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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Business planning

Yesterday, we spent the day at our annual planning meeting. This meeting is traditionally associated with much larger businesses -- most organizations our size would wonder why such expensive retreats are essential. But I know now how important the exercise is -- it is the beginning of the evolution of the business into a truly substantive and effective (and much larger) enterprise.

While the meeting discussions are confidential -- it rarely makes sense to broadcast your plans to current and potential competitors! -- we agreed that an accelerated growth strategy is indeed viable, especially since it is based on fundamental and measurable principals, within a large area. We won't compromise our standards. In our case, the cliche "the business is defined by the quality of the people working in it" will define and determine our growth plans.

Most impressively, our employees discussed 'side projects' outside the meeting agenda -- initiatives showing teamwork, co-operation and idea-sharing.

I think many who would benefit the most from this type of structured meeting would see it as a consultants' cash grab, or the stuff only "big businesses" with big bureaucracies require. They are missing the point. If you are to grow your business successfully, you need to have a solid and manageable plan -- and planning system -- and effective resources to both attract and engage your employees.

We use Caswell Corporate Coaching Company in Ottawa for our planning meetings; you may find consultants and facilitators of similar value in your area. If you are looking for referrals for similar services, you can seek referrals from your key larger clients, check with your specialty trade organization or group, or use your business network.

Our budget/business plan includes two meetings annually; the annual planning and budget meeting and a mid-year review.

Today, I'm flying to Toronto and driving to Niagara College in St. Catharines Ontario to work on a feature profile for the upcoming issue of Ontario Construction Report.

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