If you’ve been watching the developments in our local economy, you’ve seen some very encouraging signs that the Puget Sound area is faring much better than the rest of the west, or the country in general. But for most business owners, the urgent question is not “How well is the economy growing”, but “How quickly is my own business growing?”

If you want to include that topic on your summer reading list, you might like The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Business Growth by Steven S. Little (2005, John Wiley and Sons). In Rule 3, “Build an Effective Growth Planning System”, Little begins with an epigraph attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Plans are nothing, planning is everything.

You may or may not share my interest in history and how Ike helped shape it, but I think anyone, especially a business owner, can appreciate the point that’s being made. A plan is merely a snapshot, but a planning system is a means to continually chart your company’s course and navigate through changing conditions. However, for the Small-to-Medium Business (SMB) owner, it may seem time-consuming and burdensome to develop a planning process beyond the basic goals of growing revenue and profitability. Most of the books on the subject of planning seem to address formal, sophisticated Strategic Planning, requiring large amounts of data and sophisticated analyses that seem more suitable for a strategic planning staff than for hands-on business owners and their team. It can be difficult for SMB owners to develop a growth planning system that works for them.

The responsibility for growing SMBs has been at the center of my own work for over 24 years. I would like to address it in a series of short posts, beginning with some thoughts on how to develop and use a planning framework that is tailored to the needs of your SMB. I emphasize Develop and Use and Tailored to Your SMB because when growth planning works, it is a process that is continuously improved, it is an integral part of your business, and it reflects the needs of you and your team.

NEXT UP: Why take the time for Growth Planning?

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