Many entrepreneurs envision business planning as a lengthy process that consumes too many hours and resources. Planning doesn’t need to be a marathon, though. It can be done equally effectively in short bursts throughout the year.
Here are some tips on engaging in a process I call micro business planning.
- Look at 30- to 90-day time frames. Too many strategic plans fill several three-ring binders and sit on a shelf for 10 or 11 months out of the year. Meanwhile, business dynamics change at an ever-increasing rate to match consumer demand for the next best thing. Shorter planning horizons enable the company to become more flexible and responsive to the environment.
- Involve anyone in the company who touches a stakeholder. Critical issues that affect company well-being are often neglected because management doesn’t experience them on a regular basis. But many frontline people do. Getting feedback and input from this group of employees is a valuable addition to management insight.
- Formalize inputs. Assign employees into workgroups to address specific business issues. Have them meet on their own and then report to the larger group with recommendations for action. Capturing this information flow is critical to realize a valid micro planning outcome.
- Prioritize strategies and tactics to match company goals and objectives. Identify initiatives that will have the greatest impact for the least amount of time and money expended. Try to structure initiatives that can be accomplished in defined blocks of time — like weekly or monthly. That way, each month’s micro planning session also will serve as a check and balance against defined schedules and provide accountability for follow-up.
- Remain persistent. Dynamic small business activity demands that companies constantly respond to market forces and consumer and client tastes and desires. A continued series of company baby steps associated with micro planning offers an effective mechanism to stay a step ahead of customers and competitors. And that’s a recipe for success.
Micro-planning can be an effective tool to keep your company on track while continually monitoring your business environment. Segmenting planning horizons into smaller, more manageable blocks of time will prevent you or the company from facing surprises that can overtake any company throughout the year. This approach can also work in the public sector.
Here at the SBA regional public affairs office, we embrace micro planning to increase public awareness of our programs. We recently completed a three-month media outreach campaign focused on the services of SCORE and its mentoring services for small businesses. Because of the 90-day time frame, we were better able to focus on such targeted public outreach activities as press interviews, public speeches and social media engagement.