I’ve refrained from mentioning the B word in my posts. Like many of you I’m heartily sick of the dreaded ‘Brexit’ word. It’s not that I’ve been burying my head in the sand or anything, just rather like many people I’ve not felt qualified to give advice. But there is one thing I would recommend, and that is to plan.
Not knowing which way we’re going to go, let alone what’s going to happen then, can perhaps make people think what’s the point of planning when your crystal ball has totally clouded over.
Any time you work on a business plan you are faced with two things.
Now at anytime those ‘unknowables’ take an amount of guesswork based on things like the starting point of your business, the economy, strength of the pound, forecasts etc. So you plan using what you know and your best guesswork based on your current knowledge.
With Brexit/no Brexit looming those ‘unknowables’ are worse than usual since they can be a totally different set of unknowables depending on a hard Brexit or even no Brexit at all! Suddenly your best guesswork is built on very little knowledge and two possible outcomes at extremes of each other.
I usually say that planning is fun but I imagine planning for many businesses at the moment is a nightmare. So many factors are outside individual businesses’ control it can feel like you’re going to hit sheet ice and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.
But I still believe in planning. Plan based on what you know and then plan based on what you can imagine. Planning in the current climate is going to need some creativity. Brainstorming how a hard Brexit or no Brexit might affect your business; get your team, your suppliers, your Customers involved, perhaps a third party unconnected with you who can add a ‘naive’ or independent view.
This is about planning for the worst case scenario but it can also be about recognising opportunities for example the effects of a weakened pound on exports, tourism, staycations etc.
McDonald’s taught me a lot about the importance of planning, and how to be smart about it. I learned that planning is a team sport; most effective when it involves the people it affects as well as those who will deliver on it. Add someone with no bias or axe to grind into the mix, and you will develop a truly effective plan.
I learned that you listen to those with the skills and experience, but you also consider the new and the different; that it’s ok to re-visit what might once have been considered crazy or just plain wrong for the business, as things change, and the ‘right time’ comes along.
I learned that you have a system for planning that makes it routine, regular, consistent; that keeps you focused on the end goal, even when you need to adapt, or change your route.
A plan for me isn’t something to be made then stuck in a drawer it needs to be dynamic; reviewed and adapted to changing circumstances. And 2019 may prove the most fluid yet.
Do one thing: Review your business plans. Do they include worst case scenarios or potential opportunities?
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Imagine you have a boat. It’s the start of a new year and you’ve just set sail, headed out to sea - full of optimism and excitement. Captain of your destiny. Owner of your fate.
But where are you headed? Wherever the current takes you? Slave to the tide and the prevailing wind? Or have you plotted a course to take you to your dream destination?
Now imagine that boat is your business.
Business navigation is no easier than navigating the ocean, but just like sailing the high seas, you’ll always be better off with robust preparation and planning, so give some thought to the following:
What’s the name of your boat?
This will say a lot about how you see yourself right now.
If you had to name it today what would it be: ‘Victory’, Endurance’?
Or might it be ‘All at Sea’?
Have you set your course?
What are your goals and milestones for 2019; for the next 90 days?
And what about practical action plans to achieve them?
How will you recognise that storms are coming before they hit?
What have you put in place to pick up on problems - to anticipate and overcome them?
How will you fill the gaps in your knowledge and experience?
Who or what are your anchors that will keep you from going under?
These are often the people who keep you grounded, keep you going, maybe develop and inspire you. A family member or a trusted mentor.
Perhaps they are words from a loved one that you carry with you.
Or perhaps it’s a faith, a belief in something greater than yourself.
How have you selected your crew?
Did you recruit to your values and passion? And how have you developed their skills to help them fulfill their promise? Can they take over happily if you get seasick or need to sleep?
What are the Values, the compass points that will keep you on a true course?
Those things that make you and your business tick, that show the world what you stand for. That you hold true too, day in and day out.
Do one thing: Think about where you're headed in 2019, and ask these questions to check that you’re prepared for whatever comes - good or otherwise.
Wishing you a safe and splendid passage through the year.
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It’s the start of another new year, and for me, after the roller coaster ride that was 2013, it’s the most exciting that I can remember! There’s so much to get done, so many new people to work and meet with, so much fun to have doing what I love...I hope it’s the same for you.
I love planning for a new year...twelve whole months stretching out ahead, full of opportunity and possibility. Developing a plan that is fully focused on the big game...the important stuff...the things that are going to move me and my business forward and build my personal and professional relationships.
Planning is crucial if you want to achieve...if you want to deliver measurable results. Yet so many of us head into a new year armed with only a broad set of goals and a jumbled list of tasks, and end up wasting time on irrelevant social media conversations and unfocused meetings and activities. Before we know it, we’re into March, and we’ve lost nearly a quarter of the year without achieving anything meaningful.
Getting your plan right starts with the big question: What am I trying to achieve...and why? and builds from there...goals, objectives, targets, deadlines, milestones, measures of success…are all essential elements in a robust plan.
After that, it’s down to your personal strategy for time management and personal effectiveness...your daily disciplines that are going to keep you focused on what you’re trying to achieve and why - those crucial first 90 minutes focused on business-building activity; the calls and meetings all scheduled...all with end times; the disciplined use of social media. Every one of us needs a system that works for us...one that we can be committed to...one that ensures that we feel good when we look back at the day.
I also believe that we need a keynote for our year...you might call it a motto, or maybe a rallying cry. For me this year, I’m going with something I picked up from the new Walter Mitty film...a line that really resonated with me. I’m going to live this year by the ABCs and be Adventurous, Brave, and Creative.
How about you? ;)
PS If you would like help in developing your planning system, or managing your time and personal effectiveness, please do get in touch at email@example.com. We will be running an online Masterclass on Time Management & Personal Effectiveness later this month.
Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)