Who else is ready to take off in 2010?

  photo from NASA 

Regardless of the type of business you’re in, the last 2 or 3 years have been a challenge, including the longest recession since 1929.  The good news is there are a lot of positive signs that the economy, led by small business, is ready to take off.

How do you make sure that your business takes off as well?  There’s one key ingredient that has to be there (the absence of it is the leading cause of business failures).

You have to actively plan for growth (and take action on that plan)!

Yes you have to have money, great people, solid ideas – but it all starts with a plan that makes sense…to you, to your employees, to the bank – whoever needs to know.  A plan that’s inspiring and actionable…and one that you actually do take action on!

As a business owner, or an entrepreneur you know how important it is to plan, but if you’re like most people it’s almost impossible to routinely find the time to be able to catch your breath, much less work on big picture planning.  What can you do?

It’s a classic problem – how do you find more time in the day. You’re a business owner, an entrepreneur, and you are responsible for everything when it comes to your business. Here’s the bottom line – if you’re not setting aside at least a few hours a week for planning and strategy, you are ultimately going to fail.   The good news is that it doesn’t have to be rocket science. 

Here are 4 steps that will get planning into your weekly routine.

1. Make planning a priority

One of the biggest problems most entrepreneurs have is an aversion to planning. They’re action oriented and they want to be in the thick of things, fighting fires and making things happen. All of those are great traits, but without planning and strategy it’s like having a car with a great engine and wheels, but no way to steer.

You might be going somewhere fast, but you don’t know where and you don’t have any control over the road you’re taking. However if you can take some time to plan, map out a smoother route and keep improving your car your chances for long term success go up immensely.

Make planning a priority.  Don’t just talk about it or think about it, make it a top priority!

2. Get it scheduled…in writing

Now that you are on board that planning’s important, then you need to treat it that way. If you had a major client that was paying you to do something for them, you would build that time into your schedule – in fact you would build your schedule around that major client.

Your time for planning needs to be the same way. Block out at least a couple of hours each week and treat it like a top priority client meeting that can’t be missed. By having it in writing (and sharing it with your staff) you are much more likely to actually do it.

3. Be productive

When you’re taking the time to plan, you need to make sure it’s productive (otherwise you’ll stop doing it). Split your time between establishing long term goals and plans and identifying the short term constraints that are currently holding you back.

The long term view will help you focus and prioritize on what’s important. The shorter term view will focus on solving the problems and issues that are causing all of the day to day fires and constraining your progress. By doing both, you will generate short term and long term benefits that will keep you motivated and continuing to plan and implement both the short term and long term improvements.

4. Be held accountable

Finally a plan, whether it’s long term or short term, doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t actually get implemented. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re planning:

– Build in specific and measurable goals as part of your plans.

– Make sure you have a way to track your progress against those goals

– Work with someone else: a partner, a coach, a mentor or a peer to hold yourself accountable for delivering on the plans. At a gym, the people that are mostly likely to hit their goals are the ones working with a trainer – partly because they get new ideas and they’re knowledgeable but also because the trainer will hold them accountable.

Planning for your business doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be done if you’re going to have long term success. What can you do this week to get started on a regular planning regimen? 

I work with business owners to help them figure out how to get their businesses to lift-off and key part of that is helping them develop and implement plans that challenge them and actually get done.  If you’re interested in learning more about how I might be able to help you, contact me for a free strategy consultation to see if it might be a fit for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on planning – what works?  what doesn’t work?  Share your thoughts below.

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach