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OK, so you know you want to use a process to plan what you’ll set a goal to do.   Here’s the process!

D = Diagnosis
Here you assess where your business IS NOW.  A journey starts with a single step and that step has to start somewhere.

O = Objective/s
Your Diagnosis will reveal things that need your attention.  Typically these are things that are keeping your business from becoming what you want it to be — your vision for it, if you will.

M = Methods
These are the means for achieving your goals.  This always requires actions.  And, when you create a group of actions designed to achieve a goal, you have an Action Plan.

E = Evaluation
As you implement your plan, you’ll want to periodically check your progress.  And, if your reality isn’t what you planned, you can make adjustments to put things ‘back on track’.  Little by little, step by step . . . that’s how you create success!

KEY POINT:
Plan to be successful . . . and use D O M E to plan effectively

You know, deep down, that when you plan to make something happen it’s more likely to happen than if you don’t plan.

Planning Isn’t Goal-Setting
But often people confuse setting goals with planning.  They are not the same thing.

Planning is a Process, Not a Practice
Don’t misunderstand, setting goals is a key part of planning.  But planning is different.  It’s bigger.  It’s a process, not a practice.  If you confuse goal-setting with planning, you risk being ‘busy’ rather than ‘productive’.  Here’s why.  Planning helps you identify what you want to set a goal to do.  If you don’t do the planning first, you may have a goal.  But it may not make you more productive.  Busy?  Oh yes.  But productive?  Maybe.

KEY POINT:
A Planning Process helps you find Goals worth achieving!

Yesterday we learned that you use goals to address factors that are limiting your growth. Let’s say you have a great product but no distribution system, you want to build a distribution system more than you want to improve your product.  (OK, you want to do that but think in terms of priorities!).

Enable Your Existing Strengths
A candid and thorough assessment of your current business operation will reveal a number of strengths you possess that can help you attract, serve and retain business with ideal clients for your business. Once you know what can help you do that, then  . . .

Set Goals To Reduce Limitations
You want to set goals to eliminate any factors that restrict your ability to use your existing strengths to attract, serve and retain ideal clients for your business.  As you saw yesterday, not having a way to generate sales (limitation) of your great product (strength) deserves a goal to change that situation — ASAP.

KEY POINT:
Reducing limitations enables strengths and supports growth

Growing your business, and the revenues that suggests, begins with a clear assessment of your business as it is . . . NOW.

Goal-Setting is NOT The Same as Planning
A common mistake we see as business consultants is that clients confuse planning with goal-setting.  They are not the same.  Anyone can set a goal. And achieving it may or may not help you grow your business.  Only the goals that make your existing strengths more available to you are likely to generate growth.

Planning . . . Makes Your Goals Meaningful
While you can set a goal to do anything, you want to be aware of the risk of being busy at the expense of being productive. What makes you productive?  Achieving goals that remove ‘roadblocks’ on your pathway to being a more efficient and effective company.

For example . . . let’s say you have a product or service you offer.  It’s truly fantastic.  Competitors fear you!  That’s a strength.  But, your only salesperson just took a position in Atlanta.  What do you do, now?  Set a goal to improve your great service?  NO!  You set a goal to get a new salesperson, right?

KEY POINT:
Removing Roadblocks . . . Enable Strengths!

To some, “PLAN” is a four-letter word.  That’s unfortunate.  To paraphrase a popular bumper-sticker, “If you think it’s tough to build a business with a plan, just try doing it without one!”.

As a consultant at LIMRA International, I facilitated a business planning process that enabled companies to seriously outperform their peers and competitors.  SERIOUSLY OUTPERFORM!

As the financial services’ trade association, we knew what every peer company was doing.

So it should be of interest to you to know that of nearly 60 companies using this planning process, when we pulled 5 firms at random and compared their growth against the growth rate of their own peers, the WORST performer was doing about 240% BETTER than their peers.  The BEST performer was doing almost 1,500% BETTER than its peers.  Today, it’s called The Profit Project™:

HOW did we do this?  Good question.  Look for more specific details in the coming days.

KEY POINT:
Planning is a critical factor in your business’ growth

Today was a noisy day in our home.  Hardwood floors in our living and dining room had to be replaced because of a hard winter and our first experience (not pleasant!) with ice-damming.

The man who installed our new floor was a true artist.  What I found most impressive was how he laid out the floor almost completely before beginning to actually install and nail the boards together. “It makes it go faster and better when you know what you are going to do BEFORE you do it”.

Laying Floors and Marketing Planning
There’s a lot they have in common.  Thinking about your mission and market, your messages, your media, your methods and how you manage your business operation (yes, a key part of marketing!) is similar to laying out a floor — both go ‘faster and better’ when you plan them before you do them.

KEY POINT:
Marketing is a process that is best done in a planned and step-by-step manner.

Goals are important.  They focus your attention and energies on factors that, if not addressed, could limit your effectiveness, efficiency and results.

But there’s a GAP between where you are now and where you want to be in the future.  And, while it does take ACTION to achieve your GOALS, it helps if you have a PLAN to do that.  Planning helps you take consistent, coordinated, aligned and effective ACTIONS to reach your GOALS.

Planning is not ‘setting goals’.  That’s just one step in a PROCESS of planning to make things happen.  The acronym “D O M E” explains the process of planning:

Diagnosis . . . assess where you’re starting from today . . . ARE NOW
Objective . . . after you know where you are, where do you want . . . TO BE
Method/s . . . now you have defined a GAP . . . how will you close it?   MEANS
Evaluation . . . once you begin to implement, what will you look at and how often to measure . . . PROGRESS?

KEY POINT:
Setting and reaching your Goals is important; Planning to do so is . . . ‘priceless’