Last week, we ended with a challenge to design an end-game scenario or story for the end of this year. In other words, how would you optimally describe your business on December 31, 2016 if you could have your most desired outcome? Today we begin with the end. That is the only productive way to start anything with a desired result. It is very hard to get there if you don't have any idea what it is. You cannot create a path to something you have not identified. Engaging your team in a set of goals is almost impossible without the ability to tell them where they are going.
Getting a clear picture of where you are going with your business can be daunting and sometimes confusing, but a few simple tips will help.
The first is to decide how long of a time horizon you will tackle. Our suggestion: a rolling three years for a strategic vision; one year for a tactical vision, divided into quarters, months, and weeks.
To provide a complete picture of your business in the future, describe dynamics that impact your growth and presence in the market place. We recommend these categories be included in defining your Optimal Outcome:
What will your revenues be? What are the products and services you will be providing to your customers? How will your products and services be continuously improved and innovated?
Staffing and Locations
How many employees will you have and what positions will they serve? How will your staffing add to your services and ability to deliver? How many locations will you maintain? What markets will you serve?
Marketing and Growth Strategy
Who will be your target markets and how will you reach them with your message? Will you have any additional markets you will expand to serve? Are there other product offerings you will introduce to expand your markets?
What will be your customer service strategy and unique attributes? What will give you a competitive edge and what will contribute to its sustainability? How will your organizations structure, systems strategy, and your people contribute to your sustainable competitive advantages?
What is important about what your business does? If you had to describe "why" your business exists, or "why" you went into or started your business, what would you say? How is your community better for having your business there? How are your customers better for it?
The third suggestion is to write your story as of your selected future date, as though it is today. For example, it might start by saying “It is January of 2019, and our business continues to achieve its most important objectives...” Finally, keep it short-about one to one and a half pages typed. This is far more than a simple mission statement or list of goals, but it is also not a full business plan. It is a story that clearly tells you and your team where you are going, and provides that starting point for the further identification of specific goals to be achieved and benchmarks to hit in order to reach your objectives. It is the foundation piece for the next step, which is designing the key benchmarks and goals-the roadmap if you will-for getting to the finish line. That will be our next topic.