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.
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.
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.