“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”
– John M. Richardson, Jr.
Every year around this time magazines, newspapers, cable channels and social media outlets are filled with predictions, prognostications and pronouncements regarding the immediate future, the next 12 months. Everything from politics to entertainment to social trends to technology to business is covered. And everyone and anyone can make a prediction regarding the immediate future, from professional Futurists to the Farmers Almanac writers to fortune tellers at the side show to the average person with a following on Facebook. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are close but most often they are wrong. And in most cases being wrong affects no one, unless you rely on professional Futurists (governments, multi-national businesses, financial markets) or the Farmers Almanac (farmers, ranchers, agricultural specialists). Then being wrong about the immediate future can be catastrophic.
But what about you, are you someone who tries to predict the future? If you are a successful business leader you spend much of your time doing just that, trying to predict the future.
When it comes to the future, especially the future of your business, successful business leaders don’t let things happen nor do they wonder what has happened, they make things happen. They do the following:
- Develop a Business Plan for the coming year – this could include developing new markets for existing products or services; expanding manufacturing/production; introducing new products or services; considering acquiring complementary or competitive companies; improving in areas that underperformed in the prior year, such as, customer service, brand awareness, talent acquisition and retention; sales; referrals and bottom line profitability and increasing shareholder value.
- Develop a Workforce Plan that supports the Business Plan – They seek the answers to the following questions. Can the goals from the business plan be met or exceeded with existing staff? Is every department upgrading their talent pool that will give the company a distinct competitive advantage? Do you have “A” players in every position? How far in advance do you need to be sourcing and screening for the talent that you will need? Is your company’s talent pool deep enough to allow for unexpected talent shortages? How scalable and flexible is your company’s talent acquisition process? Do you have outside resources that can be brought in to support your plan (such as a Managed Recruiting Services firm)?
- Modify, Change and Scale both plans – Business plans and the workforce plans that support them are not cast in stone nor are they written once and put on the shelf never to be seen again. Both plans are living, breathing dynamic documents that reflect the state of your business at a certain point in time. Successful business leaders know this and are constantly monitoring on at least a weekly basis the actual data and comparing it to the plans. Change is inevitable.
- Plan for the next year – Sometime in the eleventh month of the company’s business year, successful business leaders will begin to plan for the next twelve months. They will review and analyze the activity from the current year and put a plan together and try once again to predict the future.
Successful business leaders don’t need a crystal ball to predict the future, at least not the future of their business. They need a plan that is realistic and manageable. Are you one of those business leaders?
By the way, if you are wondering who the fortune teller is pictured above, that is Murray, our company’s head of business development. He told me that the deal that has been pending since last April will definitely close in February. Should I believe him or should I look for someone with a much clearer crystal ball?