Success in business (and in life) is a function of many things, but short of luck, there is one ingredient we all must have.  Growth, profit and success – for individuals and for organizations – requires a plan.

This isn’t news. We all know and understand that a script is necessary for clarifying objectives (mission, vision, strategy) and for detailing the action agenda. We’ve learned and used this before, and pundits and advisors (like me) are constantly reminding us of the importance of the business plan, marketing plan, weight loss plan, and such.

So, if planning is so critical, and central to success, then why is it that so many don’t do it, or don’t do it well? In my experience the main impediments are these:

Important, but not today – Many agree on the strategic importance of planning for the business, but then don’t find the time to do it today. Of course we all have other priorities, and emergencies that pop up unexpectedly. But a consistent pattern of delay week after week, month after month is not about emergencies, but priorities. It’s not much fun planning one’s own funeral – but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important thing to do. Today is here, and tomorrow never comes.

It hasn’t worked before – Unfortunately, most of us have had some poor experiences with business planning – either in the planning effort itself, or in our inability to achieve meaningful results. But again, this doesn’t mean that planning itself is the issue – more often it’s just poor execution in the process. Additionally, one should acknowledge that business planning is not a perfect, linear exercise: do this, achieve that. Instead it’s messy, fits and starts, forwards and backwards. Dwight Eisenhower once said that “plans are nothing, planning is everything.” Often It’s not that plan itself of most value, but the process of team alignment and cohesion, strategic debate and choice, trying and doing and achieving.

Perfection, the enemy of success – Too often we postpone planning, thinking we don’t yet have enough of something – data, information, knowledge. We have a sense of our desired objectives and thrust, but fear that we’re missing something, that we’re not quite ready yet to commit to a chosen path. But perfection is not the goal of business. What we’re after is resultsgrowth, profit, and sustainable success. None of this is perfect, and business planning is not simply a once and done, but instead is an iterative an ongoing cycle of planning, doing, checking, adjusting, and changing along the way. So skip the perfection.  [At the end of your road, when you write your memoirs, you can simplify the story to make it sound more perfect]. Along the way, expect change – and mistakes. Remember the expression that “good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment.”

Want to succeed in 2013? Looking for the most direct path to growth, profit, and success? It starts with a plan – a strategic business plan, annual business plan, marketing plan, business development plan, operations improvement plan, or such. If you don’t have one yet, you need it. If you have one, it can be better. If you have a good one, then focus on action and true performance.

Want to know more?  Give us a call.

Happy New Year,


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