Business planning, karma and leadership

No one joins a creative agency because they have a passion for business planning. So it’s not a total surprise that it often comes well down the To Do list for busy management teams that have their hands full with client Effective-Business-Planhanding, news business pitches and people issues. But with the right approach and framework business planning can not only be motivating it can be good for your karma!

Running creative agencies can be stressful,.  The highs are very high and the lows can be very low. So tenacity is clearly an attribute that most successful management teams have in abundance. But a well structured, sensibly resourced and realistic plan gives you a clear framework within which you can effectively deal with the daily trials and tribulations of agency life. It really does reduce the need to be swan like – gliding along on the surface and paddling like mad underneath – and help assuage the constant low level anxiety that many directors feel.

Secondly, the right plan ensures that you are making decisions based on robust and actionable data. If you know where you are heading for the year, what you need to do to get there, who is going to do what and when, and how much it will all cost it takes much of the guess work out of agency management. This in turn aids investment decisions including recruitment and pay rises.

Lastly, the best business plans not only deals with the next 12 months but provides a vision for the future – say three years out. The ability to be able to ‘Inspire a Shared Vision’ is one of the core attributes of a good leader[1].  Creating and generating buy-in to a shared vision is a whole lot easier if you know where you want the agency to be in three years and can bring it life by sharing the detail such as client profiles, services being offered (including pans for the development and launch of new ones, critical to engaging prospective clients), staff numbers and brand positioning.

One of the other ideal attributes of a good leader is ‘Enabling others to Act’ and that is precisely what a good business plan does. The framework a plan provides ensures that all team members know what their contribution needs to be. Once personal objectives are connected to the business plan the circle is complete and the agency needs fit with the personal.

Agency People’s business planning process (developed in interactive workshops) combines three year vision development, success driver identification, plans to deliver each success driver and an overarching delivery plan that identifies ownership, resource and success criteria. All of which are easy to communicate to every member of the agency team.

So why not grab a cup of tea and take a few minutes to have a look at the questions below. If you get any more than three no’s out of six you may want to give me a call.


  1. Does every member of the team know what the agency’s financial targets are for this year?
  2. Would all the board articulate the same three year vision for the firm?
  3. Are the team’s six monthly personal objectives directly connected to the agency’s objectives as articulated in the business plan?
  4. Do you have a clear R&D programme for your services?
  5. Is weekend working a once a year occurrence for you and your team?
  6. Do all the team understand your three year vision for the agency?

[1] Kouzes & Posner