As business owners, we sometimes feel that we have a pretty clear vision of where we want to take our respective businesses. Unfortunately, for the most part, it is usually all in our heads. We attempt to communicate it to our employees, and actually feel for the most part, that we have done a pretty good job with it. In truth, many times that is simply not the case. Sometimes our vision can change, depending on the many things we find that are going on in our business; things like increasing or decreasing revenues, gross margins and net profits.
There are a number of other elements which we must consider, beyond just our vision, that actually help form the “business roadmap”. Many times we ask our clients to share their “business road map” otherwise known as their business plan or strategic plan, with us. What we find for the most part, is if there is actually a written document, it was created for the express purpose of sharing with a financial institution in order to obtain a line of credit, equipment or SBA loan. When the client pulls it out of the drawer, or takes it off the shelf, they have to blow the dust off of it. This is a very good indicator that the last time it was looked at or used was soon after initial preparation.
Whether you call it a business plan or a strategic plan doesn’t make much difference. What does matter is how you put it together and how you utilize and update it. Though most of the ones we review are very professionally prepared documents, with very good charts, graphs, demographics, competitive and market share analyses, they lack any of the other necessary components to make them function as a “living, breathing tool for use in our business”.
What the roadmap must do, in addition to conveying ownerships “vision”, is that it must also covey “focus and direction”. It must describe precisely how we are going to achieve our vision, and on what timeline and at what margins and net profitability.
Probably the simplest analogy might be to imagine that we were going to take a trip. Would we just go get in the car and start driving, without first deciding on a destination? Oddly enough, that is really the way many business operate today. If you fail to pick a destination, you can actually wind up anywhere.
Having the “Vision, Focus and Direction” in writing can provide many benefits for the business owner. It can be updated and revised as market conditions or other situations change. It can also be shared with the core management team and help make certain that your entire team is singularly focused and that everyone on the team is pulling in the same direction.
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At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: