When I’m counselling business owners, I ask if they have a plan. I often hear what their goals are, with little thought put into how they will achieve them.

“Plan” and “goal” are not synonymous.

Phil: Joshua, what’s your plan for the publishing company next year?

Joshua: We’re going to create a new non-fiction book division and hopefully see profits increase by 20%.

Phil: How are you going to do that? Are you equipped to do that?

Joshua: That’s a good question. I think so. I don’t know. Anyway, that’s the plan.

Phil: Those are the goals. You have no plan.

Don’t get me wrong.

Goals are important. Without them, there is no call for a plan. I stress to clients that they should have both short- and long-term goals.

Without goals, why is everybody showing up for work in the morning? They are the single best tangible measure of your success and play a significant part in defining your success and the philosophy behind where you want to take the company.

Your goals should cover both your personal and professional lives. The success of your business will be the central driver in achieving your personal goals. For example, if you’re looking for financial freedom when you’re retired, decisions you make today will absolutely have an effect on your later years.

It’s been my experience that those people who set goals and focus on them achieve much more success and personal satisfaction than people who just show up to work for “another day at the office.”

Goals — and the level to which they are reached — allow people to determine their own level of success and not let it be defined by others.


The Plan

Whether you are in the early days of a start-up or have been running the family business for four generations, you need to be constantly planning.

I like to think of a plan as simply a strategy to manage change. Without proper planning, you won’t last long in business because things are constantly changing and, today, that happens faster than ever.

If you’ve taken on board the tenets to date in this series of articles, your awareness will have grown: that change, and the motivation and mindset to see it through, are necessary. Some people have these things but don’t stop to craft a plan.

A business with no plan is a plan for failure.

The easiest analogy I can provide for a plan is that it is a roadmap. You need a destination and must figure out the best way to get where you want to go. A plan can do many things:

  • Solve problems along the way
  • Provide a direction/path for the business
  • Address operational needs (marketing, HR, finance, etc.)
  • Establish milestones
  • Serve as a clarity reference point
  • Act as a guide that anybody can follow, not just the creator of it

A plan does not have to be a 60-page document that gets into the hour-by-hour details of how your office is going to run. It can be as simple as a single sheet of paper that highlights a problem and what your basic strategy will be to manage that problem.

This is where the Knowledge aspect (which we examined in article 6) also comes into play. Do you know how to craft a plan to handle the problem your plan needs to solve?

It can be done on your own, but most people I’ve seen don’t have the skill set to develop a proper plan. As an owner or leader, it’s one of the most crucial tasks in your job description; so if you don’t know how to formulate a plan, get help.