What’s Your Plan?

We really are creatures of habit, aren’t we?

We humans have become extremely proficient at developing routines. We find comfort in the expected, so much so that we rely on it. We become dependent on it. Our expectations start to revolve around systematic events over which we have no control. We fall into a rut and set ourselves up for disaster.

Because, what happens when the routine breaks down? What happens when that email we’ve come to expect every Monday morning doesn’t arrive on time? How do we respond when the friend or coworker that’s been so reliable suddenly isn’t there for us anymore? What are we to do when the customer we were counting on to make our monthly numbers takes their business elsewhere?

I don’t mind a good surprise now and then, but there are some things I like to have control over. When it comes to running (and growing) my business, I don’t want to be so dependent on things outside of my control that a surprise break in the routine can cause chaos. That’s where a good strategic plan comes in.

I’ve said before that “hope is not a strategy.” However, that’s exactly how many leaders run their business. They sit back and hope enough new business will walk through the door to make their numbers. Others rely on assumptions. They assume the same customers will always come through. They assume market conditions will remain favorable. Things have always worked out in the past, so they just assume things always will.

Hope and assumptions are not sound business strategies. Having a plan is. A strategic plan outlines the results you want and the steps you and your team must take in order to achieve those results. There is no hope or assumption involved. There is action – specific, measurable action that, when executed properly, virtually guarantees your success.

A lot of leaders will say they have a strategic plan in place. Few actually do. Oh, some may have a few ideas written down on a piece of paper somewhere – typically because they’ve been forced to by someone up the food chain; but I rarely meet teams who have proper strategic plan.

A simple strategic plan includes three components.

1. Goals. What is it the team is trying to achieve?

2. Actions. What has to happen in order for the goal to be achieved?

3. Accountabilities. Who is responsible for executing the identified actions?

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to walk through the process of putting together a strategic plan. I’ll give you some tips for writing your first plan, or for plugging some holes that might exist in an existing one. You can follow along and have a basic strategic plan for the rest of the year completed by the end of August.

It’s not too late to take control of your year. It’s not too late to break away from the routines that might be holding you back. Now is the time to stop hoping, stop assuming, and lead your team across the finish line in championship fashion.

Now is the time to make success a habit.

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