Let me start by asking you this question. If you were to be going on holidays, I'm sure you’d put a fair bit of time into planning the holiday, destination, when you’re going, how much it’s going to cost, what gear you’re going to take, what’s the weather going to be like, what things are you going to see, etc. It’s been said, they've done surveys and they believe that most business owners put more time into planning their holiday, that’s if they get to take them, than they actually take planning their business.
Now I’ve got another question for you… If you don’t have a plan, where are you going? You've probably heard the saying before “If you fail to plan you’re planning to fail.” And there is nothing that rings truer. There are too many people out there that I've met that are in business that are wondering why they’re not getting anywhere and when I ask them what are their plans or what are their goals, they don’t have a succinct answer. In fact they don’t have an answer at all except, “Well, I don’t have a plan.”
I think it’s quite dangerous not to have a plan. If you were going out for dinner this Saturday night somewhere I'm sure you’d have some sort of a plan. So planning is vitally important to making sure we get to where we say it is we need to go.
It is no different in business
You need to start with the end in mind. Most people start a business for two reasons, and those two reasons are; one is that they want to make more money, so financial reasons. The second reason is that they want to have more time. So it could be because they don’t want to work for somebody else or they want to be able to make their own decisions. But when running a business, you are not going to achieve those two things unless you plan for it. So you need to plan for how you’re going to make more money and you’re going to need to plan for how you’re going to work less hours.
Now, just about everything else that you want to get out of your business relates to one of those two things. So if you say, I went into my own business so I could be my own boss, well really that’s about having the freedom to do what you want when you want. Unfortunately most business people that I meet, most business owners, they have failed to plan who have ended up working a lot of hours and not knowing what comes up next or what they've got to get done tomorrow. They’re just running around putting out fires, sort of like running on a treadmill. It’s not a good way to run a business.
How does a plan work?
It's pretty simple to talk to you about it today, it’s a little harder to implement and follow because it requires a lot of discipline. But let’s have a quick chat about how to put a plan together.
Imagine you were going to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Well getting to the top of Mt. Everest is going to be a fairly hard task. It’s not something you’re going to do in a day and it’s certainly not something you’re going to attempt without having some sort of a plan. In fact lots of people have died trying to get there. It’s no different to a lot of businesses that failed, with people trying to succeed in their business. So climbing to the top of Mt. Everest you would definitely put together a plan. And even though you've put together a plan, there may be things that go wrong that you didn't expect, very similar to what would happen in business.
Set a goal in your business would be like saying, “I'm going to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.” Your goal needs to be like the summit of Mt. Everest. So let’s say you go, “I want to double my turnover in the next two years.” Or, “I want to increase my profitability in the next 3 years by 35%.” Whatever it is you set a goal as to what it is you want to achieve, and then we can start working backwards from where it is you said you wanted to be. No different if you said, “Hey, Ben let’s go out to dinner Saturday night, it’s at 35 Smith Street.” Well you would look at where 35 Smith Street is and you’d work your way back to work out how to get there.
So it is no different in business. Set your goal, what it is you want to achieve and then you can start to break down the steps and what are those going to be for you to get there. Remember, it is vitally important that you plan. I'm not talking about a big, thick business plan like you would expect to see for getting finance or venture capital, I'm talking about an action plan. So a step-by-step plan of what needs to get done so you can be successful.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.