Winning Strategies: 10 Reasons for Business Plan Failure

This is the time of year when many printing companies plan for the year ahead. While many companies put together an annual plan, there are many reasons why a plan might not be well executed. The 10 most glaring reasons follow.

1. Missing Purpose

From an print owner’s perspective, it is easy to believe that all your employees are aligned to company goals. Elsewhere in the organization, when the focus is not strategic, the goal is to get to the end of the day. Vision, mission, and values statements are simply forgotten in the crush of daily activities. What works is alignment of purpose on a simple and short phrase called the Main Thing.

Lincoln’s “main thing” was to save the Union; Roosevelt’s first focus was to end the depression and his second was to win World War II; NASA’s was to put a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth. There is a lot of power in a boiled-down message. What’s your main thing?


2. No Road Map

Many printing companies go to great lengths to create plans and then keep them a secret. The plan should be broken down by department, with each manager or lead person sharing their portion so that everyone understands his or her role.


3. Everything is a Priority

Your road map should include deadlines, which set priorities. A lack of priorities means the plan won’t be achieved.


4. No Sense of Urgency

People at the top have deadlines for getting things done; below that the need to achieve can slow to a trickle. You meet your personal deadlines, yet are disappointed when others in your company do not meet theirs.

Most people focus on what is in front of them. It is your role to communicate clearly what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and when it needs to be completed.


5. No Follow-through

Management layers mean less follow up is guaranteed. Many print owners assume that their subordinates are following through—they aren’t. There is nothing wrong and everything right with meeting daily to check on the status of priorities. A 15 minute investment will yield a dramatic improvement in getting things done.


6. Missing the How-to

When assigned a task that they do not know how to do, people procrastinate. It is necessary for you to make sure that those responsible for getting something done have the necessary tools, resources, and support.


7. Weak Accountability

Accountability cannot be just an annual review, it must be an all the time thing. It’s unfortunate that many print owners often judge a person based on whether they are liked and not on whether they produce results. This distorts what is really important. Employees are on the payroll to get a job done. If anyone is not doing what they are being paid for, they need to move to a more suitable employer.


8. Lack of Celebration

Most printing companies don’t appear to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, a project completed, a successful program. It is as if a voice is constantly saying “What have you done for me lately?” instead of saying, “Great job, let’s enjoy this for a few minutes!”

There is no reason to party every week. But when something substantial happens, take time to celebrate.


9. Missing Rewards

“You are lucky to have a job in this economy” is among the most vulgar statements ever to be spoken. Paychecks are earned in an exchange of money for time, knowledge, activities, and results. If someone isn’t earning their paycheck, deal with it in private.

Getting a paycheck is not a reward. A reward is a something given in recognition of service, effort, or achievement. Don’t keep rewards a secret. They motivate people to do more, contribute more, be more.


10. Poor Communication

The top complaint of most employees is that they do not know what is going on in their own printing company. Print owners in any organization simply cannot over communicate. While some employees will tire of the message, most won’t hear the message until it has been repeated dozens of times. Make the message short and clear and keep repeating it.

If any of these are missing in your print shop, make a personal commitment to change them so your staff will execute your business plans and vastly improve your chances of success.


Mitch Evans is president of Mitch Evans Consulting ( 10209474). His areas of expertise are in strategic planning, valuation, mergers and acquisition, financial planning, new technology, and “1-2-1” coaching. Contact him at 561-351-6950 or