Success in business is not something that happens by accident and luck. While you can benefit from being in the right place at the right time, unless you have the foundations in place to make maximise the gains from your good fortune, it might as well not have happened. One of the most important skills for a CEO, a founder, a business owner of any kind, is planning: marshalling your resources so you’re prepared for any eventuality.
Today we’re taking a look at how you can plan, and prepare so you’re ready for your business to succeed before you’ve even begun.
The most important thing you can do as a business owner is gather data, so you know exactly how your business is performing, the consequences of decisions you’ve taken, and how factors beyond your control like weather and economic issues affect your customer’s behaviour.
Your internal performance you track yourself. Setting up systems to record and interpret sales data, the frequency of refunds and so on is not easy to do perfectly, but well worth the time it takes.
For the behaviour of consumers and market beyond your own small share of it, you need to get some help. Talking to a market research firm means you can track the performance of your brand over the course of months or years, to see how your decisions affect how consumers perceive you, and how your brand is impacted by the world at large: news stories, and the actions of your competitors that you cannot control, only react to. Click here to find out more about market research.
With your research systems in place and ticking over, you can use them to inform plans. There are two main types of plans you need to have in place: active plans and contingency plans. The first kind are plans for the steps you want to take to drive your business forward: you need to decide on what you want to achieve, be that growth into new markets, increasing revenue or reducing waste, and then making specific plans to achieve those goals.
Contingency plans mean being ready when things go wrong. Your research will help to reveal potential failure states for your business: times when you can predict the going could tough, whether that simply means business trails off over summer, or more complex factors, like expecting clients to get reluctant to sign up with the interest rate passes a particular threshold.
Once you know these things are possible, or even likely, you can work to avoid them: spreading invoices to maintain a trickle of income in quiet months, or coming up with new offers that tempt clients even economic circumstances turn adverse.
With research and planning, you can be ready for any situation the world throws at you, and make sure your business makes it through.