Business Planning Process for an Existing Business

Charting your course plays a major role in the luck you bring to your business. This week, I conducted my company’s annual business planning process and review sessions. It took about 3-4 hours each day over 2 days. The business planning process for an existing business, one that has products and services and customers, is usually different than one for a new enterprise. Existing businesses have to take into account the needs of current customers as well as figure out how to get new ones.business planning process for existing business

Here is the business planning process we use to hammer out our plan:

  1. Discuss last year’s accomplishments and shortcomings, including “small wins”
  2. Review our mission and values that shape what we tackle going forward
  3. Review current status of and new ideas for each component of the business
    • Infrastructure
    • Products and services
    • Customer Service
    • Marketing
    • Operations
  4. Rank the large list of activities we come up with based on estimated time involved to complete and impact to our customers and business
  5. Prioritize the activities we feel will result in the biggest bang for the buck

This exercise results in a one-page action list that we review a few times a year to 1) see if we are on track and 2) see what needs to change. It has been a very useful way to crystallize our collective thoughts and get everyone rowing in the same direction – and that leads to good luck. It is not a 15-20 page document, just a list – see the screenshot below. I’ve blurred out our actual tasks, but you get the idea (D=just about done, 1-5=priority order, WL=wait listed).

business plan action list example

You can take this action list and create a goal list for each team member involved. Short action lists like this are easy to pin on your wall so you are reminded of your key points of focus throughout the year. Mine hang right next to me and are filled with short notes I scratch in as the year goes by. The best feeling is checking one of those items off the list!

Get in the Zone

When you’re extraordinarily focused for a short period of time, you are in “the zone.”

No Interruption Policy

Getting in the zone at work means no phone calls, no texts, no tweets, no meetings, no dialog with anybody, no checking your friends’ Facebook posts,  no interruptions  – period , except for an occasional sip of Red Bull.

We’ve all been there. You know it works. Getting in the zone empowers you to focus with laser-like accuracy on a specific task, problem or issue that requires your utmost attention. Everything else is tuned out. There is just one mission: get your task done.

It’s hard to get in the zone for long periods at a time. It’s like swimming underwater. You need to come up for air and have a change of pace.

All too often, we never allow ourselves to actually get in the zone. There is always an interruption. We use the interruption as an excuse not to focus. At the end of the day, we haven’t accomplished nearly as much as we could have. It doesn’t have to be like this. You can squeeze out so much more juice out of each day with a small shift in your mindset.

Pretend You’re Going on Vacation

Think about the work day before you leave for an extended vacation. You are so focused on making sure that everything you are working on has either been completed or your colleagues know the next steps to address in your absence. You are able to get in the zone.  You take a shorter lunch break and avoid all distractions so you can wrap up in time and enjoy your vacation. Getting in the zone is forced upon you so you ensure that everything on your “to do” is knocked out.

What if you planned in advance to get in the zone as if you were about to go on vacation the next day? How much more could you accomplish at the office tomorrow if your mind was dead set on completing a series of tasks that are important. Tune out the noise, the “triviata.” Only hone in on your mission and make it happen.

This magical day of accomplishment usually won’t happen by itself. You need to mark it on yourcalendar. I often take an imagination day  just to allow myself to get in the zone about business strategy. Other days, I schedule in 2-3 hour blocks of time when my phone is on do-not-disturb and my door is closed.

I can’t do this all of the time. When I do, this technique of pretending I’m going on vacation and allocating concentrated time to focus gives me a boost of energy followed by a sense of accomplishment.

Tell me about ways you focus to accomplish your tasks and goals.