Strategic Planning for Small Businesses– Why do most small businesses that start a business plan neither finish nor implement it?
A couple of the clients I am currently working with continue to drag their feet on finishing the Strategic Business Plan that we started. Recently I have been racking my brain trying to figure out why. In our weekly meetings we talk about goals, personnel issues, accountability, systems and other topics that can easily be defined in their business plan. However we often go over the same issues over and over without any action to address them.
Well, I believe if the truth were told, the real reason they will not finish a Strategic Business Plan is the fear of commitment to themselves and their team. Creating a business plan and communicating its strategy with your team is the same as making a contract with yourself and that team. You have laid out your plan for the future of your business and committed to set of goals to ensure your plan is carried forward. Your job as the leader is to work with your team to ensure those goals are met, holding everyone, including yourself, accountable for doing what you say you are going to do. That’s a commitment.
The first fear I observe is the fear of making a decision. As a business owner if you are one that holds back on decision making, prefer to keep all options open rather than move in one direction, or do not involve others in your decision making this can create a real problem in your business. This fear can come from the fear of being wrong, having to manage the process to ensure a positive outcome, being able to communicate what you want done so that the team member responsible for its execution knows what to do, or not being able to change your mind at the spur of the moment. . One of the greatest benefits of strategic planning, for any size business, is that it creates a set of goals and objectives that lead to decisive action and decision-making.
Your team thrives on consistency; they prefer to work in a stable environment where they know what is expected of them. An environment where they receive consistent feedback on how they are doing. They know when a decision is made all stakeholders are working towards a positive result rather than an environment that is constantly changing direction and yesterdays decision is soon forgotten or another decision is quickly made changing the entire direction of the company.
The other major fear holding many business owners back is the fear of accountability. In many cases being a small business owner means being accountable to themselves, which means no one. With strategic planning there is accountability built into the plan, which can cause fear and distress. Accountability leads to action and with action come success and failure. If your strategic plan is well thought out and involves the input of others it will lead to many more successes than failures.
Change is hard, and overcoming our fears to allow us to make those changes is even harder. Overcoming these fears often include facing your own shortcomings, which as a small business owner can be very uncomfortable. However in order for your business to move forward with greater sales, profitability, and efficiency you must take those steps to overcome your fears in order to change the way you lead and manage your business. Using the skills of a professional facilitator and/or business coach can make this whole process less intimidating. A good business coach can effectively keep the conversation aimed towards positive outcomes and not let the weaknesses get in the way of success. They will also keep the process moving forward so completing the project will be done in a much shorter amount of time not allowing the day to day distractions of the business to derail its completion.
Strategic Planning is one of the best investments you can make in yourself and your business. In small business the cost of failure is high and the personal risks are great, your livelihood is at stake. A well thought out strategic plan will help you realize your dreams and overcome the obstacles that get in the way of moving your business forward. On the other hand I firmly believe that most businesses will ultimately fail to reach their full potential, or worse, without a strategic business plan.
If you’re ready to implement positive changes in the your business we are ready to help you succeed. Call me at 406-690-5988 for a no obligation meeting to see if Beartooth Business Consulting can help you and your business.