How Good is Your Plan?

There is a very good reason why the adage ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ has been around for so long. As it turns out, it’s based in reality and particularly holds true when it comes to launching your own business…but also when operating your life.

Let’s begin with your own business. Whether you have been successful for 20 years, or are just about to begin, how well you plan will directly impact the level of success you achieve.

Running a business is not a task to be taken lightly.  Planning in several areas is a prerequisite for success.  For example, in addition to addressing the big picture of how to generate business, you must also take the time to focus on seemingly small points that will ensure a smooth-running office on a daily basis.

If you are just beginning a business, small questions need answers:

  • How will the phone be answered and by who?
  • What office equipment will you need to get your work done?
  • How will the work be produced?

If you have been in business for a while now, but without a true ‘plan’ in place, larger questions need answers:

  • How will you handle daily tasks?
  • How will you handle weekly and quarterly tasks?
  • Who will be your backup in the event of a prolonged illness or disability?

All of these issues may seem obvious; however, failing to take the time to address each one, could leave you ineffective and unable to develop and maintain a successful business.

Knowing what to expect. You should have a solid understanding of exactly how much revenue you will need to generate each month in order to cover your expenses. Include everything!  If you are already in the business and have done this before, do it again now and see if your income is enough to cover the current expenses.

When you have itemized all of your monthly expenses and added them up, it will be clear what the business must generate in order to avoid going into debt.  Then you will be ready to begin planning how to meet those expenses.

To create new business, you will need to write a detailed list of where your business will come from?  Then make a conservative estimate of the fees your business will generate each month.  If there is a shortfall in income, you should consider what, if any, expenses you can reduce/eliminate until income has grown.  If you can’t reduce expenses, you must make a plan to increase income.

Still think this only suits your career? Think again. Go back and check each area of successfully planning a business and see how similar it would be to designing a life that you love. What kind of plan could you design for the things you want in your life?

In all areas, by creating a plan, you will be planning to succeed, not failing by default.  During the planning process, keep in mind that a plan must be flexible.  Do not just write out your plan and toss it in your desk drawer or file it away in a computer folder.  As you progress, compare it with your actual results on a regular basis (at least once per quarter). Then adjust your plan accordingly.

There isn’t anything magical about planning, nor do you need specific skills. You simply need to make the time to think thoughtfully about what you want and how you will go about getting there. Make the time to design a sound plan and then follow it, because failing to plan is as good as planning to fail.

Life as We Know It.

The life we have is one that we know for sure. Regardless of how we feel about it, we accept that it is ours, even if there are many things that could use fixing. We complain often, dream of change, and sometimes even relish in the golden moments that make us smile. Yet we continue on the same path, because the ‘known’ is what creates comfort, even when the known is uncomfortable. Why?

If you’re going to be uncomfortable anyway, why not get out of your own way and create something new and different?!  Yes, you are in your own way. That job you have yearned for, the business you have wanted to start, the exercise program you have been dabbling in for decades, is all possible, if you move aside.

I have often questioned others, and myself in search of understanding the difference between the people that have what they want and those that simply talk about having it. Interestingly, there are many things in common: a strong sense of self, a knowledge of ones own strengths, an understanding of what doesn’t work for them and a real desire for movement. Those are the qualities that make change possible.

What distinguishes those that act on their desires and those that don’t, are their differences.  People that actually create change are willing to let go of what they know and live into the creation of what can be next (the unknown).  They do not live into the drama or the fear of it, but instead, confidently create such a real picture of what they want, that it doesn’t feel unknown at all. In fact, they talk about it so often that they feel it already exists. They don’t give up because the money hasn’t come in yet, or the waistline hasn’t budged, but keep moving, knowing that in time all of that will take a life of its own.  These individuals don’t simply check off their lists in hopes of achieving the end result, they follow the steps because it is what they are passionate about and know that the result will follow as well.

For those of you still stuck in your ‘reasons’: family needs, time, money, etc., this is a hard concept because you have been repeating your story for so long that your story feels factual! I can just hear your inner voice now: yeah but she doesn’t know what my life is like! What I do know is that we all have busy lives and family obligations as well.  The ‘do-ers’ just don’t get stopped with the reasons, but instead create their life around them: getting up earlier in the morning, working an extra job at low cash-flow times, and being choosier about what can and can not be attended to.  Your life will get in the way.  Your job is to see them as hurdles (to be jumped), not roadblocks.

Here is the perfect example that many runners will relate to. You are out for your third run this week and can’t believe, again, that you are struggling. There is an unbelievable feeling that perhaps you have grown heavier, more sluggish, and older.  You are certain that you can no longer run, because maybe ‘they’ are right. Maybe your life is too busy for this right now, or you are just getting too old. Until…you decide to buy a new pair of sneakers. Suddenly you hit the streets and your stride feels long, your legs feel strong, and your breathing is controlled and calculated.  It is then that you remember just how old your shoes were, and what then seemed like fact, now isn’t even part of the conversation. Instead, the conversation revolves around signing up for a race! I mean, why not? You are in great shape!

Your life as you know it, is just that. Changes can occur over night though, simply by what you do and say. Don’t get stuck in what seems like ‘fact’.  Whatever facts you have convinced yourself of, will look different with a new pair of sneakers.