Updated September 2023
Things move pretty fast around here. Like when you’re in line at Disneyland for your kiddo’s 6th birthday* and you get an alert that not only is the delta variant extra contagious but your vaccinated self can give it to your unvaccinated kid.
It’s enough to make you throw up your hands and ask, why plan? I considered running to the nearest gift shop and screaming into an Elsa and Anna princess pillow.
But in a short trek around Tarzan’s Treehouse, I was able to take a breath and think through the new information within my personal risk framework. Back in line, with a mask and a follow-up PCR test.
In the time of COVID, the standards have been uncertain and ever-changing information. If you’ve been trying to grow or sustain a business, maybe you’ve done some screaming at Elsa and Anna, too.
It’s been hard at times to feel hopeful or like we can count on things.
Planning and setting goals are hopeful acts. They bring intention and direction to each day. And when opportunities arise or circumstances change — like my sharp inflection point at Disneyland — they help us act quickly and decisively.
5 Questions to Guide Your Business Planning Process
As a business strategy consultant, every plan starts with open questions. Sometimes we get so busy with things like margins and taxes and hiring that we forget to ground ourselves in why we’re doing this and where we want to go.
I’ve come up with five questions to inform your strategic planning process. You don’t need any data or financial reports, or even any pesky judgments. However your answer is right for you, right now.
- Why do I do this work? (Another way to think about this is what purpose do I want to fulfill?)
- What’s my vision for where I want this business to go and how fast do I want to get there?
- How much do I want to pay myself to make this feel worthwhile? (Own it. Write down a number.)
- What revenue goal do I want to hit in 12-18 months? (No judgment. Choose the number of zeros.)
- What are some things in the business I don’t like doing, or that I should stop doing or thinking, that are holding me back?
We can design and run a company in infinite ways. These questions tell us which design is the right one for you. So these answers are your work.
The right plan is the one that aligns to what you want to bring into the world.
Focused Strategic Planning for Your Small Business
You as the founder imprint a lot of yourself into the company. Honor that and be intentional about it. Check in annually on how your focus and outlook have evolved.
We can make plans all day that solve for how. Margins, products, services, and people – it’s a puzzle I love to solve. But first, take the time to get grounded and honest in what YOU want, what you believe, and where you want to go.
Do this core work and you’ll see more clarity and focused action from forecasting or strategic planning, now or in the future. And when you have five minutes to make a big decision in line at Disneyland, you’ll be ready.
* He’s 8 now