Is Business Planning Really That Difficult?

Planning is a strength of mine. It’s a strength that I’ve worked hard to develop. Whether a client is good at planning or not, I can usually contribute knowledge, expertise, and skill to their business or marketing planning activities that they do not have. That’s fine.

But the more I develop my planning services, the more I’m finding clients who are generally capable of planning within their own areas of expertise, but become paralyzed when it comes to planning their business or marketing activities over a significant (a year or more) length of time. They may or may not know where they are and they may or may not know where they want to go, either way they have no idea how to get from here to there.

Is this common? Is this something you’ve experienced? What do you think would help?

I’m in the process of creating a business planning e-book (shorter than a full length book, regardless of how it’s transmitted) for both writers and solopreneurs. I have plans to create a similar e-book about marketing planning, again one for writers and one for solopreneurs.

The question I ask is this: Do I need to discuss or explore the act of planning itself?

In order to create an effective marketing campaign, whether it’s for your business or for an individual product, like a book, you need to plan it out ahead of time. Marketing is cumulative. If you don’t plan how different activities will accumulate, then you may end up taking people in different, scattered directions that never actually get anywhere. Planning—effective planning—is the solution to this problem.

But is planning something that’s actually being taught? I’ve tried, but I cannot for the life of me remember how I learned to plan. I learned the different components of a traditional business plan in business school, but I throw out or add to that set of components whenever it’s appropriate. The act of planning is something different. I imagine I picked it up by example and tried different techniques until I found ones that worked. I know I’ve made plans that have gone terribly awry, but I also know that few of my more recent (last several years) plans have failed, at least not in the long-term.

The key difference is basing plans on what’s within one’s control and having goals that can be reached in a variety of ways, depending on how things turn out. But again, it comes back to the act of planning.

What do you know? What do you need to learn? Where do you go wrong? Is there a way I can help?

 

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About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces ComeSootheYourAchingSoul.com in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of www.StephanieAllenCrist.com and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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6 Responses to Is Business Planning Really That Difficult?

  1. acflory says:

    Mmm… I suspect there are planners born, and then there are the rest of us. I don’t plan. If I’m doing something I understand well, I tend to know what needs to be done and do it [if I can]. If I’m doing something new, I tend to research it until I feel fairly confident that I understand the basics – then I start doing and learn from my mistakes.
    Why do I shy away from a formal plan? Because I’m anal; to me, plans have to be followed otherwise what’s the point? But plans-which-must-be-followed can something include logical, but impossible must-do’s. As an anal person I’d feel obliged to knock myself out trying to do the impossible.
    These days I do what I can, when I can and leave it at that. Not good business practice, I know, but it’s /sane/ business practice for me.

    • Okay, so I’m a planner born? I don’t think so. When I decided to go back to college, it was so on-impulse that I made the decision and signed up with a school in under a day.

      In my writing, the only reason I started as a planner was because my brain worked so much faster than my fingers that the ideas came more quickly than I could write them out. I learned that if I didn’t write things down, I’d lose them.

      If I was born anything, then it was forgetful and flighty. I became a planner because I didn’t much care for the results “forgetful and flighty” got me in my writing or my life.

      More to the point, plans aren’t supposed to be concrete. I get being anal. I do. The ONLY way I got over my tendency to be a perfectionist was because I had three children–wonderful, beautiful, precious children–that turned my life into absolute chaos for years. I get being anal, but I also know that you can learn to let go of it, sometimes kicking and screaming, but letting go nonetheless.

      If any of us were prophets or psychics, then sure we could plan plans that didn’t need to be flexible. But, we’re not. Opportunities come and we have to seize them. Things go awry and we have to fix them. THAT’S OKAY!!! Really, it is. A plan can still guide us.

      Have you ever read Stephen Covey’s “First Things First”? He has a system that like’s like a plan, but more so and less so all at the same time.

      • acflory says:

        I’m not against plans at all, I guess I’ve just come to believe that sometimes it’s better to go in blind – perhaps because if you really thought things through, you’d get so scared you’d never move again. And no, I haven’t read “First Things First”. 🙂

      • For me, it’s just the opposite. Having a big goal without a plan is much scarier than having a plan for achieving the big goal. Besides, having a plan makes it much easier to ignore all the naysayers that inevitably crop up in my life.

      • acflory says:

        -grin- Maybe I’ve just become more impulsive in my old age or something!

      • Maybe, but impulsive still works best when you know where you want to get to, eventually, in the long term.

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