Are You Planning to Succeed?

In theory, you planned out your year before it started. You got that done over the break between Christmas and New Year’s. Or at the very least, you got it roughly planned out with the first quarter seriously planned.

That’s the theory, anyway. If you are like 95% of small business owners, you haven’t done ANY of it (either personal OR for business) — even if it’s July.

You know that it’s important. You know the sayings, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there” and “In the forest, a compass is more important than a clock” (because going in the right direction is much more important than going fast in the wrong direction.)

Still, it seems like a lot of work… and the payoff seems doubtful. After all, how often do things come up that force you to change plans? All the time, of course.

Not only that, but planning out the year is a lot of work. And pretty tedious, too. Unless you are an accountant-type, you probably glaze over at the very thought of planning out the upcoming year. So, you put it off. Several times.

Finally, you decide that you have put it off so long, that it’s too late, anyway, so you blow it off.

And then, as you look back over the year from the vantage point of December, you join that chorus of folks who complain about how bad the year was. Well, maybe next year will be better.

But, it won’t, you know, unless you do something to MAKE it better. That something is planning.

I have good news! It doesn’t have to be painful, and you don’t have to become an accountant to be a successful planner. And you don’t have to wait until the New Year to do it.

You can sketch out the plan — after all, when you are in the woods a sketched map with you is better than a detailed topographical map back home. The same is true for your business. Remember — when you write it down, the brain starts doing things on your behalf.

You can “rough plan” the whole year and do more detailed planning for the current and upcoming quarter. This way, you don’t have to forecast what next December will look like. (You should do this for your day-to-day planning.) For your major goals, you might want to “sketch out your map”.

How do we “sketch our map”?

Start by figuring out what you want your business to look like at the end of the year (whether calendar or fiscal year). Pick 2 or 3 major things. (Some people like to imagine themselves at the end of the year, looking around at what they have accomplished in their business. Others like to look at what they don’t have in their business — but wish they did — and make that the basis for their year-end accomplishments.)

It might be a specific increase in cash flow (25% for example), or a 10% increase in customers, or a new building, or being able to afford (and hire) employees, or…. Whatever improvements or accomplishments you want in your business by the end of the year, write them down.

(No need for glazing over here. This is just a list of 2 or 3 things you really want to happen by the end of the year. No big deal.)

For each major thing you wrote down, figure out what it will take to get there. Once again, no need to glaze over. Just list the high level steps that need to happen. Once you have those, then put more detail under them. You can do this as many times as YOU need to. The result will be a list of concrete steps that you can do to make it happen.

Suppose, for example, that you have a goal of being in a new building by the end of the year. Your list might look like this:

Be in a new building (by Dec 1.)
Figure out space needs and optimal layout
Determine maximum amount can afford to pay
Check with accountant (consider cash flow and reserves) (lease or buy?)
Find and acquire new space
Decide on area and location
Start looking for space
Talk with agents and networking buddies
Look at possible locations
Decide on one
Negotiate lease (or purchase)
Sign contract
Move in
Plan for work disruption
Make sure all utilities and network connections are active
Schedule move-in
Throw party to celebrate

Finally, working backwards, figure out what needs to happen by when in order to accomplish them. The example above has the tasks in roughly the order that they need to happen. If yours aren’t, rearrange them so they are. Then put start and end dates on each one.

Are there more details that may need to be planned? Sure. But you don’t need to deeply plan the move-in when you are still just looking at areas and locations. (You can if you want to, but you don’t have to.)

Is there more that can be done? Yes. However, if you get as much of that done as possible, you will have a head start over previous years (and probably over your competitors.) If you have questions, go ahead and contact me. We may be able to get you on your path very quickly.

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