Strategic Planning

By Tim Connor, Rodeo! Performance Group, Inc.

When you develop a Business Strategy or Business Plan, one of the first activities you should carry out is an assessment of what’s going on outside your business. If you do it right, it will make the internal planning for your business much easier and immensely more effective.

When my two oldest boys were small, one of their favorite games was What’s Down There? One of them would crawl into my bed first thing in the morning, and ask: “Dad, what’s down there?”. I would look at the floor over the edge of the bed and nonchalantly say something like “Oh nothing, except for the hundreds of black widow spiders (or alligators, or writhing snakes…), then I would slowly push the kid toward the edge of the bed. I could always gauge the enthusiasm of his response by the gruesomeness of the particular horror dwelling on the floor. My younger son (who still has a vivid imagination) would fight with considerable vigor, often producing uproarious laughter from the other family members who happened to be watching. His response was directly related to his knowledge of what was down there.

The same principle holds true for business. If you want your business plans to be effective, you have to start with good knowledge of “what’s out there”. That means taking the time to evaluate important external factors, things like current economic climate, the global competition, other local competitors, and what customers are buying. Doing a good job at this assessment will produce con-side ably more precision in the goals for your own business. Indeed, good investigation will frequently add the quality of speed to your goals – knowing which things should be accomplished now and which can wait until later in the year.

To move into world class using your external analysis, however, you have to communicate the importance of those externally focused goals. When your staff know which goals are really significant, and see regular reports on progress toward those significant goals, a sense of vibrancy will arise in your business, and you will see all sorts of good activity that was never there before. It’s worth the effort – give it a try!