With 2012 in the rear view mirror, and the 1st quarter of 2013 quickly passing, do you find yourself focusing on the present with no sense of priority for the long-term vision? If so, you are not alone! This is the time of each year where activity seems to move at an accelerated pace and we are playing catch up to stay on top of this year’s demands. My recommendation is to carve out time in the 2nd quarter of your annual business cycle to do your longer term strategic planning. The prior year’s “lessons learned” are still fresh, and current year’s opportunities and risks are materializing. Carve out some quality time to build out a strategy for the next 3-5 years. In 6 months, as the business cycle completes itself, you can use the 1st year of your Strategic Plan as a baseline for the coming year Operating Plan . This planning cycle with help balance the focus on current and future needs and if done properly will lead to a more accurate and productive annual budgeting process.
The attached link to Inc.com provides a good checklist to keep in mind.
It is too easy to lose sight of the long term as you focus on delivering results this week. Here are five steps for turning your vision into action.
1. Assess the Current State
We talked to many people in the organization, gathering facts and opinions about what was working well, what needed fixing, and what was completely broken. We placed every part of the business on a spectrum of “Working,” “Bent,” or “Broken.”
2. Align on Financial Goals
3. Align On a Compelling Vision
Even when people are challenged to meet quarterly numbers, we find that they want to understand and rally behind a long-term vision.
4. Develop Long-term Priorities and Initiatives
The organization had 30 or so initiatives already underway that were heading in various directions. We took the ones that were completely consistent with the vision and incorporated them into a coherent, prioritized set of initiatives. The others we cut off because we did not want the organization pulled in competing directions or dissipating their energy on low-priority activities.
5. Build Confidence Through Near-term Execution
Remember to keep it at a high level. Challenge yourself to keep the strategic plan on a single page! It is important to keep in mind that it is better to get 10 things done right than to get 20 things done ½ right.
At B2B CFO®, we assist small to mid-sized companies navigated through the challenges to improve planning and cash management to avoid the Danger Zone.