Failing to plan is planning to fail. You’ve heard this saying before, but — like all pieces of timeless wisdom — it’s still around because there will always be those that don’t heed the warning.
This saying directly applies to us: the leaders of small businesses in the demand service industry.
By now, after a career spent in the trades, we ought to know what surprises to expect. But year after year, I hear business owners complain about the same old things, including slow seasons, not enough calls, and inclement weather.
There are even complaints about expected and reoccurring events, such as lulls in business during the holidays. This seems ridiculous, but I understand, because I used to experience similar issues with our business. I simply failed to plan for them.
Most businesses start with a business plan. But once that first plan is laid out, and the bank has issued the loan, and the investors have given their seed money, many business owners never create a plan again. Doesn’t that seem odd?
It seems odd to me, now. Yet I know we’ve all heard and bought into the stories of entrepreneurs that threw caution to the wind, started their business and figured it out as they went along.
Don’t get me wrong —those are romantic stories. They’re so romantic, in fact, that many start-up business stories seem just like movies — they make your heart race; they make you wonder, “What if I could do that too?”
But here’s the thing: just like a movie, these instant-success stories don’t show you the footage that’s left on the cutting-room floor.
You don’t see all the retakes; you don’t see the behind-the-scenes support needed to make it happen. You definitely don’t see all the planning. Yet we know the planning happened.
Movies don’t just put cameras in front of their stars, start filming, and “wing it.” Extensive planning is involved. How long would you sit through a movie that clearly had no script, for instance?
Who wants to work for a company that’s just winging it? How many employees will follow you down an unplanned path? How long will they stay with you?
It’s incredibly irresponsible to go into another business year without a plan. Heck, it’s tough to go into this week without a plan!
Successful businesses, like Hollywood movies, involve incredible amounts of planning. There will always be key factors to creating a successful plan:
- Have accurate and timely reporting on your business’s current performance.
- Enlist a third party to help you check your blind spots.
- Schedule follow-up check-ins with the third party on your progress.
Become the star of your own summer blockbuster, but don’t wait until the spring to prepare — start planning your business’s next steps now.