A lot of companies seem to think that because they have a business plan, they are on the right path. It’s good that you have business plan in place, but it also requires action. It is no good neglecting the plan as the company will begin to lose focus.
A month ago I received a call from a former client who was concerned about his business. He also wanted to talk about an exit strategy as he was suffering from poor health which, in a few years time, would mean that he’d have to stop working.
We agreed some three years ago that he did not need any more support as the business was thriving and, when I went to a board meeting, there were no areas that needed my input. However, I asked they get in touch if they ever needed me in the future.
Then the telephone call out of the blue, “I need to meet you to look at a gradual withdrawal from the business”. During the first meeting it was evident to me that things had deteriorated not only in terms of profitability, down by a third, but also systems and structure of the business (which were not being monitored).
I conducted a brief review and report. This highlighted shortcomings, including an extremely lengthy Business Plan that was too long to make any sense – and oh, nobody looked at it during the year.
Management meetings had turned into a cosy chat with no outcomes or action planning. Customer complaints illustrated this as I was told “they are far worse now than ever before but nothing has been done.”
I have revisited and now we have a far shorter plan. There are meetings every month with outcomes reported and action plans in place. The old Business Plan is dead. The phrase, “If you do not know where you are going then any bus will get you there” seemed appropriate. The bus in this case was the old Business Plan – never even left the garage! It was too big, not a working document and left in a drawer with no action!
Someone at the company said to me, “You make us do things that we never get round to doing”. Maybe consultants do have their place?