"When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal."
--- Napoleon Hill
Failure to plan is the reason given time and time again in history books for the defeat of an army or the demise of a business. The lack of proper planning has caused more death and destruction during natural and manmade disasters than most people realize. Overcrowded concert venues, faulty levies, structurally unsound bridges, and defective tires are just a few examples where poor planning contributed to devastating results.
In business, the results of a lack of planning might not show its ugly head until several months down the road, but you can count on it showing up. One of the most difficult tasks to perform for a business owner is proper planning. It is not that the act itself is so hard to get through, but it is finding the time and energy to do it.
"The starting point of great success and achievement has always been the same. It is for you to dream big dreams. There is nothing more important, and nothing that works faster than for you to cast off your own limitations than for you to begin dreaming and fantasizing about the wonderful things that you can become, have, and do."
--- Brian Tracy
I would like to suggest three simple techniques for getting your planning off the ground and to make it a lifelong habit. First, let yourself go. Allow your brain to take a mini vacation and dream a little. Fantasize about the future of your business.
The only effort you have to put forth in this exercise is to keep your dreams business-centered. It is easy for your mind to wander to other areas of life, but for now, just dream big business dreams. Dream what your business will look like five and ten years from now. Visualize every detail of how you would like the business to look and where it will be in the future.
"When I started out in business, I spent a great deal of time researching every detail that might be pertinent to the deal I was interested in making. I still do the same today. People often comment on how quickly I operate, but the reason I can move quickly is that I've done the background work first, which no one usually sees. I prepare myself thoroughly, and then when it is time to move ahead, I am ready to sprint."
Next, take your dreams and put them on paper. Describe the details of your dream and jot down some ideas of what it would take to get your business to those dream destinations.
"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle."
--- Sun Tzu
Understand your limitations and determine what you would have to do to overcome those them if you need to. This might involve taking classes, hiring people, or tweaking products and services to jive with your dreams.
"If you don't have daily objectives, you qualify as a dreamer."
--- Zig Ziglar
Finally, make planning a daily on-going task. Do it so often that it becomes a natural, required habit, like brushing your teeth. The more you do it, the easier planning will get and the more productive and secure your business will be.
"You can't overestimate the need to plan and prepare. In most of the mistakes I've made, there has been this common theme of inadequate planning beforehand. You really can't over-prepare in business!"
--- Chris Corrigan