Imagine if you went outside your home and your neighbor was packing up their car with suitcases, clearly heading for some sort of trip. As a good neighbor you ask, “Where are you going?” to which your neighbor replies, “I don’t know." So you ask, “Ok, how long are you going to be gone?” He responds with “I don’t know that either." So you ask, “Well, who are you going with?” and again he says, “I don’t know." Finally you ask, “What are you doing?” and he responds with, "I’m getting in my car and I’m going to drive."
This may seem like a silly scenario, but many people and organizations operate in a similar fashion. Especially in the catering world, professionally they know how to cook or how to plan an event, so they just start catering without thinking about where they want to go, how long it will take or who they should bring with them. I know my father (founder of our business) was one of those people. Eventually he found his way and built a successful catering business, but it probably took longer than it would have, had he set out with a plan. This is precisely why it is so important to put together a strategic plan for your business each year.
There are many ways to go about creating a strategic plan, but the most important component is to have a solid understanding of where you currently stand. A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis done by yourself and some key members of your team is a great way to start. From there you can begin to focus your time and energy determining what the key initiatives and core focus will be for the coming year. Based on where you are, you can decide where you need to go.
I like to try to come up with 3-5 overarching goals that set the tone for the most important things the company should be working on. Those goals can then be broken down into multi-step action items that should be given time deadlines and delegated to various team members. The initial steps during this entire process begin with brainstorming, however good notes should be taken and converted into a formal document that can be shared with the entire team. This document also provides a terrific blueprint for your company to make decisions and operate throughout the year.
We recently spent two days with our executive team working on our 2016 Strategic Plan for Footers Catering and we all came away energized and excited about what we had come up with. It gave us a renewed sense of purpose and ensured that we were all rowing in the same direction heading into 2016.
I hope you take a moment and create your own plan or simply take an hour or two to write down your professional goals for 2016. Where are you going? and What do you want to accomplish? Because as they say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there."
As you know registration for the annual Catersource conference in March is now open and if you are interested in learning more about how to create your own strategic plan, I will be doing an in-depth seminar on how to create, implement and get buy in from your team on the strategic planning process. I hope to see you there.