I’m sure my business partner is looking at the title of this post and cleaning the chi tea off of her computer screen as she chokes and digests the fact that I actually am blogging about the importance of planning. Maybe I should warn her….nah, what’s the fun in that, and besides it’s fun making her spit things all over 🙂 !
You on the other hand are probably reading this and wondering why she’s spitting, and choking right now. Truthfully, the fact is that having me as a business partner isn’t the easiest thing, and I’m fortunate that she “gets” me enough to stick around.
You see, I’m a go with the flow, seize the moment kind of gal, and for the most part it works for me. However, since re-organizing our business in 2011 to accommodate my “Army lifestyle”, I find myself understanding the importance of a plan. [Yeah yeah she’s probably yelling at her computer right now saying I told you so, but I’m still laughing at the fact that she’s wearing Chi]
Going with the flow worked right up until we began transitioning everything from face to face interaction to online interaction. It worked right up until I understood that building a speaking reputation every 3 years in a new city would be VERY difficult and would always feels like I’m starting over. It worked right up until I found my stress level rising, my productivity waffling and my balance sheets looking like swiss cheese. Yeah it worked right up until it didn’t.
Up until the “untils” I really felt that putting together some sort of business plan would take the creativity and spontaneity out of my business. I thrive on last-minute opportunities, in face it’s when I do my best work. But an interesting series of reality checks hit me that were really a string of “coulda had a V8″ moments, and here they are:
Reality Check #1 : Business and marketing has changed over the last 5 years and I had better “get with the times”.
It took me a while to admit it, but the way I had built my past successes had very much to do with my one on one sales and people skills. And things are different now. With the constant moves and my clients need to access their products and services online, I realized that if we were going to succeed, I had to change my tactics. I had to learn how to market and sell online which is a WHOLE different ballgame than personal sales!
Reality Check #2: There is such a thing as planned spontaneity
Capitalizing on opportunity and acting quickly is SO important especially with todays access to the internet. In seconds you learn about multiple products and decide in an instant if it’s a fit. Everything is spontaneous, and therefore as a small business owner you must plan on how you will be easily accessible AND appealing to your target audience in THEIR spontaneous moments. And “v8 moment”, if you don’t already have a plan, it may be too late to develop one….kinda like you snooze you lose only in hyperdrive. Lesson learned, plan for spontaneity and preparation is the key!
Reality Check #3: My Biz partner was right, having a plan is a must.
I think this is the place where I eat my humble pie and say thankyou. But really by having a plan, I now have a “guide” that will keep me on track. I can use it like a map to make sure I’m on course and heading to my final destination (a.k.a. my goals), and I can do so in a way that doesn’t make me anxious or second guess what actions I am taking. News flash, and my business partner may just for a moment know what the heck I am up to…what a concept right!?!
Now don’t worry, I didn’t “lose my marbles”, but what I did do is that when putting together my over-all plan, I allow for lots of flexibility, which took the pressure of having one off my shoulders and makes it easy to know what activities to fill my day with.
Reality Check #4: I can create a plan that is “Judy-ized”
I think this is the biggest key to my being willing and able to create any type of plan at all. What I ended up creating is very different from a traditional business plan. I “Judy-ized” it. It is truly a work of art if I do say so myself. It has “me” written all over it with graphics, and colors and sections and columns. It’s written in my voice with my headings, and while it isn’t traditional, it has the key components of a true business plan and most importantly it is easy to glance at and use.
I never understood why you would have or want a business plan that is formal and blah. But when I let go of that and created MY plan an amazing thing occurred. I could see at a glance what was working and what really wasn’t. I could be critical of my faults, while at the same time seeing where changes needed to be made. And it was refreshing. When I finished right there in front of my eyes was the truth, and from there I can grow.
Planning wasn’t the problem, it was trying to put MY plan into someone elses template that was the issue. And while there is much to be said for spontaneous business, in this fast-moving marketplace without a plan you won’t get any opportunities. So if you don’t have a plan, take the time to make one, I promise it will help your business explode!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com