When I started my drapery-making business here 20-odd years ago, I was fortunate enough to get into the Community Futures program. One of the first things I was tasked with doing was a business plan. That almost did me in. How was I supposed to project revenue? What did that even mean? But I did it. And it was the smartest thing I ever did for my business.
It was a plan. It laid out the desired route from here to there, and it helped me anticipate any difficulties I might have along the way. I even had to calculate how much garbage the business might create and make sure I could use the local garbage pickup for that, or if I’d have to take it away myself. — Think time, car usage, money for the gate lady…
It was an eye-opening experience and I’m positive it was one of the major reasons I was successful.
As a side gig, I started to do some pretty complicated baking; macarons, lacey, blistering hot syrupy cone things to hold the ceviche, vegan chocolate cake, the Opera cake that had about 50 steps, and almost as many ingredients. I knew going in that if I didn’t follow the recipes, I’d run a high risk of failure. What’s a recipe? It’s a plan.
Every once in a while I sew something new. Made a hat last week. I got the pattern out, looked at the pieces, and read the directions. The plan. I knew If I just winged it, there was a good chance it wouldn’t go together like it was supposed to.
Little wins need a plan. Big wins need a plan.
Going to town for groceries usually involves a plan, sometimes with only two steps, but they are there for a reason. They help ensure success. For example: stop at the grocery store last so the frozen things stay frozen till I get home.
But the pitfall of a plan, the one I see so often, is that if the plan falls apart, or has unanticipated hurdles, too often the resulting action is to abandon the plan, rather than stop, re-think and re-plan.
If the cake doesn’t rise to the occasion, make a sauce and call it a pudding.
Stopping, rethinking, and re-planning in itself is a new plan. Crikey, I know… But the astounding thing about this is that you will feel better about yourself just for the rethinking.
That, in itself, is a win. And it’s all about the wins.
My most visited topic lately is decluttering. I write about it a fair bit, and I have written a book about it, which was quite a planning production in itself. But the astounding thing I see over and over is that a plan is a predictor of success. Not having a plan is a predictor of failure. A plan is not ‘let’s bake a cake’, or ‘let’s declutter the hall closet’.
A plan is a detailed roadmap of how to get from here to where you want to be.
“When life goes according to plan, you feel calm and in control. By planning — and working the plan — you get better at planning, and you reap both the intellectual and emotional rewards of that.” ( Jean Morony, Thinking Directions.com “What’s the Value of Planning”).
I’m planning on doing more writing about planning.