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Last Update: Thursday July 9, 2020

Key Idea: Work Your Plan

Host Hattie Bryant discovers that Howard Kent believes in a written plan of action.

Key Question:


You heard Howard talk about discipline, and how important he thought it was for a business to understand how it intended to implement its plan and then to stick to it.

Q: How does a small business stay focused on its plan?

A: We've all seen the "Plan Ahead" sign where the letters are not spread out evenly and the "ead" at the end of the sign is scrunched together and curves downward. We recognize the importance of planning in our businesses. We develop budgets, marketing plans, financing plans, and strategic plans, to name just a few. But as Howard aptly points out, planning is only half the battle. We have to execute or implement the plan, and we have to establish the measurements and metrics necessary for us to monitor our performance against the plan.

There are two things you can do to ensure you are working your plan:

First, make sure your plans are sufficiently detailed to compare actual results with planned results. Let's say you have a marketing plan that includes a goal to increase sales by 5% the next year. When you are 6 months into the year, and sales are up 2%, all you know is you need to pedal harder. But if, as you planned, you included the activities you would undertake to result in a 5% increase in sales, e.g.: Conduct three direct mail campaigns with existing customers Contract with a telemarketing company to generate 50 new leads a month Hire one additional outside sales person Establish relationships with 4 independent reps offer a 2% discount for all sales greater than $5,000 Imagine the above coupled with a timeline, a cost budget, and the anticipated effect on sales. Now that would be a plan!

Secondly, involve all the people charged with the responsibility of executing the plan in a quarterly meeting for the purpose of comparing actual results with the plan. Drill deep in this meeting on all aspects of the plan, paying special attention to any area where actual results are lagging planned results. Foster a collaborative environment when things aren't going as well as planned. Was the plan overly optimistic in the first place? Have external factors changed since the plan was first developed? Is there any way the members of the group can work together to get back on track?

Think about it

What kind of planning efforts do you have in your business? Are your plans sufficiently detailed that you can accurately monitor actual results compared to planned results? How do you use plans, once they are developed? Do you have the right people involved in "working the plan?"

Clip from: Ironbound Supply

Newark, New Jersey: Meet Howard Kent and his team at Ironbound Valve Actuation. Like most of us, he learned his lessons the hard way. He now says, "Plan your work. And, work your plan, so . . . when you do succeed, it's not by chance and it's not by luck; it's just that you followed your game plan."

As you can well imagine, to go global, Howard constantly streamlines his systems with a mixture of old technology and new.

Go to the key ideas of this episode...

Ironbound Valve Actuation

Howard Kent, Chairman, CEO, founder

146 Jackson Street
Newark, NJ 07105

Visit our web site:

Office: 9735895209

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1966

Work Your Plan

HOWARD: Plan your work and work your plan, so that if you plan to do something, how are you gonna do it? You have to implement it. So if you plan it and then you work at your plan, when you do succeed, it's not by chance and it's not by luck; it's just that you followed your game plan. And it takes a lot of discipline to follow through on it. You make a lot of mistakes. You may go ahead and think what you're doing is correct, and only to find out you've dead-ended yourself and it cost you a lot of money. But you hope to learn by that discipline.

I mean, I've been in business for 30 years. Besides being older, if I went in business today, the only advantage I'd have is all the acquired knowledge I have today over then, so I know I could be successful today because of the acquired knowledge.

HATTIE: And that knowledge came from failure, some.

HOWARD: Oh, a lot of failure.

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