By Jim McGrann, Chairman and CEO of Healthy Eyes Advantage

As the team here at Healthy Eyes Advantage busily works to plan not just for the year ahead but also for the next few years, I find myself reflecting on the planning process and how businesses of all types and sizes — including independent eye care practices — benefit from taking the time to engage in both short-range and long-term planning.

I read a great article by James Allen from Bain & Company entitled “The Changing Nature of Strategy: Reflections on Thirty Years” Allen notes that strategies are about choices, but “a good strategy helps you decide what to do and how to prioritize between two or more options. It determines the best resource allocation to increase the value of the business.” He continues that a critical step is to focus on the core business in order to grow sustainably and profitably; only one in 11 companies achieve that, he says. These three questions are key.

  1. How can we lead in our core business?
  2. What are the biggest threats to the core business over the next decade, and what can we do now to start responding to these threats?
  3. How can we manage the complexity of execution?

Embrace The Process

Many business owners are intimidated by the planning process, especially in an evolving eye care market facing disruptive forces. Those who devote time and thought to the questions above are much better equipped to withstand market headwinds and capitalize on tailwinds than those who don’t have a plan and are left simply to react as change occurs around them.

The Annual Plan

Developing an annual plan does not have to be a complicated process, and it doesn’t require a crystal ball. Start by identifying four goals you’d like to achieve over the next 12 months and assigning one to each quarter. If appropriate, you may want to break each goal into three parts, thereby giving you monthly targets. It’s a consistent and easy way to measure if you are on track to meet your goals. Since many goals will extend beyond a single quarter, you’ll be monitoring more than one goal at a time.

The Three- (Or Five- Or Ten-) Year Plan

Planning for one year is wise, and looking farther out on the time horizon is even better. Your long-range plan can provide a basic road map of what you want to achieve over a designated timeline. Each year’s annual plan can then be used to fill in the details for ensuring incremental progress toward fulfilling the larger aim.

Continuous Monitoring And Refining

The most important part of any plan is that it not be devised and then placed on a shelf and forgotten. All too often, that’s what happens with the hustle and bustle of managing day-today operations. Consider scheduling time on a monthly or at least quarterly basis to review your results and compare them to the annual goals. It’s OK if every goal isn’t fully met in the timeframe originally planned. The important thing is forward progress and making small tweaks as you go. At the end of the year, it’s often too late to change course effectively.

Every business’s plan will be different, so there’s no one way to go about it. But committing to the planning process is a smart investment of time and effort. If you have already developed a plan, congratulations. Keep up the regular review and assessment. If you don’t have a plan yet, there’s no time like the present to develop one. HEA is here to support every one of our members in maximizing your success and achieving your strategic goal.