Where would any of us be without the maps app on our smartphones? Lost is my guess! We all know how effective these are—they accurately take us from one place to another so effortlessly. The app tells us how far away we are, if there are detours, when to turn, and more.
It would be very helpful to have a map app to help run our businesses. We would know which clients to focus on while saying no to the ones who waste our time. Red “cash flow” flags would pop up periodically, and we would get notices when to take different routes in order to achieve our goals at the end of the year.
There is a way to create a “GPS plan” for your business. The setup process takes four steps, and if you carefully follow the instructions, the plan should help you arrive at your destination on time. Here are the four steps:
A strategic goal is something that is specific, measurable, and hopefully attainable. Typically it’s a revenue number ($1 million in gross sales), but it can also be a number of new accounts or an increase in market share.
Once you decide on your strategic goal(s), mark your calendar for a breakfast meeting on December 31, 2017 with the key people that play a role in your business. The list should include partners, advisors, lawyers, accountants, and the principal players at your company. The first question asked at the meeting will be “Did we achieve or exceed our strategic goal for growing the business?” Everyone at the table should know the answer to this question. This is the destination you put into your GPS plan and share with your key people.
Operational (GPS) Plan
The GPS plan is how you will get from where you are today to where you want to be on December 31st of this year. Much like a road map, your GPS plan will have specific actions to take in order to arrive at your strategic goal by the end of the year. For example, how much revenue will you get from existing customers or clients? How much revenue are you expecting from new clients? Your marketing and social media programs are included in your GPS plan. Everything you do during the year is a means to an end. Your efforts should lead your company to its strategic goal (in other words, your GPS plan keeps you from going on wild goose chases).
Execute and Review
Too often companies create masterful business plans for the year…and then immediately file them away only to pull them out at the end of the year for future planning. The key difference between a business plan and a GPS plan is that you treat the latter as a living, breathing document. A GPS plan gets reviewed regularly (at least monthly) to make sure your company is on track to grow the business this year.
Once a month, sit down with the key people in your company and ask: “Did we hit our monthly revenue number with existing clients?” “Did we meet our monthly goal for new clients?” There is simply no reason to create a GPS plan if you have no intention of following it and being held accountable.
Look for Alternate Routes
You should know by now it’s almost impossible to grow your company by going directly from Point A to Point B; life doesn’t work that way and neither does business. Learn to play the “what if” game. For example, what if your largest customer decides to drop your company for a competitor? What would you do? What if your best salesperson left tomorrow? What if hackers broke into your network? You get the picture. In order to arrive safely at your strategic goal destination on December 31st, you will need to have alternate routes planned in the event one or more “what if” questions becomes a reality. The better prepared your business is at pivoting, the less downtime you will experience.
No one ever said growing a company was easy; it’s not. However, if you take time to put together an accurate, detailed GPS plan, you will exponentially increase the probability of taking your business to the next level…so start mapping your growth!