Six Simple Questions To Guide Your Business Plans : Under30CEO Six Simple Questions To Guide Your Business Plans : Under30CEO
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Six Simple Questions To Guide Your Business Plans

| April 17, 2013 | 2 Comments

6 Questions For a Simple Business PlanWhile the key factor in winning is the ability to stick with your plan, it makes sense that you start with the best plan possible. Our experiences working with clients on strategic planning and execution indicate a direct correlation between the simplicity of a plan and the chances of adhering to it. A theme we hear over and over again is, “Give us three steps, and we will knock ’em out. Give us a three-ring binder, and it will sit on the shelf.”

It is important to start with a simple, clear, and well-thought-out plan, whether you are developing a corporate strategic plan or setting your department’s strategy. Why stack the odds against yourself with an overly complex or unclear plan? Our goal is to have clients articulate their plan in a just few pages. A sound plan and a simple plan are not mutually exclusive.  If you are going to work on a plan, your plan should work for you.

Management journals, books, and articles are filled with countless approaches to strategic planning. The definitions for the various components of a strategic plan can be debated endlessly—a vision versus a mission, initiatives versus tactics, goals versus objectives. So rather than use valuable client time debating definitions or working through a maze of terminology, we cut through the clutter by answering six simple questions about your business or team (depending on your level in the organization). Think of these questions as the “CliffsNotes” version of planning. Develop clear answers to these questions, and you’ll be off to a strong start. Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the questions. They require deep thought, good supporting data, and honest discussion in order to articulate concise answers. And remember, the questions apply to leaders of an organization, a regional office, a department, or a small team.

Just as we should spent more time adhering to our plans instead of obsessively tweaking them, our new book spends one chapter on developing a good plan and the rest is one adhering to it.

Here are the Six Simple Questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. Where are we going?
  3. How will we conduct ourselves?
  4. What will we do?
  5. How will we measure our success?
  6. What improvements or changes must we make?

The Simple Six in Action

Now that you’ve seen the questions, let’s take a look at how a worldwide manufacturer of golf clubs might answer the simple six questions to develop a strategy:

1. Why do we exist?

To bring confidence and winning strokes to golfers across the globe.

2. Where are we going?

We will be a trusted club in the golf bag of 75 percent of the world’s ranked professional golfers.

3. How will we conduct ourselves?

• Innovate in all we do—the big ideas and the little ideas.

• Respect our teammates and the profession we serve.

• Pour our hearts into our work. Every club is a reflection of us.

4. What will we do?

• Penetrate new markets.

• Boost brand exposure.

• Drive organizational efficiency.

5. How will we measure our success?

• Penetrate new markets

  • Increase sales from $5 million to $10 million in China and Japan.
  • Increase sales by 15 percent in the European market.

• Boost brand exposure

  • Achieve number 1 or 2 ranking in all professional player surveys of best brand of clubs.
  • Triple the number of brand impressions in Asian markets by year-end.

• Drive organizational efficiency.

  • Reduce manufacturing waste by 10 percent by year-end and by 20 percent over three years.
  • Reduce expenses as a percent of sales by 5 percent by year-end and by 15 percent over three years.
  • Improve average employee engagement score to 4.5 by year-end and to 4.8 (top 1 percent in industry) in three years.

6. What improvements or changes must we make?

• Penetrate new markets

  • Hire new sales leaders for Asia and Europe.
  • Double pipeline of player endorsements in Asia and Europe by year-end.

• Boost brand exposure

  • Sign three new sponsorship deals with top 100 ranked players by year-end.
  • Double the number of tournaments for which we are a primary sponsor.
  • Sponsor 10 junior golfers’ clinics in each geography.

• Drive organizational efficiency

  • Train all employees on innovation techniques.
  • Review lowest-performing products.
  • Implement passionate performance engagement model to drive employee engagement.

Answering these questions (and making corresponding budget adjustments) will get you started with a solid plan you can adhere to.


Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. and Julie Davis-Colan are leadership advisors.  Colan also authored 12 books and this is an excerpt from his latest book that he co-authored with Julie Davis-Colan, Stick with It:  Mastering the Art of Adherence.  Learn more at

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Category: Startup Advice

  • RemarkableInterviews

    These are simple questions that if answered correctly could lead to great improvment.

    For writing a Business Plan I would suggest a book that I’ve used myself and I find well done: “Successful Business Plan” by Rhonda Abrams


  • Julie Dawn Harris

    Answering this six simple questions will make you summarize of the purpose of your business, how to achieve your goals and what should be done to achieve this. Great thoughts. These are very nice questions. With this, you will know if your company is still on the right track or not. :)