Everyone has goals. In business plans they seem to be everywhere. What always seems to be in short supply is the answer to “how” these will become reality. I once almost got fired by telling a president of a multi-billion dollar company that his strategy to grow the business was little more than a wish. It isn’t a strategy until you detail the journey on a roadmap. Pointing out the destination isn’t enough.

Goals are great. You have to have them if a business is to thrive. And as I frequently mention, these goals don’t need to be based on growth – they can remove risk, build robustness, and myriad other changes which make a business more stable, replicable and saleable. But if you don’t include “How” you will reach these, it isn’t a business plan. Within any business plan, there needs to be a self-contained business development plan. Where will you find new customers? How will you attract them? What have you got that they want or need? What changes do you need to make to have the right products or services? How do you get this news to your target audience?

Answer just those few questions, and add in time, resource and budget factors for this, and you have a reasonably comprehensive business development plan. But you aren’t done.

Now comes the nasty part. How will you ensure execution of your “How” plan? What I mean by this is managing implementation of your business development plan. You need to ensure execution of each stage. You need follow-up. You need to measure results – and a means for fine-tuning or adjusting the plan. And perhaps most importantly, you need accountability. What happens if you don’t execute, follow-up, measure or achieve results?

Implementing this discipline, turns the plan into a strategy. And that’s the evolution from merely establishing goals: from wish, to plan, to strategy.

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