Published on 26 September 2019
To create a successful and thriving business, planning is an essential skill. By creating a strategic plan for your business with a clear goal and steps to achieve it, you’ll give your business the direction it needs to grow. In a recent Hub Live, SmartHub Business Manager Elize Hattin sat down with Matthew Doyle to discuss how he strategises and plans within his own organisations.
Matthew Doyle is known as the World Changers Coach and has founded two organisations: Business in Bright Socks and Provider Academy. He is on a mission to empower purpose-driven leaders and entrepreneurs to change the world through holistic life, business and leadership coaching, consulting and chaplaincy. Alongside these organisations, he has also coordinated the JDRF One Walk Rockhampton, serves as the Chairman of the Jolly Rogers Fishing Club and is a Management Committee Member of Startup Gladstone.
With all his responsibilities, planning is very important to Matthew. “Over the long-term I’m probably guilty of trying to do too much without strategy, and it usually ends badly,” He said, “You have to have a strategy, whatever that looks like. It just needs to be a map from where you are now to where you want to go.”
Making your Strategic Plan
To start creating your plan, Matthew believes it best to start with the end in mind. “When I first got into coaching, one of the first questions I would always ask people was why does your business even exist? What are you trying to achieve here? And I was taken aback by how many people couldn’t answer that question. If we want to plan effectively, we need to start at the other end and work our way back. Whatever format your plan might look like, it’s always a case of let’s start at the end and step our way back to where we are today,” he said.
The “end” you pick depends entirely upon what your business goal is. This could be a revenue goal where you focus on making a certain amount of revenue, or perhaps you want an impact target, where to help a certain number of people within your business. Regardless of which end you pick, it can all become part of your business’s strategy.
Another way to come up with a goal and strategy is to research. A fantastic place to start is by looking broadly into your industry or sector to see what your competitors are doing. Businesses further on their journey can offer insight into what goals you may one day achieve and what things you may one day be able to do.
When conducting his own research, Matthew likes to search for online programs he can complete in order to help him achieve whatever task it is he’s having an issue with. “I’ve either hit a brick wall and I’ve got a problem, or I’ve got a goal that I’m not sure how to achieve. So, I’ll generally note down what it is I want to achieve and then I’ll either head to Google or I’ve got some certain individuals in the field that I already follow, so I’ll go find out what they said about the issue. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just need to model what works. But it depends on what challenge I am having and what thought process I’m going through,” He said.
Creating Great Goals
To create your strategic plan, having that goal or end in sight is key. This is why we need to create good goals using the SMART framework, where our goals are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time bound. A good goal needs to be relevant to the big picture and will help you get to that big picture. “If your goal isn’t specific, you’re shooting yourself in the foot, right? The man who aims for nothing will surely hit it,” Matthew said.
While your goal should be SMART, it’s also important to know why that is your goal in the first place. One of Elize’s favourite strategic thinking model for this is known as the Fivefold Why. Simply ask yourself why five times. “Why do you want to make $1 million? Because I want to make a lot of money. Why do you want to make a lot of money? Because It will make me not worry about money. Why do you want to stop worrying about money? Because I lack security. Why do you want to feel secure? Because it makes me feel free,” Elize explained. “Then you know the drive behind making $1 million is because you desire personal freedom.”
When using this Fivefold Why model, Matthew finds that sometimes the number of whys varies. “Through my research I’ve found the magic number is seven. Around four or five you begin to notice the shift between head and heart thinking, which is what you want. I’ve had people get three levels in and they go, “I don’t really know, I’m going to walk away from this now.” And it was probably a good move at that point. Sometimes you only go three or four levels deep before you realise your goal isn’t smart or relevant,” he said.
With a goal and strategic thinking in place, it’s finally time to create the plan from where you are to where you wish to be. “You’re now trying to map out the steps to get there,” said Matthew. “What works for me is I like to get in a room with a whiteboard and just write down a whole lot of ideas, and then you’ll try and plot those different ideas along a timeline. Suddenly you’ll find yourself with a guide, from where you are now, through all of the steps all the way to your goal. Then I’ll take it and I’ll do the little fiddly things to turn it into a to-do-list, breaking it down into an actual system that we’ll use to follow the plan through.”
A big part of creating the strategic plan is constantly analysing the goal. “You need to see how this fits with your goal, if it works in the big picture, what works together, those kinds of things. I work in a very linear fashion, so I’m always just trying to lock things into blocks and make sure there’s nothing lingering before I move onto the next task,” Matthew explained. “I’m a very visual person, so when we did my strategic plan, we ended up with effectively two different ascending pyramids that we work up. This is what we’ll do on the bottom level that will feed into the second and then into the third, which gets us to our big goal. What we’ve done is broken a bigger goal into two separate goals, and one strategic plan really has two.”
Creating your Action Plan
Breaking your goals into smaller tasks is a fantastic way to make them more manageable. A great way to do this is to break it down to daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly goals to achieve. This becomes the basis for your action plan.
“I try and look at the big picture, where we’re going, and then break it down into quarterly chunks. Where do I need to be here? When do I need to be at that point? And it all comes back down to that daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly for me,” Matthew said. “This is what we’re doing in this three-month chunk. What do I need to achieve this week to get to the next step? What do I need to achieve this month, and what do I need to do today to tick that off? And you evaluate that every single day to make it all work together.”
One strategy common among entrepreneurs is setting aside time every Sunday evening to plan the week ahead, and this is a strategy used by Matthew. “Sunday afternoon is generally my week ahead time, where I look ahead at the month. I’ve got a really good planner that has a weekly reflection and forward thinking, a monthly reflection and forward thinking and so on,” he said.
While Matthew’s preferred technology for planning is pen, paper and whiteboard, there are a number of more technological project management solutions on the market. “I moved onto Zoho One and their suite of products. There’s two different project management systems in there, which is where you effectively implement the step-by-step process of achieving your plans,” he said.
Another tool being developed by SmartHub member Phil Martin is called GamePlan, a piece of software that works similar to the whiteboard method. This tool is well suited to time bound projects such as event planning, which Matthew says he would use it for. “It would work well for this event coming up in two months’ time because it’s a set two-month process. It works really well and it’s a really cost-effective system as well.”
Help from the SmartHub
While strategic planning can seem like a daunting task, it’s something we use in our everyday lives – shopping lists, driving routes and to-do lists are also forms of strategic planning. All you need is a goal to focus on and the time to work out what steps to take to achieve that goal.
If you need help creating plans or thinking strategically about your business, or even help with market research, competitor analysis or how to access these tech tools, the Rockhampton SmartHub is the place to go. Simply get in touch via Facebook, email or come down to Customs House at 208 Quay St, Rockhampton to learn more about how the SmartHub can help advance your business.