As summer approaches, it reminds me of the time and effort we put into planning for our summer vacation.  It seems to always be a challenging discussion – how are we going to fit in all of the kids camps, lessons, friends, and events while still leaving time for some quality family time.  Not to mention that our work schedule must still continue!Planning-for-Business-Success1

By the time we’re done with the summer vacation planning, I need a vacation!  How about you?  Do you find the same thing to be true?

I was thinking about how a typical business owner handles the thought of planning.  Most spend more time, energy and focus on planning for their family summer vacation than they do planning for the success of their most important financial asset, their business.  For some reason, there never seems to be time to put together a plan!

So why is that?  Is it because your business just operates well without a plan?  Is it because the people on your team just instinctively know what to do and don’t need to have specific goals and objectives to accomplish?  Or is it because your customers just love what you do and continue to spend more and more of their hard earned money with you regardless of whether your are getting better at delivering good service to them?

My observation is that business owners who do not take time to plan for their business success are slaves to their business.  Their business really owns them – not the other way around.  They are trapped by the day-to-day routines of their business and can’t seem to find a way out.

The only way to significantly improve your business success is to take the time to PLAN for it.  So what should that take?  An hour, a day, a week?  Here’s a good rule of thumb:

Each day you should spend 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to make sure your ready for your next day.  This should not take long – just a quick glance ahead to make sure there are no surprises and that you are prepared.

Each week you should spend 1 hour before the week starts to plan out your week.  Look over your calendar, make sure you are working on the high-priority tasks, and focus your efforts this week on making small improvements in your business.

Each month you should set aside 3-4 hours to reflect on the results of the past month and identify the top 2-3 things you must get accomplished this next month to keep the momentum going in your business.  Consider this your “think time”.

Each quarter you should find a whole day to get out of your office or regular work environment and put a specific plan of action in place for the upcoming 13 weeks (the next quarter).  This should be in a written or visible form.  Consider creating a wall chart with the specific things you are going to accomplish mapped out on a week-by-week basis.  (If you’re interested in using this approach let me know and I can give you more details on how to put this together.)

For most business owners, the pace of change is so great, that planning for the next 90 days, the next quarter, is about as far out as you can reasonably see.  No need to go further – it will probably not have much relevance by the time you get there!

So, while you spend time these next few weeks thinking about your summer vacation plans, take time to put a plan together for your business as well.  Who knows, you may find that the more planning you do for your business, the bigger the trips you can take over the summer with your family!

Good luck with your planning.  Let me know if I can help.

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