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Planning NOT to Fail

by Maria Marsala
Elevating Your Business

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. -Alan Lakein

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

I've been using this adage several years to market my One Page Business Plan� services. It's simple and straightforward, and I know that it's true! I'm always amazed at the people who pay it lip service when I'm talking with them - and then do nothing else. Smart people, ambitious people, people who are excited and passionate about creating their own mini-empires - and yet they don't plan! And so I began to wonder why.

I can't address issues of motivation or psychological temperament, but I can share what I've seen among my clients and heard from countless other business owners over the years.

  1. Avoiding pain? Some people seem to dread the idea of writing a business plan. It makes them long for something less painful-such as a root canal! And that's too bad because the reality is that creating a plan for your business can be painless and, dare I say it, even fun! Most small business owners keep their plans in their own heads. Working through a planning process, such as the One Page Business Plan�, helps you get your plan on paper and that is the first step towards making a "dream" real. And that leads us to.

  2. Write it down. Your plan is only as good as the paper it's written on. No written plan = no plan at all. I can't emphasize enough the importance of a written plan to a successful business. I've talked to way too many business owners who tell me, "I don't need to plan because it's all in my head and I'm keeping track just fine, thanks." And you know, this may be true for brand new businesses or very, very small businesses. But here's the problem: Your want your business to grow beyond your capability to keep track of every little detail. Don't you? You want to be able to vacation without your business falling apart, right?

    Maybe you plan to retire someday or sell your business - how can you turn it over if it's only in your head?

    Many business owners believe they don't need a business plan unless they are seeking funding. You can certainly make the case that having a plan is even more important when it is YOUR money, your dreams, and your livelihood at risk!

    A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow - Proverb

    What I suspect happens is that well-intentioned people start off without a plan and figure that they'll create one when their business grows or they start hiring people. What I say is that it's just about too late then and that often leads to.

  3. Overwhelm. It's a buzz word, right now, I know, but it speaks to a large group of people, many of whom have found their way to my door. Not enough time, not enough money, too many commitments, too much stress. They have no balance between their personal life and work life; it all blends together. Almost invariably, these folks don't a formal plan, or if they do, they created it once and never looked at it again.

    A business plan is a blueprint for your business to follow. The best plans help you monitor your business and set priorities. They help you determine what you're going to do on a given day, week, or month. Business owners can look at presented opportunities based on how well those opportunities fit into their vision and just say "no" to all the rest. Having and using your business plan will also help you distinguish between dreams and.

  4. Goals. Goals are not pipe-dreams or wish lists. They are realistic and achievable. How do you test for realism? When you've completed your planning process, you'll have identified the key objectives you're trying to reach, and have strategies and action plans to reach them. When you pair a goal with strategies and action plans, they must be in alignment. If one area is off-kilter, then your expectations of what you could do might be too high -- or more likely-- too low. Note that you'll only see this when your plan is out of your head and on paper!

    Goals are not dreams. Goals are what will keep you going on a day you just don't want to go into the office. They will compel you to try new things or continue doing what's working. Goals are not things you write down just to have written down some goals. They're important. Your goals must make sense, have due dates, have numbers tied to them that you can monitor and catch things when they're not working. Eventually, you'll be able to make decisions and set priorities just by looking at your plan every day.

    The best business plans help you monitor your business and set priorities. They help you manage your time, so you can schedule what's important and not just the crisis-du-jour. And in the case of the One Page Business Plan� process, you end up creating a marketing plan as well as a business plan - all on one page! Wondering how to get started? How about..

  5. Step 1. Before you even sit down to write a plan, do some dreaming... Think about sitting at your desk a year from now... what do you want to be celebrating professionally? Personally? If money or time or hiring employees isn't a problem, what do you want your business to look like a year from now? Just write it all down... don't edit yourself or worry about your spelling. What would life be like if you achieved your goals? Look like, feel like...

    If you can see a vision of what your business and life could be in the best of all possibilities, you have taken the first step towards achieving that vision. But don't stop there! Create your business plan and if you already have one that's fallen into disrepair, fix it! Let this useful, living, breathing, document ensure that you're planning NOT to fail!

Copyright 1998-2007, Elevating Your Business

Maria Marsala, a licensed One Page Business Plan� consultant, draws on her Wall Street trading experience and 30-plus years of business success to help business owners nationwide. Her specialty is helping business owners automate and streamline the parts of business they too often ignore-planning, administration, operations. Maria helps service business owners and professionals quickly increase their bottom line by developing systems that work, creating information products, and building a profitable Internet presence. She's written more than 200 business and Internet articles and has has appeared on TV & radio shows on both coasts. Her most recent venture is the "Small Business Advisor in A Box: Corporate Secrets for Business Profits" system.

Copyright 1998-2007, Elevating Your Business

Maria Marsala
Elevating Your Business

19906 Hamilton CT NE Suite A
Poulsbo, WA 98370
Phone 360-271-8418

A former Wall Street trader, Maria Marsala, Business Strategist and Trainer, helps women with independent micro, small to mid-size businesses and branch managers to boost profits, productivity and have more playtime � faster! Subscribe to Powerful Business Strategies Ezine to download a one-page business and marketing plan MP3 and create your business vision statement.

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