"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else!"
It is harder to say what you are not going to do than it is to plan what you are going to do.
In November last year we wrote about planning your budget and talked about the importance of the execution. As this is so fundamental to you and your business, we wanted to dedicate some more time to it and get you to do the same. Budget is not just a document full of figures where you can measure and track your business performance looking at it every month to see if you are on track, it is also the format for the main plan of actions and initiatives that you will all focus on and take forward for the year. Without these actions and initiatives how do you expect to smash the goals?
Some of the best thought through budgets fail not because the budget itself was to blame, neither is it the capability of the team or people, but the fact that the business was not focused on delivering the right actions/initiatives.
We have helped many businesses who have focused on initiatives that were not going to deliver the budget and were acting as more of a distraction than anything else. We also see businesses trying to achieve too much where in the end nothing is really executed at all and the business struggles as a result. We accept it is harder to say what you are not going to do than define what you plan to do, but this is crucial in being successful. Here are some tips:
The Top 5
Define your top 5 initiatives or changes you require for your business for the coming year. “I have more than that we hear you say” Did you know that the top 5 initiatives usually deliver 70% of the impact you require. So, get out that budget document, review it with your team and brainstorm your top 5 most important ideas. Once you have defined them ask yourselves some questions, are these actions or initiatives critical to the delivery of the budget? Can you as a business physically achieve them? How are you going to deliver them? If they all pass this scrutiny, then you have your top 5.
Time to cascade
These can now be broadcast across your business and with your team and instantly you and everyone in your business are focused…awesome!. The easiest way to do this is by making it part of your appraisal system, or we prefer to call it the Annual Development Review. These short reviews with each member of the team should review the training and needs for the team member and explain what the business expects of them in the year ahead. Giving them 5 things to focus on keeps it simple and these should define what they need to do that will help the company achieve its Top 5 Initiatives. These actions should be easy to understand so that each team member knows what they need to do to deliver them with timelines and quantifiable deliverables. This should be done within weeks of completing the budget so that you and the team have a running chance to deliver them in the year…the new budget year has started after all.
What you track will be delivered and importantly what you do not track will not be delivered, well it has less likelihood of being delivered!! Being efficient and following up with team members, challenging them and yourself with deadlines keeps things moving and will help you succeed. Data is very important to track performance and progress so where possible have KPI’s and measures to monitor progress. We find that setting smaller milestones and targets through the year allows you the opportunity to change course if you need to and importantly gives you the opportunity to reward team performance throughout the year when they achieve them. Having a rolling 100 day plan will allow you to clearly see when activities are scheduled, even see if you are taking on too much at one time, and allows you to correct the plan if necessary keeping you on the front foot.
There is always room for more You may find that with all the focus and efficient tracking that you start to achieve more than you expected! In that case go back to your original list and pick off the next target, opportunity or initiative. It is always good to have some other ideas up your sleeve as these will plug the gap when things don’t go to plan…not everything happens as you want it to after all.
Best of luck with the year ahead. If you would like some help with defining your initiatives do get in touch. We developed our Business Boot Camp with all the above in mind.