Business Planning Thoughts and Tools, Part 1

Posted on 8/4/2016 by Steve Paddock


Some Thoughts and Tools to Help You Plan for Your Business



In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.


Here are five key reasons that businesses typically engage in planning efforts:

  • Map the future
  • Support growth and secure funding
  • Develop and communicate a course of action
  • Help manage cash flow
  • Support a strategic exit

… or as many business owners eloquently express it: So I can sleep at night.


Goals Come First  

Successful businesses and individuals know where they want to go and they direct their energy and resources toward getting there.  Clarity of both personal and business goals will help you evaluate options and choose opportunities that you decide will lead you to meeting your goals.  Unless you have clear goals, the Cat has it right:  “…it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

Write Down Your Goals

You may be comfortable thinking that you have your goals all worked out in your head, but goals take on an entirely different quality when they are written down in clear, simple language – preferably with some numbers included.  Here is an example of a powerful goal statement, “Within X number of years, I want my business to provide $XXXXX a year for family living.”   Find the numbers and language that fit with your goals, and then write them down.

Share Your Goals

It gets a lot more real when you share your goals with your spouse, partner, business advisor, lender, investors, and others who are part of your planning and support network.  Get feedback from others to help you sharpen your goals to make them most effective and meaningful to you and your business.

Update Your Goals

Of course, they change. Times change, you change, families change, your business changes.  Update your goals at least annually to ensure you are working with your most relevant dreams and objectives.

Next time, we’ll do Part 2 of Business Planning Thoughts and Tools. In the meantime, consider developing or updating your own goals now.

Steve Paddock is the Area Business Advisor for the Vermont Small Business Development Center. He can be reached via the ACEDC office at 802-388-7953.