Avoiding Business Drift
By Bridgit Finley, PT, DPT
Have you ever floated on a raft in the ocean? One minute you are peacefully enjoying your day, and the next minute you realize that you have drifted significantly off course and are unknowingly miles away from shore. Drifting away from your destination happens in life and business more often than we realize. As business owners, we get caught up in completing the day-to-day urgent tasks, and we forget to follow our strategic plan.
A strategic plan is a road map for your business. A well-designed plan will identify long- and short-term goals, define how you will allocate your time and energy, and determine how to spend your resources. This plan makes it possible to focus your limited resources on the things that matter most, like how to manage your staff, time, and money. Taking the time to properly develop a strategic plan will prevent your company from ending up adrift. Most business leaders say they never have the time and money they need, yet they do not take the time to complete a strategic plan and define their target. Or even worse, they complete a strategic plan, and it sits on the shelf for the next 12 months collecting dust. If you are unsatisfied with the direction your business is heading in, as the business leader, you have the ability to initiate a strategic plan to facilitate a change.
Sixty-three percent of small- and medium-sized businesses do not have a strategic plan. Researcher Gail Matthews at Dominican University of California determined that people who wrote down their goals accomplish about 42 percent more of their goals than those in the study who did not write down their goals.1 A strategic plan is committing your goals to paper. And while a proven process, the act of creating a thorough plan can be daunting. So where to start? Following these simple steps can help to create a solid strategic plan for your business:
1. Create a 3–5 year goal. Research supports starting with the end in mind and working backwards to determine the best metrics and action items to achieve your yearly objectives.2,3 By envisioning the end goal, you can begin to determine the items that most warrant your attention. Things to consider include revenue projections, number of patient visits, number of staff members, and number of clinic locations.
2. Perform a fourth quarter review. The end of the year is a perfect time to review your current year and make a plan for the next year. Review the metrics that you have identified as drivers of your business. These metrics will vary from practice to practice and can include anything from revenue, patient visits, and customer acquisition costs to referral patterns and profit margin. In addition, determine any projects that are incomplete. Last, create a list of the initiatives that yielded a positive result.
3. Tie up any loose ends. Devote a significant amount of time at the end of the year to completing open-ended items on your to do list. Creating a clean slate to work from will allow you to narrow your focus. If a task on your list has become less important or unnecessary, cross it off and move on.
4. Complete a Start, Stop, and Continue exercise. What does the company need to start doing that it is currently not doing; what does the company need to stop doing that is wasting resources or is of little value; and what should the company continue doing that has been successful in the past? This simple three-part list will create clarity on your direction.
5. Decide on your action items for the next year. Determine 3–5 goals you would like to accomplish in the next year and assign a metric to measure each. Perhaps expand on the already successful initiatives you identified from the previous year. Use these goals and metrics as your benchmark throughout the next year.
6. Create a company rhythm. Determine which metrics you will review on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis to monitor your ability to achieve your strategic plan. Your strategic plan is your long-term focus, and your metrics are the short-term insight that determines if you are on target. To learn more about setting your rhythm and achieving your goals, consider reading Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth, by Patrick Thean.4
7. Make adjustments. If you do not achieve your metrics in their assigned time frame, determine what adjustments are necessary to get back on target. Utilize team members to brainstorm solutions to enhance company participation.
As quarters race by, and the end of a year approaches, you are faced with the question, “Did we achieve what we set out to accomplish, or am I drifting away from shore?” Execution of the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks identified in your strategic plan will anchor your company to its long-term goals and allow you to maintain a steady course toward success. Happy planning!!
1. www.dominican.edu/dominicannews/study-demonstrates-that-writing-goals-enhances-goal-achievement. Accessed December 2017.
2. www.psychologicalscience.org/news/minds-business/trying-to-get-ahead-plan-in-reverse-study-suggests.html. Accessed December 2017.
4. Thean P. Rhythm: How to Achieve Breakthrough Execution and Accelerate Growth. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group; 2014.
Bridgit Finley, PT, DPT, is a PPS member, founder and chief executive officer of Physical Therapy Central in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.