Follow Up – Todd Speaks on Corporate Planning

Earlier this week, I gave a presentation on corporate planning as part of the B2B Solutions Group 3rd Wednesday Speaker Series.

Original Post: EVENT – Corporate Planning: A goal without a plan is just a wish

First and foremost, I would like to thank the members and attendees for their time and participation as well as my friends and family who helped me promote that event on social media.  None of this would be possible without you.


We covered a lot of ground on the topic:

  • Why businesses spend so much energy on planning?
  • How can you incorporate planning into your business?
  • What is strategic planning?
  • When to build an annual operating plan?
  • What planning tools and tactics can I use?

This is a very deep topic.  There is so much material here, I can’t cover everything in a single blog post.  Let me start by addressing a number of common pain points that were recurring themes in the survey results, Q&A, and conversations both prior to and after the event.

Does the strategy drive the vision and values or do the vision and values drive the strategy?

While I suppose it is possible to back-solve for the vision and values that match your strategy, I strongly believe that the vision and values must be the first step in Strategic Planning.  The vision and values are needed to focus the rest of the strategic planning process.

As I explained during the presentation, the vision and values are the DNA of your company. It directly represents who you are as a business owner and what your company is all about.  It not only says what you do, but more importantly implies what you are not willing to do and what you will not compromise as you develop your strategy, tactics, and execution.

Do not skip this step and plan on coming back to it later.   During the discussion in the room, we covered the differences in strategy between Toyota and General Motors and how that comes straight out of the values and company culture at the two companies.

Vision and values have other important roles to play outside of the strategic planning process.  The best example is what happens when companies (both big and small) end up in the deep end of the pool.  Every one of your employees and consultants are making decisions on a daily basis.  If the company properly lives and breaths its vision and values, it is the one thing these decisions makers can hang their hat on when they end up in a unique situation that was not covered in the training materials or the standard operating procedures. The example I used was how the the internal communications campaign that MGM Resorts developed in conjunction with its new 2017  marketing campaign helped employee’s at the Mandalay Bay Hotel focus on their guests during the tragedy in Las Vegas:   S.H.O.W. — Smile and greet, Hear their story, Own the experience, Wow the guest.

We also talked about the unintended consequences of treating your vision and values like wall paper and having what turned out to be a mis-alignment between the values and the strategy. The example there was Wells-Fargo.

I am a very small business with less than 10 employees. I’m overwhelmed.  How do I get started with Strategic Planning?

I have three thoughts here:

First, if you take nothing else away, you must incorporate this four-step iterative process into your business in some shape or form that fits with your capacity to plan: Planning –> Execution –> Evaluation –> Course Corrections –> and back to Planning.  With each cycle of this process, you’ve improved your business.  Maybe all you can handle is once a year.  Once a quarter is better.

Second, if you don’t have it, put together a business plan.  A simple 5-page word document (if you like to write) or 20-slide power-point  (if you like to draw) hopefully is not too much to accomplish.

Third, as the founder, owner, or key executive, focus on what you do best and develop a plan to gradually outsource everything else as much as your business will allow. You can’t afford to outsource everything as that would kill your margins.  Outsource what gives you the maximum time back to focus on your core competency per dollar spent on services.  Your core competency is what generates most of the value  for your company at this stage.  If your core competency is being customer facing (sales/customer service), work towards outsourcing your production.  If your core competency is production (service delivery, coding, product development), work towards hiring others for sales and marketing.  Having you perform functions outside of your core competency will never be strategic.  For many this is IT, legal, accounting, finance, human resources, or software development. Once these functions grow to a certain size, you can look at bringing them back in-house.

What is the best planning tool to use for small businesses?

Quality planning tools are expensive.  For small businesses, I recommend Microsoft Excel for the annual operating plan and Google Sheets for dashboards and scorecards.  Jirav is a nice entry-level solution for small business that need something more than Excel, but can’t handle the cost of ownership of the mid-market corporate planning packages.  My company is making Jirav available to clients using our CFO and Controller solutions for the remainder of this year.

More to come in future posts…


Want more tips like the ones above?


Resources and Links:

B2B Solutions Group

We work as a team to help small to medium sized companies deal with the most common challenges faced in business like growing sales, managing cash flow, reducing risks, etc. ​​



MGM Resorts Immediately Pulled Its First Brand Campaign After Las Vegas Shooting

Every employee received access to a hotline to resolve customer complaints on the spot, the ability to offer comps and the acronym SHOW as a customer service guide: Smile and greet, Hear their story, Own the experience, Wow the guest. That training helped some employees through this week’s darkest moments.

Source: Paterick, S. 2017.


Acuity Announces Pilot Program with Financial Planning Tool Jirav

Acuity accounting and CFO clients will gain free access to the Jirav Lite dashboard.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.