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Why Plans are Vital to Your Success


Today my wife has a big smile on her face because we're having our old kitchen ripped out and a new kitchen installed. Needless to say, the house is a bit of a disaster but the contractors that are doing the whole process know exactly what to do and in what order.

Having a plans is often viewed as unnecessary or something you put in the bottom of the drawer, but nothing could be further from the truth. I know that I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that the stone bench top is being put in after our new cupboards are in place.

If you can’t articulate what you’re trying to achieve in your own business in a structured plan, then it’s likely you won’t become a success. Many people have great ideas but very few have the ability to write them down and even fewer people can execute them.

About ten years ago, I was traveling on one of my around the world trips and dropped into Fort Lauderdale to catch-up with some friends. While I was there, I met with a couple of people that were looking to get some investment dollars into what I thought would be a potentially great business.

I asked them for their business plan and was met by a blank stare. I then asked for a forward projecting cashflow and the response was the same. In a bit of frustration I then asked to see their past financials and likewise these weren’t available…..oh dear.

Without some sort of plan, they’d lost me as I potential investor into their business. It’s not good enough to have a great idea, you also need to have a plan on how you are going to execute that idea to achieve the business outcomes.

I don’t really care whether your plan is on the back of a napkin or a one-hundred-page detailed document (you’d better provide a summary!). The first stage I’m interested in is whether you can express how you are going to achieve what you are setting out to accomplish.

The second stage is that once the plan is set, are you able to follow through and do what you said you would do? There’s little point in a plan if you don’t execute it.
In all my decades of being in business I’ve reviewed many, many business plans and of them all only a small percentage of people both get the investment and also follow through on what they said they’d do.

There is a third stage to any plan….don’t set it in stone. Market forces, delays with suppliers, problems with staff or a multitude of other factors can and should influence what is outlined in your plan. More than that, I’ve seen businesses start out thinking they were going to do one thing and then find a perfect opportunity that caused them to morph into something else.

Executing a plan is vitally important to any successful businesses but holding it loosely is even more important. Think of your plan as more of a guiding star rather than the road you’re traveling. The star will always beckon you forward even though the road may twist and turn around all the challenges and joys of running your own business.

Chess is a great analogy for business. You need to be constantly planning your attacks and defences while being flexible enough to change midstream if your opponent does something you don't expect.

If you are in business or are thinking about starting a business then I would highly recommend you spend some time working on your plan. You may surprise yourself in how well the process refines your thinking while motivating you towards great things.

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Thursday, 09 July 2020
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