It seems like the years go by in the blink of an eye. Each one starts out with great intentions and as Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Well, these past few years have delivered numerous punches to most business owners forcing them to navigate many complexities and uncertainties.

Here we are again with another opportunity to set the best intentions only to wonder from where the next punch will come. It naturally makes a busy leader wonder why even take the time to write down plans when it feels like a crapshoot.

So what’s the answer? I think Sun Tzu in the Art of War, said it best, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first then seek to win.” In other words, your chances of success are greatly increased by planning for a win in advance based on the best information you have. We can only anticipate so much of what the enemy will throw at us, therefore, we plan with an expectation it will need to evolve as the punches come. In short, we’re better off adapting with a plan than reacting without one.

The key is to build a plan far enough out and strategic enough in nature to survive most unknowns. For most businesses, a one-year plan is a pretty good baseline due to most annualized financial calendars. However, with an annual plan, it’s much more important to use periodization and sequencing in a plan broken down by shorter time periods, preferably 90 days. Usually, a quarterly cadence is best for tactical plans. It’s a good time to check in with yourself and others to benchmark progress against your plan, anticipate the punches, and adapt with some refinements.

Lastly, an overarching business plan turned into individual 90-day tactical plans managed through a cadence of effective weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings, allows the business to run more optimally. Everyone is more in sync coordinating efforts and resources. The plans create the glue that keeps everyone communicating, collaborating, and making a bigger impact on results!

Now, if you haven’t written a plan, block an hour to knock it out! It’s not too late nor do you have to overthink it. Reflect on the prior year and write down the basic tenants of a one-page business plan: theme for the new year (a vision of common purpose), growth/progress goals (like revenue, AUM and new clients), strategies, and projects (initiatives requiring coordinated efforts with accountabilities) to achieve the goals. List your projects and initiatives by the quarter(s) you expect to focus on executing them using a simple quadrant. It’s a great visual to see where the company’s resources and energies will be focused.

If you really want to maximize your results, have each person in your company draw up a personal 90-day plan to align with the quarterly business plan reviews. This allows everyone to be in rhythm and stay in their lanes while also providing an important check-in opportunity between you and your direct reports and theirs. Most employees I have coached over the years wish they had more ‘formal’ check-ins with their manager to recognize their achievements and strengths while offering feedback to advance their careers.

Cascading this planning process down through the organization helps everyone focus more on the important things and see how their efforts impact the company. It can increase capacity through efficiencies and shows intentionality on behalf of leadership, instilling respect, confidence, loyalty, and commitment to their work.  

As you go into this new year, do it with intention. Don’t let perpetual unknowns provoke you into an all-or-nothing mentality and just give up on planning. Isn’t that what you expect your clients and business partners, affiliates, or COIs to do? Personalities play a critical role in the planning process. It’s important to align your planning process with your personality. 

Learn how your thinking is impacting your planning and results by taking this complimentary “Confident Leader Insight Assessment”. Click HERE to take this brief but powerful assessment. The report is immediate and if you have any questions about it, send me an email and I will personally reply to it or click the button below to schedule a complimentary Confident Leader Strategy Session to go over the key results and how to align your planning process.