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Bruce’s View: Create an actionable plan

December 9, 2014 -  By

Planning is crucial to profitable business growth, but few companies ever realize their plan’s full potential. Here are four ways to execute and stay on track.

1. Reach out to employees. Use a facilitator to help the process remain open and objective. A facilitator gives the employees protection to offer up their very valuable opinions without having to give them directly to you, the owner. Often the best insight is in the things left unsaid.

2. Set stretch goals. The best plans stretch your team. You can (and probably should) give your banker a conservative budget, but why not have a stretch budget? Planning should involve some realistic assessment of what’s likely going to happen if you do or change nothing. It also should focus on what you can do to achieve something special.

3. Factor in contingencies. A robust strategic plan must be grounded in your company’s economics and marketplace variables. It involves shrewd forecasting and evaluating uncertainties. The best planners plan for both best- and worst-case scenarios, especially when it comes to weather. It’s a lot of work, but preparation prevents failure.

4. Monitor and measure. The plan is not an end in itself. It must be monitored and measured. Be sure to give regular updates at management meetings; create ownership of actionable goals so someone is accountable; stay committed through due dates; review your plan against reality every quarter; target sales and marketing tools to align and link them between your business goals and revenue; and reward success. Measure what’s important, not what’s easy.

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About the Author:

The author, of the Wilson-Oyler Group, is a 30-year industry veteran. Reach him at

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