As I have mentioned, I was working on one of my books (Starting Your Creative Business) and I wrote about three prerequisites you need to have before you even start.
As I did, I realized that you really need those three things (Passion, Persistence, and a Plan) throughout your whole business life (and can make the case for throughout your whole life – business or otherwise.) So, I decided to share about them briefly here even though you may have heard these before, because, if you are like me, an occasional reminder is in order. Today, I want to cover a Plan.
Imagine that you are in a meadow in the middle of a forest. As you look, you can see six different paths around the perimeter of the meadow, each leading away through the forest. Only one, or at most, two paths will take you where you want to be — back to your car in the parking lot where you left it. Just running down a path (passion) picked at random – no matter how hard you run – is not a strategy for success, even if you keep doggedly at it (persistence).
You have five out of six chances that you are on the wrong path. And it gets worse if you simply run in a circle around the perimeter of the meadow. You then have no chance.
But, if you add a map and a compass, to help you pick the proper path, you have changed the odds for success enormously. But the map and compass are not the plan, they are the tools.
A plan is not the goal. The goal is the destination on the map (in our opening illustration – your car.) The plan is the route you will take to reach the destination (the path.) You want to keep the map and compass handy because the path may appear to be going the wrong direction. Or there may be an obstacle in the way that requires you to take a detour. With the map and compass, you can work out a detour that will bring you back to the path and keep you moving toward your destination.
As I said, in your life and in your business, the plan is your route to your goal. Depending on how expert you are with map and compass, how familiar you are with the terrain, and how well equipped you are for the hike, you may need a very detailed route or a just a rough sketch.
Some people are able to sketch out a plan on a cocktail napkin and that is enough to see them through to the implementation of a multi-million dollar business. They know the territory and have a lot of the map in their brains… due to experience.
Others need a plan that is so detailed, it would make an architect’s blueprints look like the above cocktail napkin sketch. The less experience you have, the more detailed the plan needs to be.
The smaller and easier the goal, the less planning it will probably take. The converse is also true… the bigger and/or harder the goal is, the more planning that will need to happen to achieve it.
Most goals are somewhere in between. And most people
- don’t like to plan… and…
- aren’t very good at it.
So, how do you keep from being overwhelmed when you need to plan? The best way is to “chunk it down.” That is, break it down into manageable chunks or bits.
A bigger plan will have a lot of high-level parts and each one of those will get broken down into smaller parts. The smaller parts will have specific actions (tasks) that need to happen… and in a particular order. Listing these out give you an actual route to your goal with the steps needed to accomplish it.
If you are really bad at planning (or really new at it), consider hiring a guide (coach, mentor, or advisor) to help you through the woods. It can make the difference between coming through the woods successfully or not coming back at all. Once you have more experience, you won’t need a guide.
What is your experience with planning? Do you have a favorite tool (map and compass)? Don’t leave us in the dark. Use the comments and enlighten us.