Time for Strategic Planning

Version 3
    Times are tough! The collapse in global financial markets has hurt almost everyone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is off 51% and the Standard and Poors 500 is off 48% from their highs. Investors have experienced 20 - 60% declines in their portfolios, at a time when many are contemplating retirement - many baby boomers can forget that idea for a while. The bigger problem is that returns since 2000 have been negative.

    Businesses are finding things more difficult as well. Revenues are down, but profitable is down even more, as the decline has been so quick that there has not been enough time to reduce expenses. A 30% decline in revenue can easily result in profit declines of 50 to 100% if not accompanied by aggressive reductions in expenses.

    At the same time, credit has become more difficult. Lenders, who got their fingers burned in sub-prime mortgages, have new controls and are being very careful lending money. Have you got a call from your bank yet to review your personal and business loans? You will.

    So what's the answer? Cut costs? Reduce staff? Convert your investment portfolios to cash? The answer is MAYBE but not before you have spent some time to answer three important questions?
    • Where are you now?
    • Where do you plan to be in the future?
    • How do you plan to get there?
    If you feel stressed and confused right now it is because you do not have clear answers to these three questions. Spend some time working on these questions and you will be able to reduce your stress levels and start making good decisions again.

    Where are you now?

    If you run a business, your accountant produces financial statements, annually. If you have investments, you get a monthly or quarterly statement. These tell you where you are today - well, at least part of the puzzle.

    Maybe it is time to take inventory. Sit down and do a personal net worth statement. If you run a business, take the time to do a complete and objective analysis of your business - what is working, what is selling, what is profitable, which employees are productive, which clients are profitable and what excesses need to be eliminated to get you back on track to your goals.

    Where do you plan to be in the future?

    Yogi Berra said "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."

    The problem, with the current economic conditions, is that many personal goals or business targets need to be reset because the former are now unrealistic. If your $100,000 investment portfolio has lost 40% of its value, it is unlikely that it will be worth $200,000 any time soon, even if you continue to believe your financial advisor, who is still asking you to "hang in there". If you want to reset your goals read Ed Easterling's book "Unexpected Returns - Understanding Secular Stock Market Cycles" or visit his website at www.crestmontresearch.com and prepare yourself for a Secular Bear or range bound market.

    If you want to get your personal finances or your business back on track, it is time for strategic planning - strategic planning for your business or strategic wealth planning for your personal finances.

    Maybe it is not the right time to reduce expenses but instead time to re-channel expenses to business development to take advantage of opportunities for expanding your business because your competitors have their heads in the sand. Maybe it is time to eliminate product lines that are not profitable and business expenses that support them. Maybe it is time to analyze your client base and disengage from unprofitable relationships and related expenses.

    How do you plan to get there?

    Once you have answered the previous two questions, you are not in position to look at the gap between where you are today and where you want to be and build a plan that gives you the highest probability of closing the gap.

    Hire a Strategic Planning Facilitator

    One thing is for sure - you don't need a consultant to come in and tell you what to do. You know more about your business than everybody else. Unfortunately, you may not be able to see "the forest for the trees" or you may not have a really good process for answering the three questions.

    You will read a lot about business coaches, as this is one of the fastest growing industries in North America. Before coaching comes facilitation. Facilitators help people develop strategic plans, strategic wealth plans and other plans like profit improvement, team development and succession. They ask you the right questions to help you get the right answers. They don't give advice.

    Make sure that your facilitator has a proven process. Facilitators cannot facilitate unless they have a process.

    If you want to make it through this difficult time, make sure you know the answers to three important questions:

    • Where are you now?
    • Where do you plan to be in the future?
    • How do you plan to get there?

    Until you are 100% comfortable with the answers to these three questions, you will be filled with fear, anxiety and frustration.

    About Us

    Synchronicity Business Coaching Inc. is the North American Master Distributor for HWL Innovation, a UK-based firm. We are currently seeking organizations or individuals interested in becoming regional distributors for products and services developed by HWL Innovation, the world's leading specialist provider of strategic growth, facilitation, planning and coaching solutions. HWL is owned by the Baker Tilly Group. Baker Tilly International is the world's 8th largest accounting network.
    The HWL solutions and methodologies are proven by extensive use around the world, with thousands of businesses and individuals. They use unique methodologies and proven principles, processes and products to help businesses and individuals achieve what they want in their businesses and personal lives.

    HWL's Complete Business Advisory Solution is a complete turn-key program that helps accountants facilitate strategic, wealth, succession and team plans and conduct coaching sessions. It has five product suites - Planning, Personal Wealth, Performance, Profit and People.