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Why you won’t do a quarterly plan, budget or annual plan

“That was hard work!” Dennis one of my business coaching clients commented after he just about finished their quarterly plan for the remainder of 2008, “and we’re still not done!”
It was a telling comment, and perhaps the biggest reason why most mid-sized and certainly small businesses never do a quarterly plan and why most businesses don’t do an annual plan or even do a budget.
The last numbers I heard for businesses who complete budgets was somewhere south of 10%. Another number that startled me was 12%. That’s the number of businesses who actually take initiative on their strategic planning work. Imagine doing all the work for strategic planning, possibly hiring a business consultant to help and then not taking any actions to implement. 
Is it any wonder that businesses fail to meet the expectations of their employees and customers when most fail to plan and even when they do plan they fail to implement their intentions? There’s a quote often offered, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Yet most of us don’t take the time to plan a week, a day, a month, let alone the quarter and year.
Now is the time you need to begin thinking about next year. What will be your excuse for not planning? Is it because you don’t believe it will help, or you’ve done it before and failed miserably either at implementing the plan or simply did the work and never reviewed or updated it again. 
The problem for many of us is that we say “why plan?” you know it’s never going to work out exactly as you plan it anyway. Yet how many of us will plan a vacation and spend more time mapping our directions, getting hotel rooms, plane reservations, even where we will eat or play, than we do our business for the year.  If something comes up to detour the exact timing of events we don’t just give up and say, well I knew it would never work out as I planned, I’m just not going to go on vacation then! You don’t pack up and go home, you make adjustments to include everything you had planned, just delayed or adapted to fit the new time line or circumstances.
Most of us become cynics in our business. We don’t approach our business with the same enthusiasm and excitement that we would our vacation. Michael Gerber offered a good definition of a cynic. He said, “A cynic isn’t someone who doesn’t care, a cynic is someone who cares too much. Cynics find a way to avoid the pain by not appearing to let things matter too much to them.”
We fear disappointments; they’re a constant in business. We face rejection, humiliation, mistakes, defeats, even major calamities every single day. The budget or plan is just another opportunity to face disappointment straight in the eye, and so rather than make a plan we decide we’d prefer to avoid the pain, by not planning at all.
A Harvard business study showed that 85% of our success in life comes from a positive attitude. It also showed that the 3-5% of people who planned and set goals for their life upon graduation from college achieved or surpassed their goals. People who plan succeed. Is it a straight path directly to their goal?  Never, yet having a plan provides them with the options and direction they need in order to adjust, persist and commit to reaching their objective.
It’s hard work to plan, and yet I’ll bet every one of us can remember one time when we did plan and it worked out. The reward from that was immensely more powerful than anything that came from not planning. Planning is the key to you and your businesses growth.
About a month ago my son set a goal to beat one of his teammates in Cross Country. He had always come in second to him in every race and he wanted that to change. He had some difficulty believing that he could beat him although he had almost achieved it several times previously. On Tuesday of this week he had a race. He started out strong, in first place for the first quarter or half mile and then settled back into third behind his teammate and another strong runner. As my wife and I watched the race my wife disappointingly said to me after he fell into third place, “looks like we might have to settle for fourth this time?” I tried to bolster her confidence and said, “no way, I still believe he can win this.” Josh kept behind the two other runners the rest of the way, perhaps 5-7 meters at the most. A sloped curve just about 100-150 yards before the finish line was where my son decided to start his kick. He breezed by both boys and left them stunned by his aggressiveness. His teammate, who’d been in second, kicked his effort up and just missed catching my son at the finish line. Josh came in first and his teammate second. Josh was beaming, my wife and I had tears in our eyes watching him achieve his goal. Perhaps we were more pleased and proud than him. Other parents came up to congratulate us. It was a great feeling and one that I know Josh will savor. 
What’s the point? He set a goal and achieved it. Would he have accomplished that if he had not set a goal? Would he have dared to accept anything less than victory if he’d not set that goal? I should add that his time and his teammates’ was the best of the year, surpassing their previous times by about 20 seconds, a huge improvement. Growth comes when you plan and set goals. 
We don’t know what we can achieve when we set our minds to achieving a goal. That’s the reason for planning. Josh determined what his number one thing was – to beat his teammate! He will now need to set additional goals. Do you think he will have confidence that he can achieve much more now? How do you think his attitude will be?
A plan and a goal set us up for accountability. When it is done on an organizational level it sets everyone up for accepting responsibility. Business growth is sure to follow.
Do you fear that? In fact are you afraid to set goals because you know your team won’t respond to them? If so what does that say about having the right people on the bus? 
Business coaching provides accountability. Accountability, structure, leads to growth. It’s the one thing too many business owners actually need to operate their business better. Why? Because in most cases they started their business for independence. Sometimes accountability and freedom get confused. You can have freedom but not without accountability. You are accountable and yet you can still not have freedom.  Freedom and independence are inseparable from accountability. Make a plan, set your goals and commit to achieving them. I cannot promise you will not have discouragement and disappointment on your path.  I can promise the reward of achieving your goals will give you confidence, improve your attitude and make you a winner that will continue to win more as you continue to plan in the future.

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