How to Balance Focus and Flexibility in an Agile Business PlanWritten by Mark on January 06, 2021
We live in a dynamic and constantly evolving digital age.
With the advent of technology and the growing integration of the world through globalization, it is all the more essential that businesses grow flexible and set goals that are adaptable with the times.
To make the best of your limited resources and make sure your business opportunities are not spread too thin, building an agile business plan can avoid the risks of negligence.
This is especially important for startups and smaller ventures in the current economic environment.
For example, a crisis can impact a business at any time (think: the rise of remote working due to the COVID-19). Unpredictable events can change the course of your long-term plans but how well prepared are you to meet your challenges head-on?
This is where the importance of balancing focus and agility as instrumental parts of your business plan come in. How do you identify market opportunities in a time of dynamic change?
How can you adopt a laser focus approach to your strategies while maintaining some capacity for flexibility in an efficient way?
This article covers the answers to these questions. So, read on to find out how to integrate agile, flexible and innovative elements into your business planning models.
What is agile focus?
Before we get started on the how-to of integrating these elements into your bigger strategies, let’s talk about what agile focus really means.
Agile focus is all about that fine line between having just enough attention to detail and laser focus on your goals while also maintaining the flexibility to better adapt in uncertain environments, in a way that advances your business objectives.
Agile focus involves being mindful and conscious of the environment you operate in and the external influences that can have a bearing on your business decisions.
By maintaining awareness of these forces beyond your control, you can build your knowledge and better equip yourself with viable market opportunities even at a time of unforeseen circumstances.
Thereby, having an agile focus strategy will strengthen your business plan and allow you to collaborate better.
Which results in allowing you to eliminate the risk of negligence and continuing to produce results at a time when the industry itself may be struggling.
In the context of the current pandemic, businesses that adopt an agile focus approach to their planning would be better prepared for such contingencies.
For example, those that adopted a remote-first work culture in this time were able to ensure their continued operations while saving costs as well.
Having agile focus as an element to your planning will help you optimize the use of your resources, as companies currently are in today’s environment with remote tools and thereby, avoiding the drawbacks of locking-in with limited business options.
Why an agile business plan is right for you
You might be wondering, “this sounds like a lot of work! What’s in it for me?” And while it’s fair for you to think that, it’ll pay off in the long run for you to go the extra mile during your business planning and invest more time in this area.
Here’s how having an agile business plan can benefit you.
Develop a better understanding of your customers
As you think ahead and keep a degree of flexibility into your business plans, you also account for the chance of potential customer problems and the space to address them.
By allowing lee-way (such as live-chat on your website) for your customers to express themselves and allocate resources to address their problems, your strategic goals will be better in line with customer satisfaction.
This helps keep your brand on the right path of customer-centricity.
Better internal and external communication
When you adopt an agile business plan, everyone has a greater picture of how the business will operate due to the bird’s eyes and laser focus approach it takes on.
And with clear and concise communication comes a thriving, transparent business.
But there is also a renewed sense of security in the contingency planning, making both employees and customers more faithful in your company and what it stands for.
By keeping your business plans high-level with in-built flexibility, there is more space for positive change and growth, even during challenging circumstances.
Culture of dynamism and innovation
Reprioritizing, re-evaluating, and constantly revamping your business goals and processes becomes a tradition in an agile business plan.
For example, with technology playing an instrumental role in business transformations, automation has become a cost-efficient opportunity for most.
It’s important to not let yourself become too complacent, especially given the fast-changing times businesses now thrive in.
To stay ahead of the curve, you have to adopt a culture of constant innovation and agile business planning can help get you there, if done right.
Set reasonable expectations with stakeholders
Depending on the type of customers you serve, the product/service you sell, and the industry you’re in, the timeline of your agile business plan may vary.
However, by establishing a planning horizon that is rooted in both focused strategies and the possibility for change, you can avoid overcommitment to stakeholders (both internal and external).
Source: Active Campaign
It also enables better planning within the organization, for example, during new product launches and hiring transformations.
It is important that you account for employee perspective throughout the process as well by gathering their feedback and integrating their ground-level knowledge into your plans.
Therefore, having an agile business plan will uplift your overall ‘roadmap’ for your business on a holistic level by aligning it better with your strategies in a way that ensures your business remains steady.
Designing your Agile Business Plan
There are three simple steps you can follow as you start to build an agile business plan that is equal parts focused and flexible.
1. Consistently research and look into additional market opportunities
Having back-up options is a stellar strategy to ensure your business never goes stale or gets locked-in if an unexpected scenario arises.
It’s important that you constantly assess the market you operate in and are on the look-out for value-adding growth opportunities that you can pursue either:
- a) if your current venture fails
- b) once your current venture ends
- c) in case of an unforeseen event
It’s like the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. You and your employees won’t lose sleep during stressful times if you have a number of potentially profitable market opportunities which can act as a safety cushion for your business.
Pro-tip: stay on top of popular trends in your industry through social media marketing and analysis tools.
Social media is a great way to tune into your customers’ psyche and build actionable insight into what they want to see from your brand.
Source: Velocity Consultancy
2. Make these opportunities relevant to your market and integrated with your USPs
The opportunities you identified in the earlier step should be related to the market you cater to.
That is, the resources you possess, your brand’s strengths and the current customers you have should all come together in the execution of this new venture.
The more in-line these back-up opportunities are with your business’ strengths and competencies, the more chances you have to succeed and keep your profits steady.
3. Identify the strongest backup and growth option
From the opportunities you have lined up, choose the one that adds the most value to your business.
This can be both monetary-wise and reputation/brand-image wise. Pit your preferred metrics against the opportunities and identify the one that has the most growth potential.
Keeping this option open at all times by allocating a minimal amount of ‘buffer’ inventory, resources and management focus to it can make sure you remain vigilant and keep your business open to positive growth opportunities.
Additionally, this doesn’t have to be invested in only in the case of a contingency. Execution of your back-up option can also be put forward after your current venture ends.
If this is the case, it’s time to start at step one again and look up another opportunity to keep in tow.
Integrating this flexibility and mindfulness into your business planning will keep you on your feet and fine-tune your strategies.
Stay sharp, stay flexible
Investing the time into your business planning models to integrate focus and flexibility will make your overall goals and processes agile and innovative.
Having an agile model will thus build your business to be robust and mitigate risk while balancing your greater goals and journey to fulfill your business objectives.
So what are you waiting for?
Stay sharp and focused as you continue your business journey by integrating these elements into your future planning.
Keeping your opportunities open in this golden era of technological innovation and fierce competition will ensure you stay ahead of the race.