Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

The New Year is a perfect time to take a step back and assess what has worked in your business in 2019 and to make plans for the year ahead. Writing a good plan can’t guarantee success, but it can go a long way towards reducing the risk of failure.

We all know the well-known proverb “failing to plan is planning to fail”, yet it is very easy for business owners to get consumed almost entirely with the day to day running of the business and this results in crisis management. Planning is vital if you want a healthy, growing business. A strategic business plan lets you take stock of what worked and what didn’t work in 2019, and helps you set new directions or adjust old goals/targets. So why do it just once a year? Set aside time each month or quarter to review, adjust, and look forward. Not only will this help you avoid costly mistakes and stay on track, but you’ll feel more focused and relaxed.

So what’s stopping you from making a plan? The idea of writing a strategic plan for your business can seem quite daunting but at its simplest it is really only having an idea about what you would like your business to achieve over the next year and how you are going to get there. The first step to creating your plan is to think about what position you want your business to be in a year from now, what sales targets do you need to set yourself, what financial position do you want to be in this time next year? Maybe you want to take more time off work, does this mean you need to recruit more staff or delegate better?

When setting goals and financial targets it is important to be realistic but to also stretch what you think you might be able to achieve and challenge yourself. Breaking goals into small actionable steps and assigning realistic time frames to each, can make goals seem less daunting and more achievable. It also enables you to work out what you need to do week by week, day by day to achieve your goals. Regular weekly or monthly benchmarks are a great way to keep you on track and to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, allowing you to make the adjustments required to your twelve-month plan.

And finally, the secret of achieving your goals is to write them down in a well-defined and clear manner. According to a study on goal setting, people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. A group of Harvard students who were about to graduate, were asked to set goals for themselves. Some didn’t set goals, some did without writing them down and only 3 percent in the group wrote down their goals. After many years this same group of students were interviewed. Those who set goals but never wrote them down were earning twice as much as those who never set any goals, and the 3 percent who set goals and wrote them down, were earning 10 times as much as those who set goals but never wrote them down.

So who doesn’t want to be in the 3 percent that achieved considerably more? Now is the time to grab a pen and make a plan for 2020 to begin making this a successful year for you and your business.

Vicki Platt