Do I really need a plan?

Do I really need a plan? YES! If you don’t have a plan any road will get you there. Ok not exactly the lyrics from the famous hit song “Any Road” from George Harrison “if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”. Same message though.

In life and in business you need to have a plan. In business we simply recognize it with the title “The Business Plan”. The problem with this process in large corporation is it becomes an exercise in futility. Many executives and their underlings work diligently building this incredible presentation and robust plan only to make the big pitch to the Board, Shareholders and/or Senior Executive Team. Then place it in a binder, distribute it to everyone, only to let it sit on the shelf till the next time we feel the urge to explore the planning process. Now yes it is true the makings of the plan are inside this binder and fundamentally it is being followed or monitored by some. This approach is not going to work for my favorite audience, small and medium size business and everyday people.

Here is how to build a successful plan in life and in business that will be easy to follow, monitor and get results. This process is built on the foundation of three critical elements that we all need in life: commitment, accountability and consequence (CAC). If CAC is going to be a problem for you, go and download George Harrison’s song “Any Road” and play it monthly. That will be a much better direction for you. J

The process is simple to understand however it does require the CAC. And yes that is always the hard part. Here are the four questions you need to answer.

  1. What is it you do? What product or service do you provide in business? Or as is it is in life, what is it you do day in and day out, your purpose or mission?
  2. Who cares? Seriously give some thought to answering your clear understanding of who cares about what you do. Be specific. Sorry to disappoint you but not everyone will care. Write down your audience to the question “who cares” you provide this product, service and in life who cares about your purpose.
  3. How do you tell your audience (who cares) about what you do? This is otherwise known as your communication plan and is closely tied to a marketing plan. You do not need to go there. Simply answer the question. Think about it for a moment. You could have the best product or service and/or purpose in life but your audience needs to be spoken to. Do you do this with social media, referrals, advertising and/or promotion? What is the strategy around this? What are the tactics (to do’s) and are they effective? Inside this question you are strongly urged to establish and monitor the return on the investment. If you are spending money, time and energy in delivering your message of “what you do” to “who cares”, make sure you are getting a positive result.
  4. Why are you doing what you do? And contrary to the incredible book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek, this “why” is the financials. Everything in life and in business requires a breakeven and/or positive return from a financial perspective or it is not sustainable. It may be very noble but as a general rule, if it is losing money over a prolonged period of time, it will not survive. Once again you do not need a CFO to lead you through this exercise. You simply need to forecast the revenue you will achieve for doing what you are doing. In life this is known as your salary. Then clearly lay out your expenses and or cost of doing “what you do”. Plan it with a view of looking at the next three years and see the forecast from a revenue and expense perspective. Then commit to holding yourself and/or your company to delivering (accountability) to achieving the revenue and controlling the expenses. If you don’t? Go back to listening to George Harrison “any Road” (consequence).

Yes it is true I have a habit of showing everything in a perspective of simplicity. I am the butter knife, not the sharpest knife in the drawer but a pretty useful tool. We should all keep things simple. We all have the ability to build simple plans and simple plans get done. Simply put, things that get written down get attention and get accomplished. The cool thing is building a plan is a choice and we all have the ability to choose! Make your choice today to build a plan by writing down the answer to four simple questions providing the map of the roads you want to travel so you know where you are going!

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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