Do You Put a Business Plan in Writing Each Year?

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2009 will be over in a blink. I like this time of year because it is an opportunity to look back and reflect—and then plan forward. But that’s me. It’s seems that some folks are natural-born planners. At the other extreme, there are those who avoid planning like the plague.

Here are some of the attitudes and comments I have uncovered about the exercise of “planning” over the years:

  • So much changes in a year, a written plan is pointless.
  • I’ve never planned, and I’m doing just fine. Why start now?
  • I don’t want to plan because I would disappoint myself if I didn’t achieve what I had put in writing.
  • Taking life as it comes provides spontaneity—as opposed to being constrained by a plan.
  • I don’t plan because . . . well . . . just because. I guess I never formed a habit.
  • There is never time to plan.
  • Planning seems cumbersome.
  • I don’t really know how to plan. All the planning jargon turns me off.
  • Planning involves wishing for more. I don’t expect more.
  • I’m lucky to have what I have now. I don’t deserve more.
  • Planning is good, but I don’t make it a priority, so I just never get around to it.
  • It’s too much work for the result.

 On the other hand, there are those who say planning:

  • Helps me get focused. I look forward to the planning process.
  • Helps me decide what I want to be when I grow up.
  • Is a way to involve and motivate staff with shared goals.
  • Is more business-like, and I want to be more of a business.
  • Integrates my words and my actions.
  • Helps me anticipate the future—even the unknown future.
  • Helps me be more thankful for what I’ve got and not take things for granted.
  • Helps me decide where to invest in my company.
  • Increases the probability that I will get things done.
  • Bridges the gap between the present and the future.
  • Causes me to get focused and clear about what I most want.
  • Helps me allocate time and budget.

What leads us to have different perceptions about planning? I guess we are all products of our upbringing. I’m one of those people who senses an obligation for maximizing what I can do with my time and energy. Perhaps I plan because I feel a responsibility to do so.

Clearly, there is no right or wrong perspective. But as the number of staff in an organization grows, a practice evolves into a business and a solo becomes an ensemble. The value of aligning folks in the same general direction is a good idea.

For those who, like me, are planners, the last few weeks of the year is a time to energize your staff, colleagues, and yourself. I say: Enjoy the process. Dream about what can be, and then put a foundation under those dreams with a game plan.

Joni Youngwirth
Managing Principle of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

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