Planning can be one of the biggest threats to your business. How do you do less of it, so that you can grow your business faster?
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The Perils of Planning
Over-planning is one of the most common pitfalls that rob entrepreneurs of startup opportunities. Spending too much time planning once you’ve made it up and running can be very costly and can self-sabotage even big and well-funded corporations.
The most notable risk is wasting time. Time is your most valuable asset. It’s priceless. Wasted time cannot be regained. Losing time means many startup ideas never get off the ground. If they do, they’ve often already lost their best competitive advantages due to taking too long.
More and more time wasted in planning means moving slower than the competition, failing to seize on important opportunities, and more hurdles to revenues, profits, and retaining top talent.
What’s really sad is that over-engineering on business planning is almost invariably a waste of time. Most medium-term plans never workout. Things change so fast. They change because of the markets, the investors brought in, customer behavior, and because you are constantly learning and iterating in a live and fluid environment. By the time some are done planning, everything has already changed.
So, how do you still manage to build a successful and fast-growing business, without being a victim of your own planning? This is the typical question that some of the top startup accelerators like Alejandro Cremades ask their startups.
Meetings are probably the number one planning issue and point of waste and loss. Just say no to meetings.
For every 100 times you think you need a meeting, you probably only need 1. All of the rest are a gross waste of time, energy, and money.
Even for a funded startup, hosting as many as five team meetings, and making room for 4 follow up meetings for revisions to create one video script is insane. No matter how big your last round was, you can’t move fast enough and stay competitive like that. You can’t afford the financial bleed either.
If that’s the way you try to work, many potential hires and others simply won’t take you seriously.
Don’t have a conference room, don’t do frequent conference calls, and don’t Zoom.
Use a One Page Business Plan
Next to meetings, creating business plans is likely the next biggest pitfall when it comes to planning.
You should have a plan. You just don’t need a heavy, voluminous plan that takes up many pages. Long business plans never get read. Not by investors, lenders, or potential partners. Not even you will want to re-read it.
Long is slow. Slow is bad.
For it to be useful and effective, it needs to be brief. In fact, you can be wildly successful and build a multi-billion dollar company with just a one-page business plan. If you can do it with one page, any more than that is just splurging.
Use a one-pager and an executive summary. That will get you everything you need to get off the ground and growing.
Use A Pitch Deck Template
A pitch deck can be useful for business planning, gaining clarity and focus, attracting advisors and top talent, as well as fundraising.
There is a lot of hype and content out there about how to create a great pitch deck, how long it should be, what it should look like, and what should be in it. Most of it is not written based on experience.
Cut through all the junk and time drain by using a proven pitch deck template and just by filling in the blanks with your own information.
Get A Simple Action Plan
What you do is far more important than a distant plan. Boil everything else down to a five bullet-point action list for you and your team. Not much else is going to matter or consider until you get those next five things done. Cross those off, and then add 5 more.
Focus On The One Thing
Even five things on your to-do list are too much. The shift from planning to doing and accelerating the growth of your business by just focusing on the one next thing. What is the only single most important thing you can do next? The one thing will bring the most value, growth, and return on your time? Whatever it is, do that.
Long Term Vision, Short Term Goals
Be clear on and committed to the big, long-term vision. Focus on achieving short-term goals. Leave a lot of room in the middle to be flexible. So much will change that trying to plan every detail for the next 10 years can be futile. Trying to do that will lead to a lot of frustration when you need to make changes and things don’t go according to plan. Save yourself from that.
As Bill Gates states people overestimate what they can accomplish in one year but they ultimately under-estimate what they can do in ten years. For this reason, it is critical to have all types of deadlines in place.
Give Yourself Deadlines
Give yourself planning deadlines. Allow X number of days for research. Y number of days for putting the actual plan together, and then, commit to moving to action by day Z, no matter what.
In addition to giving yourself important deadlines, you should try to visualize them. The power of visualizing should not be underestimated. By having the specific picture in your mind of what you are trying to accomplish and having your team rallying around it the sky will ultimately be the only limit.
Empower & Delegate
99.99% of meetings would be irrelevant and needless if teams were more empowered. Department related planning should happen within that department and be delegated as far down as possible. The more you let others plan and make decisions on what they need to do, the faster the rest of the company can move, and the faster you can grow your business.