The Best Laid Plans…

29 November 2014
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Categories: Dollars & Sense

As we look continue to look at the relationship between ideas and wealth, I think it is important to consider the planning process.  My past experiences with planning could be comedic if it weren’t for the fact that I suffered as a result!  Sometimes the plan would be scuttled shortly after starting the project, other times my goal was so lofty that it would be nearly impossible to reach (and therefore the project sadly withered away), or I got so embroiled in planning that the plan became a fruitless project of its own.  See, this is what happens when a creative person becomes an accidental entrepreneur!  So let’s learn from my mistakes, shall we, and talk about what good planning is.

To me, a good plan has three components:

  1. the plan itself was made quickly,
  2. the path to bringing the idea to life is short, and
  3. the existing idea is pretty much like you envisioned it to be.

With these three things in mind, here are my principles of good planning:

Plan fast.  I think it’s safe to say that most small business ideas can be mapped out on a napkin over lunch.  If the planning session is taking longer than lunch and / or more than one napkin, check with yourself to make sure that you aren’t over thinking the project.  Sure there are details, but the overall game plan can be mapped out quickly, and then preferably delegated to someone else to work out the details.

Don’t make it complicated.  Remember: more complex = more steps = potentially more bottlenecks = more things that can go wrong = delays, delays, delays = longer time to complete.

Focus on good enough.  At what point do you reach satisfactory outcome for minimal effort?  Developers and manufacturers call this the minimal viable product: the point at which the product solves the problem for the customer without additional bells and whistles.  For example, you have an idea for a nice mailer.  After getting the budget / the graphic design is too detailed.

What is the real outcome you want?  What do you really need?  What is important?  The other day I was on the subway and a tourist was asking how to transfer to the E train.  I and other passengers started to tell him what to do, but when he revealed his destination, the story changed and we realized that he would get there faster by a different route.  He needed to know how to get to the World Trade Center, not how to get to the E train.  So don’t get too hung up on technique, do worry about destination.

If you get stuck, program your internal computer for the destination with the desired outcome*, then go for a bike ride to Long Island**.  Over the course of the ride, your subconscious will go to work on the problem and you’ll likely have the solution by the time you’re done.

By now, if you’ve been following this series, you should have a few business improving / wealth generating ideas listed, and also know the order in which you want to do them.  Why not take the next step by giving yourself a coffee break at a diner, grabbing a napkin, and plotting the key steps to bringing that idea to life.


*  I recommend you read “How Your Automatic Success Mechanism Works” and “Understanding the Two General Types of Servo-Mechanisms” from Psycho-Cybernetics to understand the importance of this.

** My choice for getting myself and my head away from it all.  I kind of understand if it’s not your thing, but I’m sure there’s something you love doing that has the same effect–golf, crafts, cooking, woodworking, etc.