In the early days of your business you need to plan religiously. You need plans to build revenue, plans to provide a consistent, high quality services and contingency plans in case these fall through. Even big, established business can have problems when they’ve not planned for difficult circumstances. Just look at KFC, who relied too heavily on a single delivery firm and found the majority of their branches due to a lack of chicken logistics problems held up their supplies.
Putting all your eggs in one basket like KFC is clearly a bad idea, that’s why learning to plan is important. It’s a skill just like any other, and too few people put in the time to practising and developing it. For example, those who’ve not worked on planning don’t recognise that a plan that’s too unrelenting, that doesn’t give you the flexibility to change your approach when circumstances don’t line up with your expectations is just as dangerous to your business as not having any overriding strategy at all.
To plan for success you need data. One valuable source of data is your business’ own history: you can see how revenue has risen and fallen in response to factors over the course of years, whether that’s decisions you’ve taken, new products you’ve launched and new hires you’ve brought in, or factors entirely beyond your control like the weather, the school year or wider financial conditions.
Of course there are lots of reasons why you may not have applicable data. If you’re a new business, you simply don’t have this history to fall back: first time founders and CEOs have energy, ambition and a driving idea but not a great deal of experience. You may also be trying to make a decision that your previous experience simply doesn’t have a frame of reference for. If a business that for decades has prided itself on old fashioned, technophobic charm is trying to find the right brand marketing platform, there is simply nothing within the scope of their expertise to help them make that decision.
It’s at times like this you consult market research agencies. Talk with the professionals about the decision you’re trying to make, the data you need and they will be able to come up with a programme of research and surveys to get you the information you need to feel fully informed. Successful planning for the future has to be founded on data, and decisions backed up by research not just so they are the right decisions, but so you can account for them to your employees, your investors and showcase your decision making to your clients as well!