Why Plan and Prioritise?

Why do most successful companies grow bigger and why do unsuccessful companies die away?

I have found that one of the things that sets the successful companies apart is the difference in planning. My experience working in both types of companies has shown me that successful companies plan for everything they do well in advance. They make mid-term plans spanning up to 3 years and long term plans spanning 10 years plus. They then prioritize the order which they want to achieve those plans. On the other hand, many unsuccessful companies rarely sit down and make mid and long term plans. They tend to focus on the day to day running of a business that was set up from a well thought out business plan. The plan soon becomes outdated and managing the business becomes a fire fighting experience.

The role of planning in running a business can never be emphasized enough in setting direction. As a business grows internally and the client base grows, it becomes more crucial to plan ahead to be prepared for the structural, organizational and cultural changes that come with growth. While running a business can be compared to going on a camping trip, planning can be compared to the preparation you make before you head out for your safari.

A big part of planning is to set priorities so that the business is clear on what to focus on at every stage and where to invest its resources. Priorities come along to show you what you must do first and how it will help. For instance, if your company has 10 products, then you must decide which ones are high up on the list and which ones are not. That then determines how much time and money is spent in marketing activities, R&D etc. Realistically, all the products cannot be a focus for the company at the same time because that stretches the team on the ground. In the same breathe, your stakeholders (investors, suppliers, customers, consumers, employees) get confused when you are trying to do too many things at the same time. A good way would be to prioritize 3 or 4 of the key products first, then once the target is reached for them, move on to the next set. A well known phrase used by many large successful organizations is “start less, finish more.”

Issues will always come up daily that require your “urgent” attention to be sorted out but that’s where prioritizing comes in. You already determined before-hand what you would consider as urgent, so you are able to deliberately ignore or re-direct issues to those who can deal with them. I realize that only 2 items are truly ever urgent out of every 10 issues that arise.

Avoid turning your business into a fire fighting training ground by planning ahead and prioritizing.

Joyce Njoroge – Marketing Manager