Your business plan isn't that important, it's the process

100921 First Snow After-127 degrees out by the studio barn this morning, getting ready for the big blow comin' on Monday.  About time, in a season of almost zero snow.  Just enough to test out the new Big Boy blower.

I'm sure when I go to the Winhall General Store at 8 for coffee and a breakfast sandwich, everyone will be talking, hoping and planning for the first of the big storms. 

Skiers and riders have not really been affected by the lack of snow this season since Stratton has been making plenty of snow since Thanksgiving.  That's always the plan at any major ski area: have at least a few trails open at Thanksgiving for marketing, and then pump millions of gallons of water daily to cover every trail by Christmas. That's the plan, and the Stratton management team and the night crews on the hill are deeply experienced masters at both planning and the execution of that plan.  

But that's not the same for the local population of independent snow contractors with one truck and a plow, or for the much larger, well-established maintenance businesses who create their winter hiring and expense budgets all based on "the plan" that Mother Nature will deliver.   

So, is a business plan important?  

marketing-2-1Sure, but not really if what you mean by a business plan is a set of financials that some accounting manager put together for your bank or for your board.   For years, when I was a senior exec at a F500 corporation, "the plan" was little else than a forced set of departmental numbers that met the company's already stated growth projections.  It was a total waste of hundreds of hours of management time for everyone involved since the output was only for financial engineering and not for the reality of collectively bringing together very bright management to work together as a team on co-dependent strategies and tactics.  The result of poor senior management back then. 

Although business planning processes are much better today in general, what I still see today are too many senior managers not taking the time to create the opportunity of bringing their managers together in a formal, quick, and interactive actual planning process.

What is critically important is the planning process itself!

Business plans by themselves rarely come together as they were planned.  Think about it...

  • Managers start thinking about their planning for upcoming year in October
  • Meetings are held, strategies are debated, and budgets are argued in November
  • Tactical plans on markets, sales, product and hiring come together in December 

...all attempting to forecast exactly what's going to happen 3, 6, 9 and 12 months in the future.  Simply not going to happen just the same as it's impossible to exactly predict when it's going to snow in the geography of 20 small Vermont towns whose economy is largely dependent on tourists, snow in the winta' and foliage in the first 10 days of October.

What is critical is that when your business plan, for whatever reason, does not come together at the end of a couple of months or a quarter, management brings itself together as a team to collaboratively figure out..."now what?"  That's the importance of real business planning not the plan, but the process through which every key player participates as a team.  Happens in the best sports teams, in the best management teams in large corporations everywhere and in small businesses in the hills of Vermont.  

Our new 2022 edition of Writing the Winning Business Plan

20 years ago, when I first started teaching at MIT, I knew that I needed something that reflected how I thought about business plans...especially for small and mid-market business.  I also knew that I needed something that would allow managers like me to understand what to do and how to do it rather than get lost in consultant-speak.  So, I wrote this free ebook, which I update a couple of times every year for my teaching, but most importantly for business managers to provide a guide and to promote proactive engagement among those managers to come together and quickly solve questions and immediately plan out new solutions for those times when it doesn't snow exactly as planned.  

Have a great day selling today!  I'm off to the general store since I am planning on that breakfast sandwich given that the temp is now up to a balmy 30.

...and if you want to join me and the ENET (Boston Entrepreneurs Network) team Wednesday night to discuss what I see for very different tactics for 2022 sales success, just click here- More Sales in '22!  

Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach AN ANYTIME SOUNDING BOARD IN '22 

If at any time this year, you have a need for a confidential sounding board for your 2022 business or sales planning process, just connect with me!  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a very good listener, and we can get deep into tactics if you want. Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts. 




Tags: business plans, strategic planning, business planning meetings, writing business plans, 2022businessplansuccess