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Planning for the future blog post

Planning for the Future: A Roadmap to Success

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If you’re cooking, you have a recipe. If you’re a builder, you have a blueprint. If you’re a teacher, you have a curriculum. If you’re in business and you don’t have a plan, how do you know where you’re going to go? How are you going to get your team to accomplish certain goals if you don’t have a roadmap? Without a plan, you are shooting arrows in in the dark and crossing your fingers that they hit the target. With the right plan, your business will be set up for success no matter what obstacles you face.

Here’s what you should know about creating a plan that will lead you to a bright future:

Vision vs. Mission

A vision and a mission are often hard to differentiate, but it’s important that you have both. They should be distinct, and you should be able to recite them. A vision is what you want your organization to look like. It gives purpose for your existence. Usually, it’s a short and specific sentiment. Your mission is the concise explanation on how you’re going to execute your vision. In today’s market you need a plan, but if you’re going to have people execute that plan, you need to have a vision. You got into this business for a reason, so your ambition should be known. As a leader, you want to hire people to execute that vision through your very intentional mission.

An Effective Plan has a Strategy

There are many components of an effective business plan, but there are a few critical pieces that will drive your business. Your plan has to have a summary and an intentional outcome. It should also look at the current state of the market and analyze your competitors. You should be clear about what your purpose is. Are you just selling hearing aids or are you selling a complete hearing wellness plan? No matter the case, you need to decipher what that means to you based on your vision and your mission. There’s also a financial component to your plan. Your pricing, expenses, revenue, and ultimately your profitability should be included. Lastly, you need to include your strategy. Is it a growth strategy? Is it a five-year exit strategy? Is it a maintenance strategy? Your strategy is the driver for how your plan will be executed. Even with every component accounted for, your plan can change. It should be reviewed regularly so you can adapt to keep reaching for your goals.

Good Goals are S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Goals are necessary for your plan, but how do you set the right ones for your practice? Maybe you want to grow your business by 20%, sell your business in five years, or even take more time off and see less patients. Whatever your goals are, you should be setting them based on the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

A good version of a plan has to have a motivational aspect. It should influence your team to execute your plan and increase performance. Is your goal attainable? You might have to make it more strategic and measurable to drive your team to feel like they’re a part of the goal. As a business owner and leader, you’re responsible for your team’s execution of the goal.

Goals should also be broken into short-term and long-term goals. Maybe your short-term goal focuses on tested-not-treated patients, but your long-term goals is to grow your business based on what you do in the short term. Both types should still follow the S.M.A.R.T. criteria and should be able to adapt along with your business and the market.

Obstacles are Part of the Plan

Obstacles are almost guaranteed to show up when planning for the future, but you can overcome them. One obstacle you might face is internal motivation. This is a rare time in the workforce when we have five generations working under one roof. Each of them marches to the beat of a different drum. Those who have been working for a while may be looking for long-term stability, but today’s new workforce is looking for a strong vision and mission. They want to know what your cause is. Other internal obstacles include your business processes, team recognition, training, and development needs.

External obstacles come from changes in the market like over-the-counter hearing aids, managed care, misinformation, and online shopping. If you don’t plan for contingencies and put yourself ahead of the curve, the market will dictate your future. If you plan ahead, you can help navigate these changes and modify your processes and behaviors to account for them. You can look at trends in your practice like cancellation rates, returns, and no-shows and use that data to get back on track. When it comes to obstacles, your patients will often be the indicators of what is wrong and how you can fix it.

A Good Plan Needs a Good Leader

Great leaders tend to have certain characteristics. Effective leaders are great communicators. If you cannot set an expectation to your team, how can you expect them to execute your plan? Overcommunicate your mission, vision, and your goal. A good leader is also prepared to lead by example. When you do see your team performing well, or when you see opportunities for improvement, you can create a learning opportunity and an opportunity for empowerment. A good leader will also recognize the type of leadership that is going to motivate their team in different situations.

To differentiate a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and a Chief Operations Officer (COO) can be difficult, especially in a small clinic setting, but it’s important to know what each role does. The CEO is more of the visionary. They set the tone for the practice and communicate what they want for the vision. The CEO is accountable for the long-term plan. The COO is the executor for the CEO’s vision. They are the realist that oversees how the business functions day-today. Business owners often wear both hats, so you need know when one hat is needed over the other. The COO keeps the team flowing and understands their practical limitations. They can analyze and make short-term adjustments. The CEO motivates and mobilizes people to get things done. They seek opportunities and take risks.

A Good Plan Needs a Team to Support It

Something that is often overlooked is what your team needs. It’s easy to be focused on seeing patients and not recognize what is happening with your staff in the office or on phone calls. You can look at all of the behavioral and financial benchmarks you want, but if you don’t provide your team with what they think they need to succeed, you are at risk for losing them. In leadership, you need to ask what tools your team needs to best succeed in their own tasks and goals, and that will support your goals. People may have different learning styles, and different needs, so one tool that works for someone may not work for someone else. If they’re aligned on what they’re trying to accomplish, you can figure out the best way to support them.

Once you forget that you have a team and a plan, you may as well put a closed sign on your door. You are only as good as your team. If you surround yourself with people who support your core values, training them to execute your goals becomes far less of a hurdle. If you don’t articulate your core values to your team and use them in your hiring protocols, then you can expect the performance you are looking for. It’s hard to execute your goal if you don’t have the right people in place, hire for values, and attitude and train for aptitude.

Planning for the future is a part of any successful business. Your plan creates the solid foundation to drive you and your team, and keeps you prepared to take on every phase of your business’s lifecycle. With a strong vision and mission, the right goals, and a supportive team behind you, you can create a plan that will lead you where you want to go.

At CQ Partners, we’re passionate about supporting practices in all aspects of their business, no matter what the goal is. With our industry-leading business resources and expert team, we can help you create a plan for the future you want.


About the Author

Barry Drogy

Barry Drogy is the Regional Sales Manager in the West. He returned to the company in 2020 after spending several years working as a partner in a large hearing aid dispensing practice. He has nearly 30 years of varied business experience in financial services, business consulting, private practice ownership, hearing aid retail, and investment management. Barry has helped business owners increase revenue and profitability significantly while coaching them from a startup to exit. There are two pillars of success that he has experienced with all of the practices he’s worked with: execution excellence and communication. Barry’s passion for success drives real results. By being the spark that ignites the belief that anything is possible and a CAN-I (Continued & Never-Ending Improvement) attitude, he has continuously helped teams exceed their goals and achieve success.