If I told you that the annual plan you write today will be useless as soon as you complete step 1, how would you respond?
“You must write terrible plans.”
“This just confirms why plans are so pointless”
“That’s nonsense, I always follow my plans to the letter, to the very end.”
You may be thinking that I’m about to tell you why you don’t need a business plan but actually, I’m going to do quite the opposite.
You’ve probably heard Stephen R’ Covey’s quote “begin with the end in mind”. If you want to know what you need to start working on tomorrow, or next week, or what to get done by the end of the month, you are going to find it extremely hard to figure out unless you have a vision of where you will be one year from now, three years from now and 10 years from now.
Whenever I start working with a new client, we always start with their vision and if they don’t have one or it seems unclear, we make one together.
Once we both know where we’re headed, we start to work backwards to determine what they need to do to make meaningful progress towards that vision in the next three years, the next year, the next quarter.
Then and only then do we talk about how the next month is looking. Because now we have line of sight.
The thing about line of sight is, the further in front of you you try to see, the fuzzier it becomes. That’s how it’s meant to be. Business planning is not an exercise in predicting the future. It’s an exercise to help you identify what your next step should be.
Set a calendar reminder in three months to review your progress and reflect on what you’ve learned. Chances are, you’ll need to either refine or even completely revise your plan.
Then take your next step.