They say that a failure to plan is planning to fail. I find that this saying holds true in every aspect of life… and especially in business.
But despite the importance of planning, I find that a disturbing number of business owners don’t have any long-term plans for their business other than “make more money.”
Interestingly enough, a lot of the business owners who operate without a plan are the same ones that come to me because they feel like their business just isn’t fitting in with their lives.
Coincidence? I think not!
In my opinion, having a goal and a plan for getting there is essential for motivation. Many business owners feel directionless or like their businesses aren‘t working for them because they don’t have a plan in place.
Of course, planning is much more than just saying “I want my business to make more money”. Planning is an involved process – in many cases, it requires introspection, self-reflection and a lot of one-on-one coaching.
Why planning is important
In my experience, the most effective plans are comprehensive, setting achievable goals and actionable plans for getting there.
People need something to strive towards – it’s only human nature. Goals are what motivate us to get up in the morning, sit down at our businesses and get through the tough times.
Of course, even the best goals won’t do much to motivate us if we don’t have a plan for getting there. Take it from me: it’s very easy to lose hope if you feel your goals are unattainable.
That’s where planning comes in. When I enter a one-on-one coaching relationship, I like to take a structured approach towards reaching your goals, with intermediate steps and goalposts. I find that a well-written, comprehensive plan can make even the loftiest goals seem achievable.
How I help you plan
No two people are identical. Everybody has different beliefs, interests and dreams. And business owners are no exception.
Let’s say your dream is to travel the world. Starting from there, I work backwards with you to figure out how to get there.
- When do you want to be living your dreams out? Two years? Three? Five?
- How much TIME do you want to dedicate to your dream lifestyle? Do you want to be travelling all of the time or are you happy with periodic trips?
- How much MONEY will we need to budget to make that dream possible? Overseas travel can be expensive – your ideal time frame sets out how aggressive we’ll have to be with money.
- Does your business bring in enough revenue currently to fund your travel habit within the time frame set out above?
- Does your business leave you with enough time to lead your ideal lifestyle? If not, how much time do you need and what systems and processes can we implement to get you your time back?
- If your business revenue isn’t high enough or won’t be enough to get you there in time, what can we change about your systems and processes to minimise costs and start funding your travel dream?
- How can we use to measure your adherence to the plan? If you need a net profit of $100,000 to reach your dream, what tools can we use to measure your expenses and revenues to see if we’re on track to meet that budget?
Unlike a lot of other business coaches, my approach is all about YOUR goals and planning around meeting those SPECIFIC goals. There’s a reason I style myself as a business owner coach!
Notice how my process starts from your end-goals and works backwards, gradually getting more and more specific. While your goals might not be unique, the details are. Your plans need to reflect that simple fact.
I’m not advocating in favour of micromanaging everything about your business – far from it! I am a big believer in fostering initiative and leadership in business owners. What I do advocate however is effective planning.
And I find that the best plans are the ones that go into detail about what you need to do to achieve your goals.
My personal philosophy is that your plans need to be tailored for your specific goals. While you and another business owner might both want to travel overseas, there are going to be differences. For instance, you might want to start travelling sooner, or you might want to travel to different destinations.
How does this make your plan different from someone else’s?
Well, if you want to start travelling sooner we will need to be more aggressive with our plan – you need that money and time sooner. Returning to the travel example: visiting Europe is pricier than South America for example, which adds some additional pressure.
Other important things to plan around
Your business lifecycle
Your business is crucial to enabling you to live your ideal life. You can’t travel the world or take up dance lessons if you don’t have the time or money to do it!
Your business is what enables you to live your life. After establishing what your dreams are, the next step to an effective plan is figuring out how your business fits into the picture and whether we need to make any changes to get you where you want to go.
Somethin you might not know is that your business has a defined life cycle with different stages:
Each business is at a different stage of this cycle. And each point of the life cycle requires a different approach towards planning.
For example, a business that’s still developing is in a difficult spot: it has a very small customer base, hasn’t made a name for itself yet and its systems and staff are still green. At this stage, our focus would be on creating plans that help your business obtain growth and build a customer base.
At this early stage, the old standbys – time and money – aren’t that big a factor.
In contrast, a mature business requires a very different approach. These businesses have generally plateaued, requiring major changes to return to growth. They have stable business and proven systems – barring any sudden changes to the market, our plans would focus on getting you time and money to live your life.
And if it isn’t getting you enough of either, what changes will we need to make to start bringing in more money or free up your time?
When we look at where your business is, we can’t ignore the state of your industry. Some industries simply won’t be able to help you reach your goals, and we need to plan around that.
If you’re still in the business of manufacturing rotary landline phones, for instance, my advice is simple: “get out!”
Of course, not every case is as cut and dry. Nevertheless, if you want your business to support your dreams, it’s essential to determine where your industry is going. After all, there’s not much point planning around a business that might not be around in a couple of years!
Your plan needs to take into account the state of your industry and whether there’s a future in your current trajectory.
Start planning today with one-on-one coaching
Planning for your future is a long process. It’s okay to ask for help!
I’m not saying that this highly structured approach towards planning is going to work in every instance. I said it myself: every business owner is different. What resonates for you might not “click” with another business owner – that’s why I take a tailored approach with my clients.
What is important for every business owner however is effective planning. No matter what your end-goal is, a good plan is essential for getting there.
If you want help planning for your goals, a business owner coach can help. Call the Bruce on 0419 352 540 and I’ll get you on track to live the life of your dreams.