Make plans? or just plan?

I was digging through old files tonight and found some business plans that I put together for my senior thesis at Auburn. It made me google business plan writing, which led me to this image.

It is amazing how simple things seem when they haven’t started yet, but when they get going, how complicated things can get. A good plan will get you started but in all honesty it doesn’t help you put out fires. It doesn’t even help you get more business. All that a business plan is good for is making you and all involved have conversations before you have to. When the founders all agree that they want to be the best experience in town, and not the low cost leader, that guides a lot of decisions later down the road. There are things that are off the table because everyone agreed to that.

As I think about it, here are the big mistakes with plans:

Planning too far into the future. (You don’t have a crystal ball, so don’t plan for 15 years from now.. you just can’t do it.)

Sticking to the plan. (When you actually get started, you have to be willing to throw the plan out the window and make the right decision with the information that you didn’t have when you got started)

Thinking you are superman. (Your yellow pad brilliance won’t help you make payroll in month 7. So make some realistic plans, and have an exit strategy.)

At the end of the day, you have to remember what Eisenhower said.. “Plans are nothing, planning is everything.”

The act of planning is more valuable than the plan itself. Planning makes you realize that you can’t just show up and wing it. A plan once made, on the other hand, can keep you from making the best possible decision. So plan and plan well, but just don’t follow it too closely once it is done or you will head somewhere you might not want to be.

What are your thoughts? How often do you make a plan, stick to it, and it works out.