Q&A with SourceForge and Empiraa

The simple solution to actually executing your business plan

Business planning or business strategy is an integral part of any company and something most have in some shape or form. It answers the critical questions of ‘Who are we and where are we going?’. So it’s a no-brainer that any successful business needs a clear business plan.

SourceForge recently sat down with Ash Brown, founder of Empiraa, a business game-planning platform that gives businesses the tools to execute their strategies successfully. In this article, we will cover the problem that Empiraa solves and why simple planning is critical for a business’s success.

What is the current problem with business planning?

Most businesses have a business plan or strategy of some sort. But the main problem we encounter is whether the rest of the business knows about that plan. Too often the vision of the business is either stuck in the Founders head or kept at the executive level. It is very rare to have clarity of the business vision across the whole staffing body.

“I (Ash Brown) have had a long career sitting in C-level positions, where we did fancy planning days and some genuinely good work to decide on the direction of the business. But did those plans ever go anywhere? No. They were stuck on some document, not to be looked at until the next planning session a year later.”

Too often these static documents are lost or not looked at regularly enough to be able to successfully action the plan they contain. Spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations are great in theory but the execution requires regular check-ins and actionable tasks.

There didn’t seem to be a solution that allowed businesses to execute all their hard planning easily. Yes, there were some complex strategy platforms out there, but they were difficult to use and took time away from your business dealings.

92% of businesses worldwide are considered small to medium businesses and we knew these companies needed a simple solution that actually made you feel good about business.

How do you make people feel good about business?

Feeling good about business means founders going to bed at night content with where their business is going. Too often you hear business owners loathing the experience and worrying constantly whether they are going to be able to pay their employees next week.

We want to give business owners and leaders piece of mind in knowing exactly where they are and where they are going.

That starts with providing them with a platform that is not going to take time from them but something that is going to enrich their business and set them up for success.

The number one rule is it needs to be simple! Too many platforms are overly complex and try to be everything at once. We wanted a solution that was simple and easy to use and did strategy execution really bloody well.

How does Empiraa solve the problem of failed execution?

We like to think of ourselves and the playground sandbox. We are the box of sand and give you the tools to execute your game plan.

Empiraa houses your business plan in a dynamic, cloud-based environment so you can see your progress live. No more static documents! You now have visibility across your whole business and how you are progressing towards your goals.

We break down your game plan into a few areas. Your vision statement and core values make up part of your plan. They give people an understanding of who you are as a business and what you value. Having this available to your employees is really important to attracting the right people to your business and showing what you stand for.

The next part is setting 5-7 business pillars. These are longer-term BIG goals that get you to where you want to go. But of course, we can’t just say we want to achieve these big goals over the next duration of time and expect them to happen by themselves.

This is where Empiraa really shines. We break down those pillars into key objectives. These are typically medium-sized goals that are specific to certain teams within your business. From there, those objectives can be broken down into smaller tasks and actionable items that can be measured by all the standard types of metrics.

As your people start inputting data into their objectives, you can see how they are tracking in real-time and adapting to changes in a flexible way.

How important is collaboration to Empiraa?

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do. The platform isn’t designed to be used by just one person. They say a task shared is a task halved and we certainly believe this.

You can assign objectives and tasks to all different members of your teams and collaborate together around shared goals. We’ve found this creates accountability and trust in teams as everyone can see how they are contributing to the business goals.

Do you think there is a connection between the clarity of a business’s vision and employee engagement?

Absolutely! We spend the majority of our lives working, so we want to feel good about who we work for. Understanding how you as an employee fit into the bigger purpose of the business can really change how someone feels about their job. Using Empiraa you see a direct effect your work has on the business achieving its goals. It’s right there in front of you.

Our customers who have been actively using the platform for the past 7 months have noticed a direct correlation between using Empiraa and their employee engagement going up.

And this is a timely discussion. Businesses are trying to find ways to improve company culture post Covid-19 where their workforce has been split between working from home and being back in the office. We offer a solution that can help increase that employee connection.

You switch between business strategy and business planning, is there a difference?

Well, funny story. When we started out we called ourselves a strategy platform. As we started getting user cases and analyzing our customer’s experience, one thing became very clear. We weren’t creating strategies for businesses. We were just giving them the tools to execute their own strategy.

The word ‘strategy’ really seemed to put a lot of smaller businesses off. They associate strategy with high-level thinking that is overly complex and not for them.

So we pivoted. Now we call ourselves a game planning and execution platform. That change has really resonated with our audience. All of a sudden we were more approachable and that’s ultimately the place we want to sit. Because who doesn’t love a sporting analogy?

You have started targeting the startup community, how do they fit in?

Coming into the market as a startup ourselves, gave us an affinity for that industry and the amazing communities that surround it.

One thing that stood out to me when I was on my own Founder journey, was how difficult it can be to tame your overflowing ideas into a concept that ultimately investors are going to give you money for. Entrepreneurs are visionary people, and creating discipline in those early days is really hard as you get exposed to so many opinions and ideas.

So we had this little idea to help give startups their best possible chance of success and that started with a plan. And not a 40-page business plan that takes months of writing. An actionable plan that breaks down those big goals with the steps to get there.

Empiraa is now embedded in incubator programs to help set up Founders for success from the beginning. It’s a pretty cool opportunity to get in from the very beginning because if those startups are successful, we are with them from their infancy to when they hit the stars.

What are the latest updates with the platform?

We have just released our API integration feature EmpiraAPI. This is huge for us and something we have been working on for the past six months. It allows businesses to stop manually entering their data into Empiraa and instead creates automation between their regular platforms that are also receiving data and pulling that information into Empiraa.

It’s another notch in our belt to make the platform even easier to use. A few hours to set the connections up will save you hundreds of hours manually entering data over a year.

We have some other big plans in the works as well as an updated user interface coming this year.

Any last words?

Business planning shouldn’t be a chore or a difficult process. It’s meant to be fun and we want to bring some of that fun back into the process.

A plan is only a piece of paper without execution. Don’t let yours go to waste in that static document any longer.

You can get started with a 14-day free trial.

March 28, 2023
Ashley McVea
Head of Marketing @ Empiraa