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Plan your way out of uncertainty
by Jason French

Frustrating right?  How on earth have we as a country gotten ourselves into this current pickle?  It seemed like a simple enough thing to do! Have a vote, make a decision, carry out the decision!  But no!  Politicians got involved, special interest groups got involved, we got involved (again), and now the only certain thing about the Brexit outcome will be that nobody but NOBODY will like it.

So what?  What does this mean for us.  Well in my simple mind there is one thing that remains clear.  We as business owners must take personal control of our destinies and there is only one way to do that.  We must clarify in our heads what success looks like to us.  We must imagine exactly what our companies look like at the end – and what they are delivering to us personally.  What do we value?  What do we do for the world? Why do we exist?

We can then think about the way there.  So many roads to our own personal version of glory – which to take?  Each goes across a changeable landscape of social and technological change.  They are battered and distorted by economic and political influences.  Some roads are already being travelled and will come to an end soon.  Some are potential ways of the future, but are not yet accessible.  We must choose which will take us to our Nirvana!

With the ways forward identified, we can re-look at everything about our market.  Our competitors as well as our customers. Who are we selling to and are they the right ones for our chosen path?  Are our products and services meeting the needs of our chosen customers?  Our suppliers – are they the right size, shape and cost?  Are they able to scale or change at the same pace as us? Finally, who will help us on our journey – what strategic partnerships must we nurture or create?

Exciting right?  There is nothing more invigorating than finally deciding exactly what you want to do and how you’re going to go about it.  However, it is now time to turn the mirror on yourself.  Are you in the right shape to travel the roads that you have identified?  Are you structured correctly?  Does everyone know and understand the plan and their part in it?  Have you the correct finances in place? What changes need to happen and when should they happen?  What are you great at and how can you protect it?  What needs to improve and how can you do it with the minimum disruption and expense?  Where are you vulnerable and how can you minimise risk?  Where do you have an edge, and where can you enhance it or create another?

You will slowly begin to feel that the ultimate vision you have articulated is now becoming connected with the reality of what you are doing now.  As the practicalities of the plan become clearer, some intermediate steps emerge, phases or conditions that must happen before the next step is taken.  These are goals.  Not the airy-fairy things that people pull out of the air because they are told to have ‘goals’.  These are practical no-nonsense steps and requirements that are obvious and easily communicated.  It is against these that you will measure your performance.  Now add them to a challenging timeline – now that’s a plan!

“Sounds great!” I hear you say, “but, to be blunt, show me the money!”  No plan is worth anything unless it is backed and driven by a comprehensive sales plan.  This is a plan dictating how much of what is being sold to whom for how much.  It shows how often and at what cost.  You will have heard all sorts of business gurus telling you to ‘know your numbers’ – well this is it!  This is where you rip control of events out of the hands of Brexit and start to drive your own future.

You are going to need help.  People will drive the company along this road to glory, but they can’t do it if they don’t understand it.  The essence of delegation is ensuring any of your people are confident that they know what you would say in any given scenario.  That is, they understand your ultimate vision.  This is not just people on your PAYE, but everyone that you have dealings with!  Your accountant, your web designer, your lawyer, your cat……. you get the point!  This is also the time to identify those that are not right to travel on this journey with you.  It is the time to get the wrong people off the bus and the right people on to it!  This is never an easy thing to do but it is sight better when the plan is clear!

Finally, you will have to find a way of keeping yourself honest.  How are you going to measure yourself and your people to ensure that things will unfold as planned?  No matter how outstandingly well planned your journey is, it has to be driven hard and steered exactly.  This is hard!  It will take effort – and help!  Don’t underestimate the challenge at the beginning.  It will get easier as you develop good habits and your team adopt them – but it will be tough at first.  Find someone that you trust to keep you honest.  As things improve, the benefits become obvious, but there is a bit of faith and determination that must drive you in the early stages.

Good luck and happy planning!

If you need help with planning for uncertainty – feel free to book a free health check with me.

 

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