Just about everyone has a dream of starting their own business. A smaller number of people have a plan for starting their own business. But far fewer people ever manage to take that plan and turn it into a business.
But by that point, you’ve got it made, right? You’ve got a plan, and you’ve got the business, everything should just fall into place from there, right?
As 45% of business owners (and 99% of people who run for president) could tell you, having a plan is perhaps the smallest part of success.
Sure, you need a plan, you really can’t go anywhere without one, but more importantly, you need to execute that plan. That means not just opening a business, but continuing to carry out and update your plan. Here’s what executing your business plan correctly actually looks like.
Plans Are The Seed
None of this is to say that plans aren’t necessary. Having a plan and being proactive are big parts of running a successful business, so you should absolutely have a plan, and contingency plans for major obstacles or crises that may occur.
Once your plan is in motion, though, the most important thing is being able to adapt it. If your plan relies on circumstances unfolding in an exactly ideal way, it’s not a plan, it’s a dream. If your plan can’t be changed as new opportunities or challenges arise, it’s not a plan, it’s an itinerary for failure.
Start with a plan, adjust your plan regularly, but at no point should you assume that the plan alone will make you successful.
Execution Is Planting The Seed
Once you have your plan, you need to execute it. This is the hard part, both physically and emotionally.
Executing your plan means stepping out of your comfort zone. No matter how well you’ve planned, that first step will always be difficult and a bit scary. The most important thing is that you make yourself do it, and sooner rather than later.
It can be easy to tell yourself that you’ll take the first step once you’ve planned for every eventuality, but there’s no way to plan for every possible thing that could happen. So if you wait too long, or plan too long you’ll never be able to execute your plan and actually get your business off the ground.
Even worse, in all the time you spend planning, someone with less of a plan, maybe even a worse plan could come along and start the business that you dreamed of.
No Plan Is Perfect
The other reason not to spend your whole life planning is that your plan will fail at some point. It will fail in ways that you might have planned for, and it will fail in ways you could never have seen coming.
It’s important to realize that your plan failing is nowhere near the same thing as your business failing. Your business is in the execution. Being able to adapt your business by coming up with new plans as the situation demands is what will make you successful.
The other thing to be mindful of is that your mind is afraid of failing on some level. Your plan is perfect so long as it is never executed, and so to protect itself from failure, or having come up with an imperfect idea, your mind may hesitate and throw up roadblocks and excuses for why you should wait to execute your plan.
One of the biggest hurdles you will face in executing your plan is accepting that it is not perfect and that refusing to execute your plan means that it’s failed before it can even be attempted.
Executing Means Creating New Plans
Once your business is in motion, it will face challenges that require you to make new plans, that’s a given.
More importantly, actually running your business is going to give you experience and information that you would never have had access to while you were still planning. Once you have this information, running a successful business means using that information to make new plans before something is wrong with the old ones.
As you execute your business, you’ll see new opportunities, and clinging to an old plan rather than executing a new one could mean not just missing out, but failing entirely.
You may also discover that your plan isn’t adequate to the heights your business could reach. What started as an idea for a single location could become a chain. What had been an idea for a single service could be a revolutionary suite of tools.
Recognizing that your business could be more than you planned might require a new plan, but more importantly, it means executing those new plans.
ABE (Always Be Executing)
Every new opportunity, and every new challenge, regardless of whether you had the time and resources to plan for it, requires execution. You should be proactive, but more importantly, you should be active.
No matter how much your business grows, and no matter how far you’ve come, there’s always the danger of winding up back where you started: with a plan that you’re not executing. You should always be mindful of whether your planning is work that you’re doing on the business or just an excuse to hold off on executing the next thing.
The good news is that this will get easier. Once you’ve taken the first step, the next step is more manageable. Once you’ve made a habit of decisive action, the danger of falling into the planning trap is greatly decreased.
Entrepreneurs fail because they fail to execute. Some fail without even having tried, others fail because they want to preserve their plan instead of safeguarding their business.
The most important skill you can learn is how to recognize when you have enough information to act. More often than not, it’s less than you think.