Outside funding sources, such as banks, request a business plan. If you’re not seeking a bank loan, then you probably don’t have a business plan. And, if you’ve been feeling guilty about not doing one yet, no worries. You’re in good company.
Simply put, business plans are dull, boring and stagnant.
Consider what inspired you to open your firm. Maybe, it was circumstances, or you believed you could do a better job than your employer. Whatever it was, your decision was prompted by something external. However, actually making it happen was internally driven.
Whatever the cause, I encourage you to ditch the business plan. Then, replace it with an inspiring strategic plan.
Basically, a strategic plan acts as your business success roadmap. If you’re a growth-minded accounting professional who is ready to take your business to the next level, then this is for you. You’ll gain focus, direction and clarity about your next best move.
Here are six secrets to creating a profitable strategic plan:
1. Know your destination. When you take a road trip, you typically begin with where you are. Next, you pinpoint your destination. Then, you figure out how to get from here to there. The same is true with a traditional business plan.
Well, let’s change that up. As Steven Covey states in his best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the beginning starts with the end in mind. This concept is known as reverse engineering.
2. A new path. Reverse engineering is similar to driving a new route from your home to the office. With the old route, you don’t pay much attention since you do it every day. Your mind may be thinking about your next meeting during the drive. But, with the new route, you’re more tuned in simply because it’s less familiar. Therefore, you notice interesting details along the way.
Starting with the end in mind, or reverse engineering, is different from how you typically plan things out. You’re more likely to gain insight from this novel approach.
3. What’s your end game? Envisioning your success is the first step of your strategic plan. How do you define success? What changes occur once you achieve success? What’s your annual revenue? Who’s on your team? Is your business in the cloud, or brick and mortar?
Typically, a business plan is concrete. Either you’re succeeding or failing. However, business growth isn’t a zero sum game.
Your vision influences your strategic plan. Because it’s fluid, you adapt the plan, as necessary.
As a sports psychologist-turned business coach, I’ve witnessed the power of a compelling vision. Whether you’re an aspiring accounting professional or an elite athlete, success requires you to define your destination. Otherwise, you flounder, causing you to wonder why success feels out of reach.
4. Be specific. As you envision your success, be highly specific. You possess an inner GPS, called the Reticular Activating System. That part of your brain responds best to rich details. It’s like putting an exact address into your GPS, instead of a general location.
Your strategic plan transforms your vision into specific, concrete milestones. Write down all your ideas. Don’t just dream them. Get specific with your numbers. My business will bring in $150,000 this year.
How many clients do you need to earn $150,000 in revenue? 10 at $15,000, or 5 at $20,000 plus 100 individual tax returns at $497 each? Yes, your strategic plan benefits from exact numbers. Pull out your calculator.
Where will you work? Who’s your ideal client? Do you have a home-based business, or require office space? Will you have a small team of three or four, or manage a staff of 40 or 50? Are you charging by the hour, or using value-based pricing?
What services do you offer your clients? Are you doing 350 individual tax returns in addition to your services? Payroll? Clean up? Consulting? What’s your tax season plan?
The more details, the easier it is to construct the milestones that will help you grow your firm.
5. The big why. Your why keeps you on your success path, especially when it’s tough. What’s your burning desire? Connect with your reason for building a business, instead of working in someone else’s firm.
If it’s primarily to make money, then you’ll eventually burn out. Instead, tap into a meaningful reason. How do you intend to make a difference?
Here’s an advanced tip: a deeply personal desire is preferable to a global one.
My purpose is twofold:
- Family is my priority. With a location-independent business, my husband, Steve, and I, travel extensively without interrupting our business flow. Plus, we spend quality time visiting with our family.
- My work as a business coach creates a positive ripple effect. By helping high-achieving accounting professionals build a prosperous business that supports their lifestyle – instead of one that drains the life out of them – they reduce overwhelm, increase their income and positively impact their clients.
Without a purpose, you will eventually stray away from your ideal business. Yes, money is important. But, it’s typically not the primary reason you start a business.
6. Why an inspiring strategic plan matters. Success means different things to different people. This is why it is critical to clearly envision what success means to you based on your purpose – your why. You may find yourself adjusting your steps along that way; however, the end goal remains crystal clear.
Whenever you have setbacks – they do happen in business – your strategic plan will help you get back on course. Remember, this is your business GPS. When you veer off course, it adapts and re-routes.
Ever notice how accounting professionals tend to minimize their achievements? Acknowledgment, however, plays an important role. Go ahead and celebrate each completed milestone. Maybe, it’s a pat on the back, or a celebration dinner.
The Solution to Developing Your Strategic Plan
What does your inspiring strategic plan look like? This becomes your business blueprint. I redo mine each year. Getting started can seem overwhelming. On the other hand, the rewards of building a business that’s connected to your purpose are priceless.