Is your strategic business plan so thick that it is not read or useful? Or does it seem too daunting to even create one?
The old three-inch three-ring binder plans of the past are dead. Learn how to quickly create effective 3-page living business plans.
The old bulky business plans took an entire staff to prepare them, filled binders and were for top management only. In fact, they were often labeled, “Secret.”
As the pace of business has accelerated, thick plans are often outdated before completed, let alone read and acted upon. Now, with transparent organizations, high-speed communications and shared information, plans are more freely communicated.
But, how do we communicate 100-plus page plans? We don’t.
Make It simple and short
An effective plan of 2-3 pages begins with a short outline that covers all the essentials of a workable plan – a plan that can be easily communicated and updated. Thesesections are written with succinct sentences and brief bullets.
Pages 1 and 2:
The 3-5 most important capabilities, assets, resources and successes your company has to offer its customers and other stakeholders.
In three sentences, how the company will look in one, two and three years to the outside world and internally. What benefit will the organization provide to customers and other stakeholders?
In three sentences, what the business does, why and for whom.
The top three essential beliefs, attitudes and behaviors by which the organization conducts itself, internally and externally.
The five to seven highest priority goals that, when achieved, will advance the company to its next level of sustainable success.
In one sentence, the overall direction of the business that guides decisions in allocating resources to best achieve the goals.
Five to seven key measurable actions by function (e.g., technology, marketing, sales, customer support, production, others) to achieve the goals – what to do, why, by when, and by whom.
The top three risks that could negatively impact the implementation of the plan, and how can these risks be avoided and remediated.
Build a short and simple 1-page spreadsheet with financial assumptions and projections – such as number of customers, units sold, pricing, income statement, cash flow, balance sheet and capital needs.
Small size fits all
This simple plan has been used by small and medium size businesses. Nonprofits, which are non-taxed businesses, can benefit from a flexible 3-page plan, too. Some individuals use this format for their one-person businesses as well. If needed, any section of these plans can be separately expanded and detailed as appropriate.
Our business world rolls fast and so should you.
The bottom line
Plan ahead. Take a day or less with your team to build a 3-page strategic business plan that works. Communicate it frequently to your employees and others who can help your business. Review and update it monthly as a living guide for sustainable success.