Planning. We all know we should do it. Yet, when I ask business owners if they have a documented plan for the future – many look at me sheepishly or they take that as the cue to present the elaborate plans…in their head.
Sidebar: Let me address a common misconception. Plans in your head are NOT business strategies. Two big reasons: 1. Unless you’re at the Psychic Network, your staff can’t read your mind. 2. No one else has access to them and therefore your staff is unable to act on them.
To get you from where you are today to where you want to be, you need a documented and aligned plan that is communicated to your staff and stakeholders. As business owners, we know this. Yet, so few of us do it. What’s the block?
Where is Your Focus?
I met with a potential client over lunch yesterday. We were talking about her vision for her company. She had lots of really good ideas. Yet, she was frustrated that her company’s growth had stalled. I asked if she had any document plans or discussed her ideas with her managers. She said, “I just don’t have time. Anyway, I’ll just figure it out as we go.”
Hmmmm, can you guess why her company plateaued?
Four Tips for Effective Planning
There’s an old adage that says, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” As leaders, we are constantly bombarded with things vying for our attention daily. So, where does your focus go? Usually to the biggest fire or the squeakiest wheel. The impact is planning tends to be short term reactive instead of strategic and proactive – resulting in slower growth and lower productivity.
Here are four quick tips to get you started:
- Work “ON” Not “IN” – It’s critical to pull yourself out of the day-to-day operations to work ON your business. When you’re IN your business, you typically see what’s right in front of you. When you’re working ON your business, you can see a whole new perspective about what’s possible.
- Schedule Time – Schedule some uninterrupted time. (Trust me – the world will not stop turning if you’re unavailable for a short period of time.) Even if it’s an hour a week – that’s a start. If it’s on your calendar, it won’t fall victim to the ‘someday, one day, when’ syndrome.
- Write It Down – Sit down with a paper and a pen or with your computer. The goal is to empty your head – not write “War and Peace” or a full blown business plan. Ask yourself where you see your business going? What do you see as future opportunities? Just start writing and be open minded. (Shove your inner critic in a closet for a while.)
- Collaborate – Take your ideas to your team. Get their feedback, hear their ideas and begin to collaborate. From there, you can pick the best ideas and then create a strategy.
Viola! You’re on the path to proactive planning. See, that wasn’t so hard!