July 2, 2013

When Do You Plan What’s Next?

By Paul Bieber

Here’s a multiple choice question:

I make my future business plans:

  1. Every minute of every day
  2. Every day, driving home
  3. Every Friday afternoon, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm
  4. Right after my current plans are wrapped up
  5. Once a quarter, whether I need new plans or not
  6. When the checking account has a little bit extra in it
  7. What is this word ‘plan’, and why should I care about it?

There’s no exact right answer, but there are wrong answers.  Let’s look, but first, decide on your window of planning.

A one-man shop should be planning about a week ahead.  A three-man shop should be three to four weeks ahead; a 10-20 man shop about two months and larger shops can go out six months to a year.  Your position also matters.   If you are the big cheese, look to the longest edge of the window, if you are a medium cheese, cut the window in half, and if you are in the daily rat race, look forward a day or two.

1.  If you use this method, you will drive yourself crazy and never get anything done.  If this is you, change your coffee to decaf, take a long weekend, and start fresh with plan 3.

2.  Every day is little too much.  This means you are planning tomorrow, today, and that won’t keep you in business very long.

3.  This is my favorite choice.  A dedicated amount of time, weekly, for you to think, plan, and follow-up.  Turn your phone off, ask your office staff not to bother you unless it is a great emergency and isolate yourself from as many interruptions as you can.  Follow up on last week’s ideas, do some research on a new idea, make decisions that need structure and planning.  If you need to change your schedule, that’s okay, but don’t completely skip the week.  Give yourself this hour and your own mental health will benefit!  One week work on plans for increasing sales, another work on reducing costs.  Still another look at three months out, and once-in-a-while, look out for a year or two.

4  This is a bad choice.  You should be making plans continuously, not just when your current ones expire.

5.  Once a quarter is not enough, no matter what the size of your business is.  Very large companies have full-time people that do nothing but plan.  Not too many glass shops are in this category.

6.  There are only seven companies in the United States, right now, that have something extra in the checking account.  Most of us need to plan, so we can become one of the seven, or maybe then eight.

7. ‘Nuff Said.  If you wait for the world to come to you, it won’t.