Telling the truth about SME life today

Planning and delivery: A balancing act

Most of us are too much in love with our businesses. We are technicians who spend most of our time working in our businesses and don’t spend enough time stepping back and working on the business.

Now I?m not saying planning is overrated. Our plan is a roadmap that will show us how to get where we want to be. Business planning is about making your mistakes on paper; it is about seeing how your ideas might pan out. But never forget that the plan and the reality are not the same thing.

The fairytale suggests that, with a bit of strategic thinking, we can create a scalable business. Put in systems and processes that can be duplicated and, hey presto! Your business grows like topsy.

But there’s a flaw in this argument: if it is that easy to scale or duplicate your idea, surely anyone could do it?

So, you need to have something that is scalable but also not entirely clonable. Suddenly not so easy.

That’s why the Dragons always ask: “Is it scalable and “Is it patented or defendable ?

Most businesses, set up from the spark of an entrepreneurial idea, have leaders (inventor-creator-technicians), who are great at working in the business making, building, doing and might be great at getting a small business going.

But as you grow, you need the very things that most self-employed people loathe. The things they struck out on their own to get away from systems, processes and controls.

In order to avoid endlessly reinventing the wheel, you need to streamline and systemise much of what you do.

So, you’ve got your plan and you’re working on streamlining it. Great, but you have to get your business delivering.

Give the client something to see; show them you are on the case. It is better to deliver a draft or a prototype rather than continue to work on the 93rd minor improvement/refinement/adjustment for fear the client might not be entirely happy.

Your first attempt is never 100 per cent perfect, but being ahead of your competition, and ahead of your client’s expectations is. A website up is better than a website still being designed.

So, that’s the process: plan, by all means, but don’t neglect the delivery. And if you get that balance right, you’re halfway there.

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