Both Business Success and Succession Success® require efficient and productive use of people, time and resources. Without clearly stated business objectives, it becomes easy to get mired in Foggy Bottom because:

  • No one takes action because no one knows what action to take.
  • Roles and responsibilities shift from a specific person to the always absent “someone.”
  • Even worse, the responsibility gets shifted back to you and your work load increases. You aren’t able to focus on “Working On” your business vs. “Working In,” which is critical to achieving your succession goals.

A prospect recently told me that he didn’t believe in planning. “It cuts down on my options. You put a plan together and right away people stop thinking outside the box. They start to lose sight of the bigger picture.” That’s an interesting approach from several standpoints, but without defining and understanding where you want to be in the future your business will often struggle with the efficient application of the three primary capital resources: people; time; and money.

The first step in developing a strategic plan for your business is to focus on your mission, vision, and values. Identifying your business’s core values are particularly important because they give the staff all they need to know about how to make decisions. The vision gives insight regarding the future of the organization, including ownership.

Second, spend some time identifying the critical success factors of your business.   Your initial list may contain scores of Strengths, Limitations, Opportunities, and Threats. Review your list and pare it down to issues that are strategic in nature – issues and/or concerns that will drive you toward or away from accomplishing your primary mission. You should only be left with a handful.

Next, take some time to prioritize business and succession strategies. These would include customer focus, market focus, method of sale, method of distribution, profit and return, size and growth, human resources, production capability, natural resources, products offered, and services offered.   While each of these is important, at any given point in time some will be less important than others.

Having developed your strategic priorities, you are now ready to begin setting the objectives that let people know what qualifies as the “right thing” to do. In addition to the day to day requirements of your business, there will be three to five long term objectives that require concentrated use of people, time, and money. As part of your planning, make sure that people know what action steps are to be taken, who will be responsible, when they should be completed, what additional resources are available for their use, and what the outcome will look like. Simple as it is, this is critical to success.


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