I need to do a business plan but the market is moving too fast. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I work in a large organisation that used to be a government-owned entity. In order to make the place more entrepreneurial (or something) every executive at every level needs to come up with an annual business plan for how they will grow their business unit.

In the past, it’s been an exercise in box-ticking – everyone writes a pretty crap little document and then we file and forget. But my current boss is insisting we take it seriously this year.

I am trying my best, but my problem is that the market is moving too fast. This year alone we’ve had several big economic shocks, two legislative changes and a whole string of technological changes that mean things look very different from where they were even six months ago.

Aunty, what’s my strategy here? Just scratch something together and don’t worry about it? Or is there something meaningful I can create.

GY,

Adelaide

 

Dear GY,

An organisation with hundreds or even thousands of business plans floating around? Sounds like one of the seven circles of hell to me.

But your situation would be recognisable to lots of business owners who are preparing plans for calendar 2013 – seeing out 12 months with any accuracy is very hard at the moment.

I’m not sure how much room there is in a former government department for creative thinking, but one strategy you could consider is a sort of dual-track planning process.

At the top level, create your annual business plan as a sketch of the year ahead – what are they key goals for the year, what performance metrics will you use to measure them, what will your part of the business look like in 12 months’ time.

That’s the standard part of the business plan. But throw in something else – a quarterly action plan.

This document will talk much more specifically about the things you will focus on in the first quarter of 2013. This part of the plan needs to be updated every three months (yes, I know, that’s not great) but it will give you a fighting chance of making the business plan actually mean something.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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