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How To Build A Business Plan With One Question

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

GAWDA member Airgas (Radnor, PA) recently announced the major news that it will undergo a leadership transition. Company founder Peter McCausland will take on the role of executive chairman of the board as EVP Mike Molinini steps into the role of president and CEO this August.

During Airgas’ recent earnings call, McCausland said, “This transition is a product of extensive leadership succession planning.” He added that the transition is “a natural result of the Board’s long-term focus on developing a deep management team and it represents the next step in the evolution of Airgas.”

As a business, it’s always ideal when you can move forward and grow on your own terms. In this case, Airgas clearly had a plan in place to help steer the company’s progress for years to come.

Whether it’s succession, sales or another facet of the business, a strategic plan can be a powerful business tool. Some organizations choose only to prepare a plan when required by an investor or bank—but as GAWDA members told Welding & Gases Today, having a plan can keep the business on track and making progress toward state goals.

In the strategic planning article “Working Your Plan,” Capitol Welders Supply (Baton Rouge, LA) Vice President Kelly Root shared the somewhat philosophical question at the foundation of his company’s business plan. “We approached our plan by asking ‘What would we want our business to look like if we floated off in a hot air balloon and landed seven years later?” he says. This one question allowed Capitol Welders Supply to visualize long-term goals, and then define a year-by-year plan to define the steps required to reach these goals, be they based in processes, technologies, finances, leadership or otherwise.

Root and Capitol Welders have found a great way to handle the challenge of business planning. Now I extend the challenge to you. If you floated off in a hot air balloon and returned seven years later…what would you want your business to look like?