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All Froth, No Cappuccino!

A phrase often used by one of my trainers in reference to people who talk a good talk and who fail to back it up with any substance.

As someone who enjoys a good latte, I skip the froth altogether as it makes the coffee a much shorter drink which tastes too strong for my liking. Applied to business planning and goal setting this metaphor can be useful.

Numerous clients have commented that they find business planning overwhelming – and for some it’s tedious – because they see it as a laborious and time consuming process. This can be the case, especially if you have it in your head that you have to create a 30-page masterpiece, or indeed if you’re writing someone else’s business plan which may have little relevance to your own situation.

If your experience of writing business plans is anything like mine then I can appreciate why you might be inclined to put off such an exercise. I must have spent hundreds of hours in salaried jobs writing departmental plans for my business unit and latterly, in my capacity as Human Resources Director, creating templates for function heads to use and then leading the way by completing my own first.

Like appraisal documents, there was often a major focus given, by the Company, to the business planning process before the start of a new financial year. By the end of the first quarter however, it had usually degenerated into a policing exercise in an attempt to hold managers accountable for their stated plans.

So, what if your business plan – and I am including those of you whose business is ‘ME PLC’ – only needed to be one side of A4? What layer of detail could you strip away without diluting the emphasis placed on that which is most important to you? What additional clarity would that give you?

If nothing else, seriously simplifying the exercise will get you started and save you lots of time in the process. It’s a lot easier to keep going once we’re off the starting blocks and so you might even find it enjoyable. One client recently told me that he finds it quite therapeutic to write down and type out his annual business plan and to reflect on how he feels about the year that’s just gone.

Sounds good to me; I’m off to put the kettle on…

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