Business Planning

First, good news/bad news:  Today the National Bureau for Economic Research officially declared that the “Great Recession” (the longest recession since the Great Depression”) ended in June 2009.  If everyone wants to go  out and spend again like it is 2007 again that would be fine with me!  The bad news:  The last double dip recession was in 80-82.  In July of 1981 they declared the official end to the 1980 depression as July of 1980.  July of 81 turned out to be the month that the second dip officially started.   The uncertainty is certainly wearing on us all, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

Fall is the time to start planning for next year.  This quarter my HTG peer group decided we all would take on the task of creating a brand new business plan from scratch, using the methodology of Verne Harnish, the “Growth Guru” and noted author of “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits”.

When our group chose this task, I think i groaned out load.  For one thing, this type of introspection and planning is just not my cup of tea.   For another, like many of you, my time in 2010 has been spent working “in” the business rather than working on the business, doing my best to keep sales going during these tough times.  The last thing I need to do is take time away from sales for strategic planning, I thought.  I’m glad to say that I was wrong.  I put off my homework for step one until 9 pm the night before it was due.  Once I started the exercise, I actually found new energy.  It was refreshing to take a step back and look at things from a new vantage point.   I enjoyed the process and woke up the next morning excited for our group conference call.  If you’ve been stuck in a rut this year, make some time to stop and put your business owner’s hat on!

Our first step in this process is to define your core values and beliefs.  This is the way you see the world; the guiding principles that determine how you run your business and make decisions.  While your “vision” for the company may change over time, and certainly your mix of services provided will change as you adjust to your market, your core values NEVER change.  They are part of your core makeup and keep you on track.  I’ll list my core beliefs below.

Next is to define your company vision.  Most companies already have a vision statement, and if you don’t you should.  Your vision is the picture of what you imagine your life and business to be when things are exactly the way you want them.  Your vision should inspire your employees to execute this blueprint every day.

The last task in our first step is creation of a BHAG.  This is a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that looks down the road 10-30 years.  This BHAG connects your core values and gives you a target that will be hard to achieve.  Some examples of successful BHAGS:  In the 1960s, Nike’s BHAG was “crush Adidas”.  In the 1950’s, Sony’s BHAG was “Our name will be as well-known as any in the world, will signify innovation and quality, and ‘Made in Japan’ will mean something fine, not something shoddy”.

I’m still tweaking our vision and BHAG, and will share those later.  Here are our core values & beliefs at Network Innovations:

Innovation – we know there is always a better way to do something and are determined to find it

Passion – we believe in ourselves, we take pride in our work, we care about our clients, and we LOVE what we do

Integrity – we are honest and fair in all that we do

Teamwork – we are fair and expend all efforts to help our peers, our clients and our community

Service – we execute each day by putting others first

Amy and I are busy putting the finishes touches on our Walk for Food Allergy which is this Saturday at 9 am in Shawnee.  For more info, click here:   Nate’s walk page.

For more of my rambling thoughts, check out my blog.