‘How answering eight questions creates the best plan on the planet! Oh, yeah, it’s on two pages….’ 2.
Ever felt overwhelmed at the idea of creating a business plan? Maybe you don’t have a clue where to start. Like what questions should I be asking? Who should I include in this process, and will we ever use it?
Maybe you have created a business plan and tried to make it happen and failed. You spent countless hours and detailed out all kinds of great ideas. You have a 20 to 30-page document that, if you could get everyone on board, would change everything in your business and each other lives. But it didn’t happen…It was never realized and failed at the starting line.
If you are like most entrepreneurs, you know that a business plan would be helpful if you could build one that was proven to work, had the right people included in creating it, and knew exactly how to go out immediately and begin to implement it.
Regardless if you’ve failed in never creating a business plan or have completed one and failed in seeing it executed, I have good news for you. There is a proven process for creating a business plan the is simple and becomes shared by all in the company.
The Vision Component in EOS is where this is strengthened. The Vision Component is all about answering two big questions, #1 ‘Where are we going?’ & ‘How are we going to get there?’ as a leadership team and then getting every single person in your company sharing it exactly the same way the leadership team agrees on it. 100% company buy-in to the Vision and Plan.
When implementing EOS, I walk entrepreneurial leadership teams through a series of 8 questions on 2 pages, called a Vision Traction Organizer or ‘VTO’ for short. That’s right, 2 pages. A 2-page business plan that involves everyone in an entrepreneurial leadership team. (For more on an entrepreneurial leadership team and Accountability Charts, see Link) I am now going to walk you through the 8 questions.
Table of Contents
1st Question: What Are Your Core Values?
Core Values are 3 to 7 traits that make up great people in your company. These are the right people to have on your team. If people don’t meet these core values, we don’t hire them. Period. If people we already have on our team don’t meet these Core Values, we fire them. Period. Core Values are magnetic, attracting the right people, and repelling the wrong people.
Pro-Tip: If you have Core Values up on your walls and website for everyone to see, but your leadership team does not live by them, hired by them, and when necessary, fire by them, you should strongly consider taking them down, re-establishing them again with your leadership team and then do the hard work to hire, fire, and lead/manage/hold accountable your people to them. If you don’t, your best people will leave you with the ones you knew a long time ago you should have fired.
2nd Question: What Is Your Core Focus?
An entrepreneurial company’s Core Focus is its soul. It answers two questions; why do we exist, and what is our niche? These two answers combined serve to create a company sweat spot to stay laser-focused on hitting with everything you do and to be a filter when not hit in the sweet spot to identify any people, process, or product issue emerging that needs to be addressed so that you can stay in your sweet place consistently. This clarity and commitment to stay focused creates the courage to shut out everything else that is a distraction to this focus, competency to be masterful at this focus, and become confident experts in execution day in and day out. It propels you towards the future in a more enjoyable way, which is faster than you thought possible.
The why is the side of your sweet spot is beyond money, it’s way bigger than what you do. Most of the time, you don’t even know what a company does when it’s answered. It’s your companies purpose, or a cause, or a passion. It could be a purpose to solve a big industry issue, a cause to change the way things are done, or a passion to build a great company.
The what side of your sweet spot is your superior skill set in the marketplace that creates a distinctive niche and clarity for your people, and everyone involved with your organization, including, partners, collaborators, clients, customers, and service providers.
Pro-Tip: Don’t shy away from getting absolutely clear on these two questions because you have a bunch of wrong people on staff, and issues relating to executing on your Core Focus. Strip all of your current issues away and step outside of them and get absolutely clear on these.
Once these two Core Questions are answered we now know two essential things about ourselves and those with whom we involve with this company; #1 – Who we are and who should become part of what we are doing and #2 – why we are doing what we are doing and what is it we are all about doing together.
Everything related to people, processes, and products are now issues for your issues list, that at some point in the future, you will determine when will be addressed and solved forever.
3rd Question: What Is Your 10-Year Target?
This is the long-term, 10 years out, target that you and your leadership team want to make happen. It is, as Jim Collins in Good to Great calls it, a “BHAG”, a Big – Hairy – Audacious – Goal that will compel you and your team to stay focused on the journey for 10 years. If it doesn’t have this ‘whoa’ factor, it’s not going to keep you fixated on it for 10 years and you will chase and/or pursue other ideas. Sadly, that’s when entrepreneurs get bogged down in the day-to-day and stuck with no clear, quantitative, and qualitative goal for the company that they created out front and center compelling everyone to grow and change.
Like the Core Values and Core Focus, this has nothing to do with the current status of the company and its people. This is all future-oriented and what you ‘want’ regardless of the current circumstances. When Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS, began the process of building a community of EOS Implementers to impact the world outside of Southeast Michigan, he had worked with less than 75 companies total over a 5 year period on his own.
Outside of him and co-founder, Don Tinney, and Don didn’t have any clients yet, there were no other EOS Implementers in the world, yet the 10 Year Target for EOS Worldwide (Funny name too, considering right?) was 10,000 companies running on EOS. You know what….they did it. Want to know and use the same blueprint that they had to make all of that happen? If you’ve answered these first three questions you’re almost halfway there already. We’ve got 5 more questions to ask for you to have used the same blueprint Gino and Don used to build EOS World Wide into what it is today.
4th Question: What Is The Marketing Strategy?
The marketing strategy is answering for simple questions. Number one who is our ideal client? The demographic, geographic, and psychographic profile of our ideal client. These are the people that we love to work with and who love to work with us. We don’t need everybody to become a client, and we don’t want them all to be a client, so we’re only going to focus on the ones we want to work with.
This creates an immense amount of freedom and clarity so that we are free from serving focusing on and marketing to clients that we hate to work with. Releasing those people solves a multiplying issue inside an entrepreneurial company, clearing the space for great clients that will propel us into the future and collaborate with us on the road to the 10-Year Target.
Bad clients or clients we don’t love to work with don’t care about us. They don’t care about what our core values are or what our core focus is. There’s three options for bad clients, number one we fire them, number two we raise prices on them, number three we stop giving them proposals.
The next question inside the marketing strategy is what are our three unique’s what are the three things that we do and we deliver on that make us unique in the hearts and the minds of our ideal client, the ones we love to work with. I like to say what would Hopps say that the company can deliver on and get agreement from that group and go have marketing tell the client we love to work with those three things. This exercise alliance operations those being the one to actually provide the product delivered the service and are responsible for customer satisfaction with the marketing leaders and team.
When this happens your clients become your marketers because they’re experiencing your three unique’s they love to work with you you love to work with them and they love to tell the world about how you’re making their lives better compared to all others in the marketplace, distinguishing you and bringing authenticity to your company and the services and products you provide.
The third question in the marketing strategy is what is your proven process? This is a step-by-step process that your client the sales and marketing team operations team and the finance an admin team are all aligned on and is proven to produce a result that everyone wants this also helps is clarify if we’re talking to a potential client whether their ideal or not do they do for her to our services do they want to experience what we provide a proven process doing sell illuminate confusion ambiguity timeliness of deliveries and what it is each person and client wants when they engage with us.
The last question in the marketing strategy is what is our guarantee? I guarantee or a pledge is something that we promised to our clients that we will deliver on what we tell them we will deliver on or it will hurt us and not them. Remember Dominos pizza guarantee back in the 80s and 90s? 30 minutes or it’s free! Think about Jimmy John’s sub company.There’s isn’t a guarantee so much as a promise “freaky fast”. Think about that for a second, these are two companies that deliver food. What’s not inside their guarantee or promise? The quality of the food, it’s all about the timeliness of it and if they don’t deliver on that timeliness it hurts them.
5th Question: What Is The 3-Year Picture?
This is answering the question of what does this company look like three short years from now on the road to hitting the 10-Year Target. This is not what do we think we can do in three years, this is because we’re going to hit this target in 10 years what will this company look like three short years from now. This is still vision, but we’re driving it down to the ground. We’re asking what’s the revenue, what’s the net profit, How many people are in the organization now, how many locations do we have, what’s this place look like? Describing it in 10 to 15 bullets, painting a vivid picture of the future so that people can see a new and different company in cats vision themselves for a future within the company.
This is the last question on the vision page of the VTO. A big pro tip for my visionaries out there about the vision page, you are to take your ideas, relationships, research, and development, big sales, and culture roles in the Visionary seat and spent time living out, embodying, and laying the groundwork for the company to go into the future. This is now the work that you are to spend 80% to 100% of your time weekend and week out pursuing working on the business.
We now move to the Traction page which is the responsibility of the companies integrator to make the vision happen, answering three simple yet profound questions they create discipline and accountability for the company to move at a pace and cadence that produces the results the team needs to constantly be living out and moving towards the company’s vision. Answering these next three questions drives the vision down to the ground and producers, Yep you guessed it, kind of corny I know, Traction. Here’s why I have no problem saying it, this freakin’ works! Let’s go!
6th Question: What Is The 1-Year Plan?
Driving that through your picture down to the ground, we create a 1-Year Plan for the organization we set a date, answer the question of what’s the total revenue, what’s the net profit, how many full-time employees do we have, maybe some other metric that we want to measure. Then we set out to determine the companies 3 to 7 goals for the year. Not 23 goals that 15 goals, less is more. What would make for an amazing year in the history of this company? What 3 to 7 things could we bring the whole company together to do to put us on track it’s looking like the company we want to look like in three years? Once the Leadership Team has answered those questions we will have the1-Year Plan.
7th Question: What is our 90-Day World Priorities aka ‘ROCKS’?
Now that we have a one-year plan we must use that one year plan and all of the companies issues short term and long term to set the company up for success by putting it into a 90 day world with 3 to 7, same as the one year, priorities, we called them rocks. Same as the 3-Year, same as the 1-Year, We answer what’s the date, what’s the total revenue, what’s the net profit, how many full-time employees we’re gonna have, and then creating a laundry list of potential rocks we discipline and refine that list down to 3 to 7 creating organizational prioritization and clarity driving at the most impactful things we can do to move us along, help us stay focused, and keep us on track to hit in the 1-Year Plan.
8th Question: What Are All The Long-Term Issues?
When everything is important, nothing is important. We cannot solve every issue that faces the company at the same time. Once we have decided on the company’s 3 to 7 rocks for the company and 3 to 7 for each individual divisional leader the rest of the issues, although important, must be harnessed and procrastinated on for right now, ‘we’ve got bigger fish to fry’ as former EOS Worldwide Visionary, Mike Paton, so endearingly loves to say about issues.
Nothing builds more equity within a company than openness and honesty. The Issues List section of the VTO is brutally open and honest. The Leadership Team is standing united in front of the entire company, every 90 Days and simply laying out bare the current issues facing the company, acknowledging that these are in fact real issues that in the future must be solved and at the same time saying ‘not right now’.
We must stay focused on our current priorities so that we can build off of them and in the future deal with these issues. But they aren’t going away, we are not sweeping then under the rug, we will address these and solve them for the greater good of the company in the future.