A Solid Game Plan: The Entrepreneur’s Ace in the Hole

Picture this… you are the captain of a top football side, about to play in a crunch game against your bitter rivals, in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League. Winner takes all, moves on to the final and has a chance to lift the most prestigious cup in European football (hopefully I haven’t lost all the non-sporting readers, this is going somewhere, I promise). You would never go into these monumental ties without understanding everything about your opponent, factoring in the weather and pitch conditions, predicted their starting lineup and shape, and where their biggest threats and weaknesses lie. You would forecast where they would be vulnerable, where you would be vulnerable and where each of you could see success. Right? Of course. With such high stakes, how could you not?

If we can all see how important this is for football, surely we can appreciate a game plan in the context of our lives and our businesses? Just like in the beautiful game, we will be confronted with obstacles, threats, and opportunities to exploit.

Having a game plan, that is focused, well researched and measurable is a valuable asset for a business of any size to succeed.

A Clear Strategy is Essential

While a game plan outlines the general idea of how to operate the business, target clients and delivers results, a strategy dives deeper in and focuses on the specifics to success. If your game plan is to focus on a successful product line to increase brand awareness and sales, the strategy would outline how to achieve that. It could cover everything from the products R&D, packaging, marketing, and distribution. The best strategies are those that are flexible, as a strategy that is all or nothing can be overly risky and not anticipate factors out of a business’s control.

Establish Clear Goals and Objectives

Your game plan is not set on a linear path. You do not measure the start and then the finish. There are touchpoints and events along the way that track the progress and effectiveness of the game plan and these should be based around goals and milestones.

When your goals are being met, you are on track. When they are not being met, your game plan is not effective and evaluation as to why is needed. Milestones help you tick boxes along the way, form part of the strategic planning to achieve your game plan and are an important indicator of success. Use them.

Execution

The game plan is useless unless it is executed as planned and on time. Ensuring that a game plan is well executed is a balance of planning, timing, measuring and implementation. These factors need to be in harmony for perfect execution. For a business, it would entail market and economy analysis, marketing campaigns and strategies, and tools to measure the effectiveness of the execution.

Evaluation

All gameplans have a beginning and an end, and with an end comes the need to evaluate the plan, in its entirety and thoroughly. Did the gameplan work as planned? Where did you experience unforeseen obstacles and opportunities along the way? Where the foreseen obstacles and opportunities according to plan? Your evaluation needs to serve a purpose at the end of the day. It should not only measure what worked, but what didn’t. This will prepare you to tweak, overhaul or abandon your gameplan. If everyone had a good gameplan, the business world would be easy. There is no failure in abandoning a gameplan that isn’t working. The true failure is continuing on down a hopeless path with no plan on how to change the result.

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