Failing to plan is planning to fail

Lack of planning restricting SME growth

With so much out of our control in business and in life, it’s crucial to plan and strategise for success to give yourself the best chances of reaching the desired outcome. In fact, it is said that ‘change is the only constant!’ so if you have a plan, you’ll be able to adapt far easier than if you bury your head in the sand.

As a business coach and business owner myself, it baffles me why so many business owners think they can run a successful business without creating or tracking to any kind of plan. My top tips for planning are:

  1. Have a clear vision
    Whatever it is you would like to improve – whether in business, your fitness, a relationship, or anything in between! – you must start with a very clear vision of what success looks like first, then break down that picture into goals and strategies to help you actually achieve the result you’re after.
  2. Carry out the actions
    Set aside time to actually do the actions required – as there’s no point in having an amazing detailed plan if you don’t put the time aside regularly to implement it! If finances are keeping you awake at night, have you created a realistic budget and cashflow projection? Perhaps it’s your systems that need tweaking, increased marketing, clearer communication or better education? Every business is different, and success for you may be different to another. However, if you really take the time to focus on what adjustments you can make for greater success, then identify how and when you can implement those changes to create better results than before, then you will be far more likely to achieve your goals.
  3. Focus on what you can do
    It’s imperative to be looking out to the future and asking yourself “What is in my control? What can I do?”, not focusing on what you can’t do. In fact – with COVID on everyone’s lips right now – regardless of whether your business is flying, floundering or at a standstill, now is the perfect time to look at what needs to change in your business to be better than before.

Dan and Mel approached me after they’d been running their business for 15 years but hadn’t seen a growth in their turnover, profit or knowledge for over 10 of those years. They were just scraping by and had accumulated a large debt, too, so the pressures on their relationship and their family had become too much. “What’s your plan?”, I asked, wondering how they saw themselves escaping their worries. “Well, we don’t really have one; we just do our best to survive every day,” they replied.

Sadly, that’s the case for so many business owners and it simply doesn’t work long-term. With my advice, Dan and Mel set about creating a detailed business plan, outlining what their ideal business would look like in the future, and then worked on immediate strategies to give them quick results. They created a budget so that they could start spending less than they were earning and now – three years on – with a plan and accountability, they have a highly successful business that provides for them (and their whole life has changed for the better!).

Ultimately, planning is about creating the right recipe for your own version of success and outlining a road map that takes you from where you are now, to where you want to be. How can you turn your business and life around with a plan?

Suzanne Laidlaw, business reformer, entrepreneurs’ mentor and author of “What’s Your Plan?”