I was asked a question today. It was about our Manifast product which is aimed at allowing businesses to bring strategy, working on the business and developing your people to the same level of importance as working in the business; serving customers and fighting fires.

Roughly the question went like "How much effort is required to setup the tool and maintain the information in it? Is the benefit of doing all that stuff worth it?"

Aside from the context of the tool the question is really more fundamental:

"Is the effort of documenting, planning and executing your strategy, building your business and developing your people worth it? Would I not be better served just taking action and spending the time serving our customers and finding more customers and deal with issues as they come up?"

Is Business Planning and Improvement Worth It?

If you are a one person shop or very small organization you may be able to keep everything in your head. You may be doing some strategic planning and working on the business is really just changing the way YOU do things. Not hard to track.

My experience as well as learning from numerous sources is that the majority of businesses that don't consistently plan and execute on their plans under-perform their competitors significantly. If you are in an industry that is trending upwards you may still be profitable and even seem to be doing well.

However, you are likely leaving tens of thousands to millions of dollars on the table. You may be impeding your ability to grow and sustain that growth. Your business may not be heading in the direction you really want it to and it may not serve your needs as the owner.

Your fire fighting will likely consume more and more of your time as you grow. A great business will fix problems and become self-healing without everything being a force of will from the top. You just need to take the time to build that organization and train the people in it on building a business.

Do You Want to Have a Great Business?

Great businesses have great customers. They attract top talent and top customers much more easily than their competitors. This translates to larger profits and ultimately, a great value on the business itself.

Each company must choose its path. Choosing the path to being a great company (large or small) means doing those things most other businesses chose not to do.

  • Consciously choosing your path and taking action to get there;
  • Building a strong corporate culture and brand;
  • Building the best possible business to reinforce and support the objectives;
  • Working on the business and people so the fires don't come back;
  • Hiring and developing your people to support your business;
  • Building a truly learning, engaged and empowered organization that can move quickly in the market;
  • An organization that plans and more importantly executes its plans through action.

Yes, this takes some work. Many people advise that organizations spend 10-20% of your budget on strategy, business and people development (more if you are growing quickly or spending on research and development for new products).

And Using a Tool?

And using a tool to manage all of this? Where were you going to document it all without the tool? How were you going to track everything that needs to get done? How much time would you be spending communicating and coordinating all of that information and keeping everyone on the same page? How much time tracking accountability? How much time conceiving and managing the process of managing all of this and ensuring it gets done?

And the real work is in the execution.

Yes, there is some learning time to master a new tool. Yes, there is some initial setup time and you need to invest in maintaining the tool. The underlying business skills take time to learn as well.

Any good tool pays for itself many times over.

How much effort does it take to go from good to great? Much less over time if you have the right tools and use them well.

Are you looking to build a great business? How are you doing it today?