If You Have No Plan, Then Your Plan is to Fail
Create your 2023 Strategic Plan NOW!
By Paul Wirth
2023 has begun, and if you haven’t created a strategic plan, now is the time! Don’t waste another second — your competition may already be planning your demise. I write this “tongue in cheek,” but there is a lot of truth to the fact that your competition is devising ways to gain market share and crush 2023. Shouldn’t you?
As a business advisor, I work with a number of clients in the insurance space on strategic planning. I help get the right people in the right seats, develop quarterly and annual objectives with key results, and work with business owners to plan for their eventual exit. Whether they decide to sell their practice or pass their practice to the next generation, I have found that those brokers who take the time to work on their business as opposed to in their business consistently outpace their competition. Specifically, they wisely streamline their sales and operations so that they have more time to focus on the big initiatives that catapult their organizations to next levels.
I know that this can sound like a lot of work for a broker focused on lead development and keeping their current customers happy. But, if you adopt a proven planning system that guides you through the steps to develop your company’s unique strategic plan, it won’t have to be all that time consuming or difficult.
The good news is there are a number of quality systems in the market with highly skilled implementers who can help you on your journey. Some may be simple enough for you to do the work on your own.
However, my experience with self-implementers is they often and easily lose focus when the whirlwind of their business hits them in the face when they enter their offices on Monday mornings. So, while you can certainly buy the books and follow the plans outlined in them, it is often less time consuming and ultimately much more financially rewarding to hire a professional advisor with a track record of helping companies like yours to achieve desired goals.
Here’s my recommendation: The Blueprint Organizer(SM) This is an example of a planning system I use for clients that can help you start this journey on your own.
Let’s explore its use, and how it can help you structure your business going forward.
First, there is no rocket science involved in the organizer. All of the 9-key questions that guide users appear straight-forward. The key is to develop a unique strategic plan that will attract and motivate you and your team. I’d like for you to also view the process of developing your plan from the objective eyes of a board of director looking into your business — or better yet as a potential buyer of your practice, interested in knowing they can run with your plan the day you hand your keys over.
That said, if you choose to go through this exercise, it’s important to complete it away from your office or home. Go somewhere quiet, but inspiring. Maybe even travel somewhere conducive to clear your mind and really contemplate what you want out of your business. To create a quality strategic plan, remove yourself from your day-to-day and put some really deep thought into the exercise.
Here are the nine The Blueprint Organizer (SM) questions to structure the process.
- What are your core values? To make your values have real meaning they should percolate up from your team based on the favorable characteristics you witness them doing on their own. Avoid using what Pat Lencioni calls, in his article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Make Your Values Mean Something” such as:
- permission-to-play values simply reflect the minimum behavioral and social standards required of any employee. They tend not to vary much across companies, particularly those working in the same region or industry, which means that, by definition, they never really help distinguish a company from its competitors.
- accidental values which arise spontaneously without being cultivated by leadership and take hold over time. They usually reflect the common interests or personalities of the organization’s employees. Accidental values can be good for a company, such as when they create an atmosphere of inclusivity. But they can also be negative forces, foreclosing new opportunities. Managers always need to distinguish core values from merely accidental ones, as confusion here can be disastrous.
- aspirational values are those that your company needs to succeed but currently lack. A company may need to develop a new value to support a new strategy, for example, or to meet the requirements of a changing market or industry. The CEO who claimed his company’s core value was a sense of urgency, for instance, was substituting an aspirational value for a core one.
- What is your core purpose? This gets to your why – why did you go into business in the first place? What gets you and your team that infectious enthusiasm for the work you do.
- What is your core target? Or as Jim Collins calls it your BHAG – big hairy audacious goal. I like to refer to your core target as your North Star. You point to your North Star when motivating yourself and your team as to where you are heading.
- What is your target market? Identify your ideal client. What is their demographic, geographic, psychographic and firmographic profile? This isn’t all of your clients — just the ones you would love to do more business with.
- What is your 3-year plan? Be as clear and specific as possible. Map out what your revenue will be three short years from now. How many employees will you have? What is the one-key measurable you can gauge success on? Also, make this a visual exercise for yourself and your team by writing down what your company will look like down the road. The more you can all see what the future looks like, the more likely you are to achieve it.
- What is your 1-year plan? Much like your 3-year plan, your 1-year plan will show your revenue, profits, employee count, and measurable. But added to this would be three to five key priorities or goals.
- What are your quarterly objectives and key results (OKRs)? Similar to your 1-year plan, your quarterly OKRs continue to bring down to the ground what you want to accomplish in the next 90-days.
- What are your long-term issues and opportunities? List out what challenges you face in the coming year that require your attention — just not immediate attention. The same applies for opportunities. Maybe you want to offer a new product or service, but do not currently have the resources to do so.
- Lastly, what are your milestones? As you would map out your vacation with stops along the way, you should do the same for your business. How else will you know if you are on the right track to accomplishing your long-term goals?
These are the nine foundational questions used to build an entrepreneurial version of a strategic plan — one every team member can embrace. It will help you all be on the same page with where you are going and how you plan to get there.
Reach out to me if you would like a copy of The Blueprint Organizer (SM)
Paul Wirth’s 35 years of experience took him from executive national leadership roles in finance, banking and homebuilding start-ups and Fortune 500 companies, to three different companies of his own. During his corporate journey, Paul was responsible for budgets up to $25 billion, overseeing sales and operations with hundreds of employees in 18 markets across the nation. As an entrepreneur, Paul took that experience to grow three successful businesses of his own.
Paul is a lifelong student who completed various training and certifications as a Vistage Chair, Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA), Talent Optimization Advisor, and EOS® Implementer. He served on a number of boards for the Builders Industry Association, Council on Aging, and the Exit Planning Institute. Paul combines decades of corporate and entrepreneurial experience in his practice at Blueprint for Entrepreneurial Growth to assist family-owned and private businesses to grow and exit through intergenerational transfers and sale. Paul works with leadership teams to establish solid foundations for growth and then directly with business owners to help them increase the value of their companies for a successful transition.