Sometimes I think a business plan is the biggest obstacle to actually getting things done.
And I realize that sounds strange coming from someone who has offered a webinar on productivity.
But it’s not the day-to-day to-do list type planning I’m referring to here. It’s the long-term forecast-type planning I mean.
Spending too much time trying to figure out how the future will play out might be the worst thing you can do for your business.
Business plan blues: How to feel overwhelmed and stuck, fast
Back in 2009, I took Copyblogger Media’s Teaching Sells course.
Six years later, I was working for Copyblogger, and teaching the Teaching Sells course. Just after reopening the doors to a new group of students — even though everyone was in the early days of the course — I was already seeing people get stuck.
The most common sticking point is that people want to know — in advance — if their plan will work.
And many times, they’re asking us, the instructors, to weigh in on their ideas.
And here’s the thing: we actually don’t own crystal balls. We may have a bit more experience, and may have seen many examples of what works, but we don’t actually know for sure.
Which may be a little disappointing to people. I mean, they signed up for this expensive course, and they’re putting the time in. Part of what they expect from the course is reassurance that their idea will work.
But you see, no one knows if an idea will work until it’s actually put into practice.
You have to move beyond your business plan and test your idea.
Ideas, when they aren’t combined with actions, are just concepts.
Business plans are two dimensional. They lay there. They can be pretty to look at, but they don’t really do anything.
Once you combine an idea with action, suddenly it comes to life!
It starts generating data. You see how people interact with your idea. You know what’s working, and what needs improvement.
Suddenly, your idea becomes a thing.
And that thing has a life.
Related: Business Focus: It’s Why Some People Triumph Online and Others Never Make It
Related: How to Build the Perfect Online Business for Your Current Life
Inject your business plan with life by taking action
When you’re in the early days of a business, trying to decide what to do, remember this:
Exactly what you do almost doesn’t matter. It’s the doing.
The only way to know is to do. The only way to find the path forward is to start putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll find your way. Just keep moving!
Embrace the beauty of the educated guess
It’s the best-kept secret of thriving businesses.
From the outside, the most successful businesses look like they have the ability to see the future. They know what’s coming, and they prepare for it with new technologies and products that are ready and waiting to usher in a new way of doing things.
But the truth is, everyone is making educated guesses.
No one really knows for sure what will work. Even companies with large research and development budgets and full teams of smart people working on predicting the future don’t know for sure what will work in the real world.
They make educated guesses.
And the more they take action, the more educated their guesses get.
But they’re still guesses.
This is counterintuitive, but it’s the way business works. There are no guarantees, only good guesses, taking action, and responding to what works and what needs adjusting.
Related: Focus in Business: How to Use the Power of Your Mind to Build Your Online Business Faster
Building a business is a messy but beautiful process
Forget about a business plan. There are no guarantees.
Cultivate an approach of making educated guesses, taking action, and making adjustments. That’s what really works.
Ask the right questions to create a business plan that works
To help you make educated guesses that work for your unique business, check out this article: How to Write a Winning Online Business Startup Plan in Less Than 20 Minutes.
13 thoughts on “Cultivate a Bold Approach, Not a Business Plan”
This message was exactly what I needed. Thanks so much.
You’re welcome, Grace. Thanks for stopping by!
Your post hit the nail on the head! I love planning but always fall short on the execution because I want things to be perfect. I recently adjusted my approach by identifying my big picture goals and creating monthly goals to put them into action. I still run into hiccups with wanting things perfect, but my next step is outsourcing tasks I’m prone to spend time on that I either don’t have the expertise or time to do. I’m hoping this new approach will help my business grow!
Elke, it sounds like you’ve found a way to break down your goals into actual steps. Smart! Now they’ll feel less daunting.
And outsourcing is an excellent idea, too. Did you ready Dave’s post? https://www.pamelawilson.com/get-ahead-business/
Good luck. And thanks for your comment. 🙂
I benefit from reading your posts precisely because I already know much of what you’re writing, it’s just that in the day to day process of running a small business it is easy to lose the core lessons & knowledge. So I appreciate the reminders that you send out. The “educated guesses” that you write about are a great example. Our business is driven largely by seasonal events; Christmas, Easter & Thanksgiving are our three busiest times of the year. We need to plan our production in terms of numbers, variety of products and when exactly we’re going to roll them out, not too early & never too late. Our educated guess is simply looking at what we sold last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, etc.) in order to nail the numbers in a coherent way. Other educated guesses are things like the weather, what day of the week did Christmas fall on, and so on. And yes, execution IS innovation, everything else is pie in the sky. Thank you for sharing these valuable reminders.
You’re welcome, David! So glad you stopped by to share your process: thank you.
Another great post and right on time for me! I’m ready to take the next step. Ready to build a product. Great work!
Thanks, Nadia. Best of luck!
Reached your blog through an article you wrote back at copyblogger. What i think is it’s all about implementation, only thinking about a plan and just day dreaming about it that it will work and drive success to you is useless.
You are unlikely to get any success if you don’t implement things and wait for results, it’s all about thinking less and practicing more.
Exactly: that’s the idea! Thanks for your comment, Allan.
Business really comes down to consistency, authenticity and familiarity. If you grade all things you write, say, post and create you’ll attain instantly recognizable AND trusted status sooner than you think.
Priyanka – https://www.foduu.com
This is great! I am addicted to planning and forget that it is ok to make mistakes. I’ve made some huge ones in the past and need to remember that the past does not equal the future. Learn and move on. Action is absolutely essential to move forward and you don’t know what works or doesn’t work unless you try something!
Honestly I’m stuck on my target audience. Although my original plan was to reach black women, all types of women (and men) started responding to my social media and coming to my events, plus using my materials. It’s good (I think) but it’s clear that my organization is evolving and who we Really reach is not who we say we reach on paper.
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