You probably had a teacher in high school that said, ad nauseum, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Don’t even try to deny it. The hard truth is, they were 100% right. We hated to hear it because frankly, we weren’t interested in ‘planning’ or ‘the future’ or anything that wasn’t Pokemon or lunch, to be honest. Even now, we feel that most adults, us included, aren’t nearly as concerned with planning as we should be.
But we’re focusing on you today and you’re here because you’re interested in planning for your business, so let’s get to that.
Here’s 4 Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Planning a Thing
Have a Plan
This may seem basic and straightforward considering the topic of discussion, but it’s an often overlooked step in the process. A plan is more than just a list of goals, its a successive series of activities and metrics in which each step sets you up for the next step until you’ve achieved those goals. A clear understanding of your plan is the first step to achieving the goals you’ve set.
Why’s it so hard to plan?
So, you know this, we know this, and we know you know this, so why is it so hard to make a plan? Well, two things we’ve noticed. Firstly, because we sort of, kind of, mostly know what we need to do in order to meet our goals, its hard to get our brain to pause and list out the nitty gritty of all that has to be done. So we say things like “I know what I need to do” and “The plan’s in my head!” when in reality …its really not.
Secondly, we’re really averse to work as a genera rule. When we know we have things to do our brains somehow find every other thing to focus on, unless we’ve already trained it to be a good little lump of grey matter and use its powers for good. So either we struggle to make ourselves sit down and get the plan done OR we spend centuries perfecting the plan, overthinking and over-analyzing every step and detail till the deadline has passed and you’re still deciding if that one thing should be step 3 or step 2-c-17. A slight exaggeration, but you know we’re right.
Be Realistic… But Dream
Yes, your plan should stretch and challenge you. No, it should not require an act of God to succeed.
Be real with yourself even as you dream big for your thing. If you’re promoting a book, sure you can aim for 200 pre-orders, but you shouldn’t be trying to gain 2,000 pre-orders in 3 weeks when no one knows you or your book exists. If marketing and graphic design and editing are not among your strengths then maybe you need to schedule some research hours into your plan. Or maybe you need a team, and so you need to add outsourcing and saving to pay them to your plan.
Be realistic about your strength and weaknesses, but also about your time limitations, other commitments and your very real priorities. Don’t set yourself up to fail and then wallow in disappointment when it doesn’t work out.
Work the Plan
Again, this is seemingly basic. You’d think that once the plan has been made that logically, it would follow that one now should work the plan to complete all of the tasks and activities laid out in the plan that will bring one closer to one’s goals, but this isn’t always the case.
Some of us, entrepreneurs or not,have a real high chance of falling into a state of complacency of “I have a plan”, not realizing that their inattention to the plan has reaped a larger negative: they’re not moving. Time will pass and your goals will have been left unaccomplished. You’ve got to work the plan you intend to work for you.
The plan will have to change. This is a given. Maybe not the whole plan, maybe not much of it, but some aspect of the plan will have the change, and you best get used to that thought now.
The thing is, once you start working the plan, you now have access to new information, new perspectives, new aspects that may change your trajectory or how you’re going to achieve your plan. You may find out that there are seven shorter ways to accomplish that one thing you want to do, or that maybe you completely underestimated what was required and so now you have to add 13 steps to your plan. That second one isn’t a happy realization, but you wouldn’t have known that had you not worked the plan.
Things are constantly changing today, so remember to keep an open mind so you can shift gears and pivot where necessary.
Planning is a bit of a misnomer in that it’s not just a thing that happens once. There’s no set it and forget it. Because you get to constantly rework your plan as you work through your checkpoints and encounter new data, planning isn’t technically really ever done, because when you’re done with one plan, you get to make another one.
When you’re planning your thing, whatever it is, remember that there is always something that needs to happen next, a new step in the overall process, a new level to reach in the success of your thing. You don’t ever have to stop. You can, if you want to, but let it not be because of a lack of a plan.
What Do You Think?
Is planning overrated or under-used? Let us know how you feel in the comments below!