Most advisors—and business owners in general—approach business planning and projections for a new year with the same excitement they bring to a dentist visit. It’s rote. It’s routine. They go through the motions and map out what they would like to accomplish, and then they file-away their plan in a bottom drawer that doesn’t open again until this time next year.
To achieve the next big evolution in your business, to break into an entirely new level of business success, you need to a business plan that deliberately forces you outside of what you have always done. From the outside, your plan might look a bit crazy, but you should have the key insights to know that your new path is worth pursuing.
You’ve likely met advisors with this approach to business (they are typically the ones on stage rather than in the audience), but let’s step outside of our space so that we can take a fresh look at the business planning concepts that can make 2018 a gamechanger for you.
Jim Koch, the brewer and founder of Samuel Adams, entered the beer industry at a time when American Beer was dull, boring, and underestimated. Long before craft breweries transformed the beer scene in the United States, Koch had a family recipe and a vision for how his industry could be different. The greatest minds in brewing saw the status quo as unshakeable, and even Koch’s father believed that the beer industry was doomed to remain stagnant.
(Related: Embrace Confrontation)
“Jim you’ve done some dumb things in your life,” Koch’s father told his son when he heard Koch’s idea for a brewery, according to a CNNMoney article, “This is just about the dumbest.”
Not unlike advisors, Koch had a product that he believed in, and he believed that his unique perspective on an existing space could make a real difference.
To get his product to market, Koch went bar-to-bar with a briefcase of Samuel Adams lager. The door-to-door salesman schtick wasn’t an innovation, but a man passionate about a different kind of beer—offering samples—turned heads. Case by case, by bar by bar, Koch built his brand and his reputation.
Sure, you’re not trying to launch a brewery, but the hidden lesson in Koch’s story is that you need to behave different from the status quo if you want to someday define it. In Koch’s world, no American brewery would send their owner into a bar and offer samples. Where his competition was content with sitting on the shelf of a grocery store, Koch doggedly pursued sales opportunities.
Your business plan should have that sort of dogged resolve and the optimism that you can set a new standard for your industry. Not only is it possible for you to change the space, but it is frankly required that you try.
Here are three ideas
1. Have hope.
To be really good at business planning, you need to approach it with the mentality that just over the horizon is immense opportunity for your business, and if you don’t figure out how to get over the next hill, that opportunity will disappear. If you believe in your potential for growth and change—sincerely believe that your business can be multiples bigger than it is—your business planning should be a war room.
2. Look at both the forest and the trees.
You should bring in specialists to get their insights on your numbers, your marketing, and your leadership. You should interview clients about their experience with you and your people. And you should bring all of these lessons together to create a plan that is not only aggressive but challenges the status quo inside and outside of your business.
3. Shake something up.
Are you going to make the same choices as your competitors? Expect the same results. Are you going to repeat the same marketing as last year? Expect the same (or worse) results. Are you going to use your business plan as a guidance tool to inform the choices you make throughout the coming year? If not, expect results similar to last year.
Use insights—from your experience, your team, and your experts—to build a plan from 2018 that challenges the status quo and charts a clear plan for setting new sales and growth records.
About the Author: John Pojeta—Vice President of Business Development, The PT Services Group
John researches new types of business and manages and initiates strategic, corporate-level relationships to expand exposure for The PT Services Group. John came to The PT Services Group in 2011. Before that, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years.
—Read 2018 Life, Health and Annuity Planner on ThinkAdvisor.