What Does Planning Have to Do with anything?

I work with business owners and those who want to someday own a business. My job is to help them succeed regardless of their goal. That includes the planning of how to reach that goal. Nine out of ten people I do planning with ask right away if they have to do this part. It always surprises me, but then I realize most of us go through life without too much planning. Sure, we plan our education, weddings, birthday parties for our children, and major events. But why plan a business?

The first thing I typically tell those who question it is that they already have the plan in their head, and they just need to get it down on paper or a computer. There is science behind this: when your brain tells your hand to write or type something, your eye sees it, and you have created a loop that will enforce a pathway in your brain that will produce actions, habits, and results. 

When I worked for corporations, we would have to regularly do strategic planning and meet, plan, and forecast. Our actions had to line up with stated goals. If it wasn’t a goal, why do it?

The same applies to small business. Where do you want to be in three years? What will it take to get there? What resources will you need to achieve that goal? How much time and effort are you going to have to put in? What are the: who, what, where, when, why, and how of your plan? Who else needs to see it? It is typically for you only, but if you need financing the lender wants to see it as well and in detail.

Everyone understands the plan can change and events can change things like having to shut down for covid did. The issue is though without a plan what happens to your business. Is it going to succeed?

Secondly, if things change how often should you revisit your plan? I know that I tell my clients you should revisit every quarter the first year, every six months the second year and annually after that. You should, however, track progress toward goals daily. This is an important step that a lot of people don’t see. Having metrics to track progress can keep you on track to achieve your goals. Not tracking important metrics can make you feel that you are simply chasing your tail. Indeed, you might be no one knows because nothing is being tracked. Sales, returns, return customers, positive feedback and ratings, on time delivery, on time service, negative feedback and how it was handled. What results are you achieving for the efforts you put in.

All of these are important to understanding why you do the things you do and what moves you forward to your goals. The bottom line is whether you are a start-up, an established business, or a business on the way to a change in ownership, planning your business is critical to your success and making sure your efforts produce the results you are looking for in your business.

Wishing you the greatest success,

Todd Rausch

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