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Now imagine that their coach has no game plan – he has never analysed their competitors, has no idea of his own side’s strengths and weaknesses, and has no tactical strategy. What is the likelihood of this rugby team winning any matches?

Just as sports teams need a proper game plan, successful business owners need an annual plan to guide their growth focus on main priorities, track their progress and manage their resources.

Says Jannie Rossouw, head of Sanlam Business Market: “An annual game plan is critical to the success of any business. It allows you to move proactively towards defined objectives, rather than just react to business events. You can focus on priorities, and allocate limited resources where they will do the most good. You can embrace your strengths, and move away from your weaknesses. You can track your progress towards goals, measure results, and manage the business.”

A business game plan should not be confused with your original business plan, however. “Whereas your business plan got you in the game, a game plan keeps you in the game,” says Rossouw. “To continue the rugby analogy, it’s easy to see how you’re going to win the game from the locker room (your original business plan), but you also need to have a plan that takes into account what actually happens on the field once play starts. Your game plan is the deciding factor between your business growing and succeeding, or not.”

Because it involves thoroughly reviewing every aspect of your business – down to the smallest detail – a game plan allows you to improve your business performance, exploit opportunities, identify threats and continually improve market share, volume and profitability.

Drawing up a game plan includes the following steps:

  • Looking back over the past year and recording both what worked and what didn’t work
  • Reviewing your market to obtain in-depth knowledge of your customers
  • Assessing your products or services and matching them to your customer needs, reviewing your quality control, and reviewing your pricing
  • Conducting a competitor analysis to thoroughly understand your competition
  • Updating your marketing plan to boost your sales and increase your profit margins
  • Giving your sales plan an overhaul
  • Reviewing business trends in your industry to ensure your business stays relevant
  • Conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis
  • Reviewing your business systems for success and sustainability
  • Reviewing your technology and finding the right technology solutions for your business
  • Evaluating your website, which is a reflection of both you and your business
  • Reviewing your customer service
  • Reviewing your business premises
  • Reviewing your people – your employees and your management team
  • Revisiting your vision, mission and goals
  • Examining your financial management, cash flow and working capital
  • Ensuring your disaster recovery plan is up to date
  • Reviewing your personal financial planning.

 

“Your business truly is the sum of all its parts. If you only focus on the big things like your financials, you will not be successful if, for instance, your website is out of date, if you don’t know how your customers’ needs have changed, or if your marketing is stuck in a rut and ineffective,” says Rossouw.

He says the best time to prepare your game plan is at the start of your fiscal year. Other occasions that call for an immediate update include losing or acquiring a key account or client, the appearance of new competitors, not meeting financial projections, key projects falling behind schedule, a shift in technology, sagging employee morale, and uncontrollable business growth.

To assist business owners in drawing up a business game plan, Sanlam Business Market recently launched the Sanlam Annual Business Game Plan for Success e-book, which provides an easy and straightforward framework for laying out a well-crafted plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

The Sanlam Annual Business Game Plan for Success e-book is available to business owners free of charge, and can be downloaded via on Sanlam’s website here. For further information, contact Sanlam at 0860 100 539.

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