Here at Cascade we work with hundreds of partners to provide them with a white-label strategy execution platform for their clients. One of those partners is Neil Sayer. He works with small to medium sized businesses and has an unrelenting focus on one outcome: helping them to grow. Neil recently shared the 100-point growth plan he uses with clients when he first starts working with them, and I immediately saw a huge amount of value in the process. He’s kindly allowed us to publish the list in full right here. So check it out, and let us (or Neil) know what you think! You can download the checklist in eBook format, or read on below:
“I’m going to go out on a limb here and pick that you are reading this because like many other business owners of Small and Medium size companies:
- you feel that you are lost in a maze, with no clear direction and focus
- you need fresh ideas, solutions and improved results
- you are coming up short on your goals and aspirations, and you are not sure that they are ‘real’
- you are failing to win targeted business, and struggling with the competition
- you are suffering from too low margins and risk
- you work long hours; with limited support and expertise
- you are frustrated; feeling that it is all too hard; and there must be a better way
- …but you are not a quitter and your passion still runs high!
If this sounds like you, then this “Growthology” growth plan will help you identify the key areas that require priority attention, including some very important considerations. There is no one ‘silver bullet’ that will address all your challenges. Rather, there is a need for an integrated
approach that looks right across your Business Model; the key drivers and the inter-dependencies. So, be bold, take action and use this Checklist:
- Ask colleagues to independently consider each item: tick for “yes” or leave blank for “no”
- Come together as a team to discuss and develop your plan of attack
You will then gain more clarity, focus, team buy in, and a pathway through the maze to grow your business!
The importance of having a structured, but flexible, growth plan
- I understand the importance of having a Growth Plan as the blueprint for company growth; the platform to help set out a clear path and deliver my business goals.
- My plan is more than just ‘in my head’ and is captured, and regularly updated.
- My Plan has team ‘buy-in.’
- We embrace change, particularly to respond to changing market needs and conditions.
- I have a clear and inspiring Vision.
- Key stakeholders are involved, supportive and aligned.
- We have clear Core Values and we ‘walk the talk.’
- We have higher level goals, medium/long term.
- As stepping stones, we have set shorter term goals for the current financial year.
- We have a realistic budget and key resources in place to achieve our short term goals.
- We have a Capacity Plan to increase our capabilities to meet our growth expectations.
Your business model
- I understand the key elements of my Business Model.
- For each of the identified elements, I know what is working well to leverage, and areas to be improved/plugged.
- I regularly appraise the situation: e.g. with robust SWOT & PEST analysis.
- I have a process for regular review with key stakeholders – internal and external (including key customers!).
- My assessments are objective and balanced.
- My Plan is not static, gathering dust.
- We use an integrated system for our strategy planning and execution.
- We actively use Cascade as our integration tool – recognizing that it is a live and practical platform that brings planning, execution, dashboards and people management into one system, and that it underpins our Growth Plan with regular review and update.
- My team has visibility, access and ownership as appropriate; and are therefore aligned, cohesive, empowered and engaged.
- Having reviewed (above) how well my Business Model is working, I have accurately captured the areas that need attention.
- I have incorporated these “Focus Areas” into my Planning tool (Cascade).
- Realistic priorities have been discussed, set and agreed with team involvement.
- Appropriate strategies, tasks and activities are in place for each Focus Area: with time-frames, important milestones, delegated responsibilities and supporting budget.
- Review time-frames have been set.
In particular, I have considered whether:
- I have profiled and identified my target ‘ideal customers’ and the market sectors I want to thrive in.
- I understand my target customers and have a clear, differentiated and credible Value Proposition that has been validated through customer engagement.
- I am targeting the right market(s) with sustainable revenue streams, and I have considered whether I need to expand or refine my market choices – for better margin/less risk.
- My process for Market Selection is robust.
- I am not too reliant on a few key customers.
- I understand the risks associated with my markets/customers, and I am managing these well.
- I am prepared to ‘think out of the box’ and move out of my comfort zone.
- I have considered whether I need to ‘spark-up’ my current Product/Service offering – to catch up, or better still to leap-frog the competition, and whether I need new Product/Service.
- I have Product Development Route Map(s) in place, clearly aligned and validated by my target market(s) and with dedicated resource to bring to fruition.
For any New Product initiative(s), I have a thorough process to cover:
- Idea generation
- Idea screening
- Concept development
- Business Case analysis
- Product development
- Market testing
- I have great Distribution Model(s) to take my product/service to market, and to effectively motivate and manage my sales team, agents, distributors etc.
- I have commercial agreements where needed.
- I have regular communications and I am well informed with market intelligence, pipeline opportunities, etc
- I am not always in a reactive, last minute and stressed mode in my distribution dealings.
- I have established realistic performance requirements.
- I have viable options to change my distribution model if needed.
- Our Sales & Marketing is up to scratch: to position and win targeted business; to gain base load; and to maintain momentum.
- Our pricing allows us to compete, but we do not ‘leave money on the table’!
- We are good at positioning and closing deals, with acceptable terms & conditions and high margin.
- We are not totally price driven, with a clear understanding of our value proposition/value add for the customer.
- We regularly maintain and use a CRM package to keep abreast of our pipeline sales opportunities; to prompt and to follow through with activity.
- We are focused in the opportunities we pursue.
- We pull in the necessary resource to close the ‘must win’ opportunities e.g. the business owner fronting to support lead sales personnel.
- We have regular and solid information on our competitive situation.
- We have processes in place to feedback and respond to the ‘customer experience’ e.g. with further product development.
- We are abreast of external changing market conditions and threats e.g. emerging technologies.
- We have the Capability & Capacity for Growth – across financial management and funding; operations; HR and systems – to meet increasing levels of sales and to manage risk.
- There is no danger that we may not be able to meet customer orders.
- We maintain and regularly review a Capacity Plan to cover future requirements.
- We maintain and regularly review a Risk Management Plan, including:
- Any ‘Key Man’ dependencies.
- Possible need for Succession Planning.
- Status of projects/customer orders in progress – on time, to budget and quality.
- Disputes – pending or actual.
- Financial exposure.
- Health and Safety.
- Implications (high/medium/low) and mitigating actions.
- My team is well balanced, full of expertise, performing well and motivated for more.
- Sensible KPIs have been established.
- We have performance based incentives.
- There are no obvious gaps in our team.
- Key members of the team; current and upcoming stars have Individual Development Plans.
- We manage our time effectively.
- We operate on a ‘no surprises’ basis.
- We are truly working as a team, with a great underlying culture.
Ignite your growth plan
For each Focus Area, my Plan captures:
- Sensible goals.
- Realistic and proactive strategies, key tasks and activities.
- Schedule and milestones.
- Responsibility and accountability.
- Review time-frames.
Keep your “Finger on the Pulse”
- I have regular visibility on progress for each Focus Area.
- I have identified the key elements that I must have a handle on for ‘a good nights’ sleep’ e.g.:
- Cash Flow.
- Sales Pipeline.
- Sales conversion/success rates.
- Health and Safety.
- Team performance/motivation.
- Competitor activity.
- Meeting customer time-frames.
- Product development.
- I have systems for visibility on these key areas when I need it – whether quarterly, monthly, weekly, or immediately.
- Structured with an effective agenda.
- User friendly, to the point Reporting.
- User friendly, timely, and accessible Dashboards with key information/metrics.
- Integrated, and ‘in the cloud’’.
- Information is accurate and current.
- My team have delegated authorities and accountability.
Benefit from expert help
- I have considered how I will benefit from independent help to develop and deliver my Growth Plan.
- To keep my Plan on track, I will benefit from the opportunity for weekly troubleshooting, and monthly review meetings.
- To keep me, and my team, more accountable with follow through.
- To further develop and execute the strategies and activity.
So, how did you do on the checklist? If you feel as though you could use a hand with any of the areas identified, I’d love to have a chat.”
Neil Sayer from Globalise is a former award winning CEO and now a leading Business Coach, working with the owners and managers of SME manufacturing companies to deliver growth. His experience is recognized, impressive and global. So, wherever you are, and whatever stage in your development, Neil and his “Growthology” program can provide practical, “how to” guidance on the topics covered in this Checklist with regular support as you develop your Growth Plan.