Planning for growth is a critical activity for any stage of a business, but cumbersome plans bloated with exhibits and financial analyses won’t get you the kind of alignment and buy-in you need to execute the plan successfully. A good growth plan doesn’t have to be more than 15 pages.

A strong growth plan can be built with just the following components:

  • Executive summary (1 slide)
  • Recent results (1-2 slides)
  • Challenge statement (1 slide)
  • Goals, strategies, tactics overview (1 slide)
  • Strategic initiative #1 (1-2 slides)
  • Strategic initiative #2 (1-2 slides)
  • Strategic initiative #3 (1-2 slides)
  • Financial implications (1-2 pages)
  • Risks & contingencies (1 page)
  • Appendix (as long as you need it to be)
That’s it. Once you add a title page and agenda slides you’ll reach about 15-20 pages. Let’s go through some common objections you’re likely to hear:

Common objection #1: our situation is more complex than that

Yes, it probably is. We’re not arguing your entirely planning process will only involve creating 15 slides. The point is actually that your plan should be action-oriented and focus on the answer first, not the process you took to arrive at it. You might make 50 slides packed with analysis that inform the creation of your strategic growth plan, which is completely acceptable. You’ll probably want to throw 48 of them in the appendix and refer to them throughout your actual plan. But, tediously going through your analysis won’t get the rest of your company on-board. It will just bore them and bury the key takeaways you’re really trying to reinforce.

Common objection #2: the board won’t take our plan seriously if it’s that short

This just depends on framing the plan properly. If you involve your board in the planning process, communicate to them right away that the final plan will be very brief, but the planning process will involve quite a bit of analyses. And, if your board questions you throughout your presentation just point them to the appropriate appendix slide where they can dig in further.

Common objection #3: there’s much more analysis we need to do than can fit in 15 pages

We certainly hope so! The analysis isn’t the plan. The analysis sets your leadership team up to answer the question: given the state of our business, what do we need to do to hit our goals? Your plan should be the answer to that question (not an explanation of the analysis involved in understanding the state of your business and setting goals).

 

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