Make a business plan! It’s the number one rule for all new ventures. Every business book, every “get rich quick” book, every project management handbook insists upon it.
What the experts often fail to say is just how important it is to be realistic. You can make any business plan work on paper if you’re creative enough. “We will quadruple our revenue by selling 4000 additional widgets next month!” “How many did you sell this month?” “35, but I’ve got a GREAT plan!”
It’s entirely possible that your change strategy is so brilliant, so life changing, that it’s the next Apple computers or internal combustion engine (please feel free to write me so we can interview you for our “Five for Fridays”). But more likely, you are not the exception. And that’s where doing your math homework comes in.
What is the team doing now (selling, closing, producing, treating, turning). What does your proposed change do to that number? What is the cost of the change? Have you factored in the opportunity costs involved (see Rule #3)? What extra incidental costs will result (support staff, additional technology costs) if your project comes to fruition? Don’t base it on the best month your team ever had. Base it on an average month. And if your year is seasonal, run it for each quarter, using an average per quarter.
Is it worth doing? Is the potential disruption of processes and routine worth the net result of your activity? And even if you think so, would anyone else agree? Get someone from outside your industry to punch holes in your strategy and to ask lots of questions. It may uncover some other areas you need to look at.
Moving results into dollars and cents, either in terms of revenue growth or cost savings, can go a long way towards advancing your strategy. Numeric arguments that show they’ve taken all the factors into account will win every time.
And for those of you in the government or non-profit sector who don’t measure all activities in terms of dollars and cents, we’ll talk a great deal about how you can measure in Rule#6.
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