this was preparing my 2017 one page Strategic Plan for Regional Business Toolkit.
Benjamin Franklin is touted to have said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Without a roadmap, or at the very least a destination in mind, there’s no way that you will get ‘there’ (where ever there is).
We take a grocery list when we go to the shops to ensure we get at least half of what we need.
We take time to prepare our suitcase when we go on holiday.
We think about what stock we need to order in for next month.
But I know you know this. I know you’re sitting there thinking that this is plain and obvious common sense.
But I also know that only a handful of local business owners have sat down and prepared a robust plan for 2017. And if I can be blunt and still be friends, I suspect that you’re not one of them. I’m sure you’ve got some goals that you want to achieve this year, perhaps you’ve set yourself some quarterly targets, but almost no local business owners I’ve spoken to over recent weeks has a ‘strategic plan’ that they can put their finger on. If you do, I’d love it if you could scroll straight to the bottom of this article and let me know in the comments below.
Why we don’t plan
There’s lots of reasons that we don’t take the time to plan for the year ahead.
But the biggest reason really struck me this week while I was at the beach teaching my 4 year old to play in the surf. My daughter has found a sudden confidence in the ocean and we spent ages neck deep in the surf (by surf we’re talking 1-2 foot waves… but they were big in her books). Despite the deceptively small waves the current continued to draw us down the beach and I was constantly reinforcing to her the need to keep an eye on a reference point on the shore in addition to all the other things she had concentrate on in front of her.
Business planning is exactly the same. If you don’t keep an eye on a reference point it’s easy to drift sideways without noticing it… but it’s a tough call balancing that with all the other things in front of you that constantly demand your attention (customers, stock, accounts, etc, etc). Especially after you’ve been in business a while it’s easy to get a little complacent when you have a good gut feel for how the year will pan out.
The other reason that we often put our planning further down our “to-do list” is that there is a perception that a business plan needs to be a 30-page document including an updated SWOT analysis, business markets, financial plans and lots more jargon.
If this sounds familiar then read on. I’ll tell you what I do and perhaps we can bust that myth.
Regional Business Toolkit 2017 Plan
There are essentially four “documents” that I look at on an almost daily basis. Yes, daily!
Perhaps it’s the outdoor educator in me but there’s something about hiking from A to B and looking at your compass every dozen steps or so just to make sure you’re still on track. I approach business in exactly the same way and am regularly asking “is what I’m doing right now aligned with where I’m heading?”, or “is there something else I should be doing right now?”
Its important to me to have my plans written in a way that’s simple to read and concise enough to fit on a single page. That way they’re easy to stick up near my computer, or carry around with me wherever I go.
These four “documents” are:
- My 2017 one page Strategic Plan. It’s a one page plan that constantly reminds me why, who and how I’m helping people daily. Its stuck to the wall above my computer. I’ll cover it in a little more detail below.
- My 90 Day Action Plan. This is a list of the top tasks that I need to achieve this quarter to achieve my 2017 targets. I rarely have more than 5-6 tasks in my 90 Day Action Plan. They are specific and actionable, but generally related to larger projects. This too is stuck above my computer.
- My 2017 KPIs. This is a Google Sheet that covers all the metrics that I track each month and includes everything from revenue and expenses, to leads and conversation rates, to email subscribers and blog articles. Its a living document that I am in and out of regularly. I keep a bookmark to this sheet handy at all times and it’s generally one of the first tabs I open when I sit down at my computer.
- Asana, my project and task management tool. While not technically a ‘document’ Asana manages all the daily discrete tasks that I need to do each day (some people would use a diary for this task, so I’m ok calling Asana a ‘document’). This is where the specifics of every task and project are outlined, in order, and scheduled to specific days.
As you can see these four “documents” essentially cover where my focus needs to be at a yearly, quarterly, monthly and daily level. And by referencing each of them daily (like looking back at our bag on the beach) I can ensure that I’m not drifting off course and I’m making the most efficient progress that I can.
A One Page Strategic Plan
There is nothing wrong with a 30-page strategic plan – chances are it’s full of really important thinking. Unfortunately I just know that if I had one it would sit on the shelf gathering dust and I wouldn’t look at it anywhere near often enough. Perhaps you’re different. But I prefer to be able to look at my strategic plan constantly so it needs to be concise and simple to read.
Below is a copy of my actual 2017 Regional Business Toolkit one page Strategic Plan. This is the document that’s stuck to my wall above my desk.
As you can see it’s pretty simple. It covers the why, the who and the what of my business this year and has a small handful of targets that I’ll class as a success when I hit them. It’s not perfect and I’ll review/adjust it periodically through the year. But it’s my compass. More importantly it forms a platform that my 90 Day Action Plan, KPIs and daily tasks all fit under. And there’s no need to file it away in a lever arch binder on the shelf. 😉
I’m completely ok with you using exactly the same structure for your strat plan if you want. If you want, here’s a Word version that you can just fill in the blanks. Or you could scrub one up yourself without too much difficulty.
Let’s have a look at the anatomy of this one page Strategic Plan in a little more detail.
If you already have a good vision statement for your business or organisation then feel free to copy it straight in. Remember that you want to be able to read it at a glance so keep your vision statement as simple as you can.
As above… keep it as simple as you can.
Who are your primary customers? Or who will you give greater focus to this year? I’m a big fan of applying the Pareto Principle to a customer base (who’s the 20% of your customers that are giving you 80% of your success), so sometimes that means your ideal customer can evolve over time. You’ll also see that my plan also refers to “Jenny”, my avatar.
What is it that your customers need from you? What problems are you best suited to help them solve? What pain do people have that they’d love someone to fix for them?
Where will your customers find you? And how will you communicate best with them? A big part of this is answering the question “where does your ideal customer hang out?”, but it’s also about choosing the channels that suite your method of communication the best.
What are your top goals/priorities for the year? Everyone will be very different here so I won’t go into too much detail. But my tip is to keep your goals as focused as possible.
To achieve your top goals for the year, what kinds of actions will you be prioritising over other tasks? List up to 5 (you can’t prioritise more than 5 and still give every task a ‘good go’).
How will you know that this year was a success? What are the top half dozen metrics that you’re seeking? They are likely closely aligned with your priorities (which are aligned with your goals).
Your business planning
In a later article I’ll speak more about my 90 Day Action Plan and what business metrics you need to be tracking, but for now it’s over to you.
If you haven’t yet spent some time thinking about exactly what it is that you are looking to achieve in 2017 then there’s no better time to start than right now. And hopefully I’ve inspired you to put together a simple plan that’s easy to read and is pinned somewhere where you can review it daily and ask yourself those two questions “is what I’m doing right now aligned with where I’m heading?”, or “is there something else I should be doing right now?”
When you have a business plan that you’re happy to work with please scroll down to the comments below and just write “I do!” It doesn’t matter if you prepared one last year of you’ve just copied my outline above but I’d love to know that I’m not alone in planning for my year ahead.