You have started your business and have been busy working away. You have ambition, a goal, a desire, a declaration that this business shall be. Have you found that despite there being a lot of activity, that progress and producing tangible results is slower than you expected? Or have you found that despite spending a lot of time, not much gets done and you are not sure what the next steps are? These are two common experiences for new business owners, entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals.
Do you have specific, measurable goals? Do you have a plan that shows a clear pathway towards achieving your goals? Without measurable goals and a plan, reaching your target is as likely as winning the lottery. That’s relying on hope to get you what you want. Hope is great, but hope alone will not produce results for your business. Having a plan does not guarantee the result, but it gives you a chance. A much better chance of making money than winning the lottery.
Most people don’t plan. For many people, planning is relegated to activities such as listing groceries to buy for the meals that you will cook for the week or getting everything ready for a vacation or chauffeuring multiple children to various activities or having parties, weddings and funerals. What about planning for growing your business into a million dollar company? How about a multi-million dollar company? Maybe your dream is for a global empire composed of multiple companies in a variety of industries. Or maybe, you just want to make enough to buy a home and pay the bills. Your business in important to you and it definitely deserves at least the same attention you pay to dinner, to a vacation, and to a wedding. You may have big dreams for your business and for some, the thought of planning it all out will seem overwhelming. The planning can be done in manageable chunks. Planning is also easier when done with more than one brain.
There are different types of planning. Linear planning is what many people try and then they give up on planning when the plan fails. Linear planning is when we create one pathway of actions to attain our desired goal. On paper, the plan looks good as long as it goes perfectly. If anything goes wrong or anything unexpected happens, the plan is is now useless and it goes out the window. A simple example would be driving to the airport to catch a flight. You know that it takes 30 minutes to get there, and 2 hours to check in and go through security. Based on that, linear planning might have you leave your home 2 hours and 30 minutes before your flight departs. If anything goes wrong, like a traffic jam, road construction, a longer than expected line at airport security or anything else, you will be late for your flight.
Non-linear planning takes into account the unpredictability of life and unexpected situations. In that case, you may leave your home 3 hours and 30 minutes before your flight so that you have a 1-hour buffer in case things go “wrong.” You may also look at alternate routes to the airport in case there is a traffic jam so that you can bypass it. This way you have a higher chance of reaching your goal, getting on your flight, and you won’t have the experience of being rushed.
First, you need to know exactly where your business is right now. If you were traveling from your home to the airport and you didn’t know where your home was, you would not know which direction to drive in, to get to the airport. You will need to create specific, measurable goals with deadlines. This would be the equivalent of knowing where the airport is and what time your flight departs. You will also need to layout a clear set of actions that will get you from where your business currently is, to the goals you want to achieve. We also recommend creating multiple sets of actions towards reaching your goal so that if one pathway is blocked or you get stopped, you can switch to a different pathway and still reach your goal. This would be like looking at a map to plan the route you will drive from your home to the airport and then looking at alternate routes you can take in case there is a traffic jam, construction or something else that might impede your progress. You will want to create milestones along the way that you can use to check to see if you are on track to reach you goal. This way, if you are veering off course or are running behind your timeline, you can take corrective actions. When you have this type of plan in place, you are well prepared to reach your goals.
Flying by the seat of your pants without a plan is exciting and you can achieve great things, but you are getting lucky. Some people gamble and get lucky many times. However, if you want to stack the odds in your favour and you know that your business is too important to gamble with, create a plan that takes into account the unpredictability of life.