If You Fail to Plan…

Last November, we surveyed our readers regarding their business planning. Thirty-six percent of the respondents said that they don’t prepare plans. That surprised me. After all, readers are the type of people who are proactive about improving their business. It reminded me of one time about four years ago, when I consulted with a Brooklyn company. I spent a few months and developed some fantastic ideas on how to retain clients and motivate employees (two issues they were struggling with). After the owner agreed that nearly all of the suggestions made sense and could be implemented, he told me that he would actually go through with about 20% of them. When I asked why only 20%, he said, “Hey, if I could execute 20% of your recommendations I’ll be 20% better off… and that is pretty good.” It would have been one thing if he had said he didn’t have the ability to execute the other 80%, but he said they could have been implemented. He just didn’t want to do it.

I suspect what happened in Brooklyn is that the business owner was consumed with just running his business, Reflecting on this experience and the 36% of our readers who don’t prepare annual business plans, a famous quote from John Lennon comes to mind: “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” In business, opportunities happen when you are too busy just “running your business.”

Preparing a plan isn’t hard. But it is necessary. You need to have goals, you need to analyze the competitive landscape along with your strengths and weaknesses, and, of course, you need financial projections to hold yourself and your employees accountable. It reminds me of another old saying: If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.