By Julian Campbell – Leadership Coach

If you haven't already done so, its time to consider planning your business growth. We have often linked building a successful business to setting sail to search for Hidden Treasure. You would not think of launching your ship, putting the lives of your crew and yourself at risk, or risking your costly ship and supplies, if you did not have a map; some idea of where you were going or how you would benefit. Yet, that is exactly the way most businesses operate. The Business Plan is your treasure map to success, but only about 10% of businesses have one. Do You!

In building your map, the first important point you need to know is “where is the treasure island and how much treasure is hidden there?” With your business you must decide on your vision, your mission statement, your business goals and identify the size and nature of your market. What changes are taking place in your market?  How will they affect You?

To minimise the risk and reap the rewards, will require a significant amount of research to determine, who buys, how many buy, why they buy and how much they spend. Few business operators spend that essential planning time and consequently risk so much.

A considerable amount of information exists everywhere. The difficult task is to track it down, isolate what is relevant for you and collate it into a useful form. Your past records are a good starting point. Then there is the library where a lot of  statistics can be found. Other sources include the Yellow Pages, newspapers, trade journals, government departments, the internet of course and even your competitors.

When you have the treasure island clearly identified, where it is and how big the treasure is, you have a focus. Now you can decide the best way of getting there. It will be important to identify likely obstacles you might meet along the way. In the case of your treasure map you need to know where the hidden rocks are, the location of other islands, the water currents and the wind behaviour. Also, you need to know the existence of other dangers such as pirates, sharks, or cannibals on the island. In other words, what are the possibilities of getting there and back alive with the treasure?

In business the story is no different, the market place is filled with obstacles and threats which could prevent you from being successful. Who is the competition, how will they react? They certainly won't make it an easy ride. Then there are the market influences, those trade winds to blow you of course and prevent you reaching your destination. All these potential elements must be considered in your marketing strategy.

So now you have your future map for the new millennium that shows you where you are now, where you are going how you are going to get there and the results you hope to achieve. Now you must use it! The Business Plan, like the map, is a tool, a reference document to be continually monitored and changed when you discover errors.

Happy digging in the coming year!

Better Business from Julian Campbell

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