Business Plans as usual


A part of any ambitious CEO job description is going from business plan to business plan.  It is the first thing a PE, bank or shareholder asks for and wants to analyze and question.  Often this request is more a need for financial figures, required investment, revenue growth, Ebitda, ROCE and other KPI-goodies.

My advice is, however, is to hold back on these numbers and start with a clearer understanding of where you want to end up.  A vision of what and where your ideas will bring you in 5 to 10 years from now in terms of customer added value, the needed and ever more important environmental benefits, the part technology will play and what unique and distinctive position your company will take up in the target markets.  Where will we move the needle towards?

By painting this ideal, yet in your mind realistic, picture, you can hopefully inspire your stakeholders to BELIEVE.  Once there is belief in the achievable end-station of the trip, the business plan will almost write itself.  Meanwhile, it is also crucial you understand that you will never reach this projected end-station…  This sounds strange, but reality will push your plans towards a new and improved business plan before you get to the end station.  It is like shifting gear before the car reaches the high RPM.

An accepted target destination makes the drawing of the map towards it easier and when all hearts and minds are aligned, the business plan becomes a truly joint effort.  Once all parties have underwritten your business plan, you can finally divert from it.  Straying of the planned route is necessary to keep on challenging your path and avoiding obstacles and roadblocks which you will certainly encounter.  Creating sideroads makes you agile and with some trial and error you might even find useful shortcuts.  This is how you move the needle.

To conclude with my short advice on business plans.  Spend more time with different stakeholders such as customers, team members, shareholders, wife and kids, banks and outside advisors on the detailed destination postcard.  It will help you find your way, write your plan and enjoy the trip and beauty along the roads.  The fun lies in the journey, not the end-point, this will move forward anyway before you get there…  Enjoy!

So, when will you write your next business plan?  Don’t wait…

Jesse Sels

Jesse Sels

Managing Director Contraload Group

“What can I do to get it done?”

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