Read Time: 8 minutes
It was 1989, and we were two years into our first business venture. The scene was a small apartment in Monterey, California, where my husband Mario and I lived at the time. After graduate school, I had said “no” to the corporate track and “yes” to our dream of having our own business. With the $5000 we had set aside for my engagement ring, we took the plunge and started our first business together.
To keep us afloat, Mario kept his job as a waiter, working days with me on our dream and shuffling Mexican food at night. While I had spent 2 years getting my MBA, I quickly realized that no schooling could truly prepare us for the life of an entrepreneur. Now, two years in, we were feeling frustrated and concerned. Despite our efforts, the hours were long, cash was incredibly tight, profit margins were minuscule and the stress of the business was wearing on our marriage.
It happened, that at about this time, my Dad and mom came to visit from Ohio. Because our apartment was so small, they stayed in a nearby hotel and hung out with us during the day. Looking back, I remember feeling incredibly self-conscious, as my Dad witnessed firsthand the whirlwind of activity that was our business at the time.
You see, all my life I had watched my Dad excel as an entrepreneur. He had started with nothing and over the years, built numerous businesses, employed hundreds of people and provided nicely for his family. Having him see the “under belly” of our business was embarrassing.
About three days in, I think he had seen enough and attempted to offer some help. After a number of questions, all of which made me incredibly uncomfortable, I remember him saying…
“Let’s get out your plan, sweetie, and see if I can help.”
“Well, we have a plan, Dad, but it’s not really written down on paper.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Well, I had an idea of where we were headed when we first started, but the more we learned and the more we saw what was working and what wasn’t, things kept changing.” I could tell he was thinking about how to respond… wondering how forthright he should be with me.
It was time to come clean. “I guess you could say that we don’t really have a plan, Dad.”
He paused and then asked… “How’s that working for you, sweetie?”
His question hung in the air. I felt awful. I had an MBA for God’s sake… I knew better.
And so it began… my first lesson on business planning from my Dad.
In the weeks and months that followed, Mario and I went back to the drawing board and looked at where we wanted to take the business based on all we had learned in those first years. At my Dad’s urging, we got clear about where we wanted to go, so we could lay the path to get there.
“You can’t hit a target you can’t see, so begin with the end in mind.”
This was my first lesson in vision crafting.
After getting clear about where we wanted to be 5, 2 and 1 year from then, we began to create a plan for the year ahead. I remember my resistance. I don’t have time for this. Why create a plan, it’s only going to change? Or the real resistance… if I create a plan and it doesn’t happen then I will have failed.
While I’m paraphrasing for my Dad, his message was loud and clear,
“Without a plan to turn your vision into a reality, the business you desire will always elude you.”
In the months that followed, we began to see a shift. We stopped changing direction every few weeks, we adjusted our pricing, identified our best-selling products and refined our marketing. But these weren’t the only changes that took place as a result of our plan. Something had shifted inside Mario and me. We were communicating more effectively, feeling more confident, being more productive and having a lot more fun. I remember marveling at how getting a plan on paper had such a dramatic impact on our overall success.
Over the next 10 years, our plan continued to evolve, growing that first business to $2.5 million in annual revenues before selling it in 1999. Since then, we have started six additional businesses. Each time, we harnessed the power of planning, by taking the very same steps I share in my Quick Start Guide To Planning Your Best Year Yet.
I’m curious… where are you in relationship to planning? Do you love planning or avoid it like the plague? Do you have a proven process or simply shoot from the hip? No matter where you are on your purposeful planning path, be sure to grab my Quick Start Guide For Planning Your Best Year Yet.
Then, over the next two weeks, I’ll email you each morning with an insight or strategy for creating a plan for your best year yet. Together, we’ll get clear about what you want the coming year to hold and then map out a step-by-step plan to make it happen.
I want to hear from you!
What’s your relationship to planning? How does it make you feel? The more I understand where you are on your planning path, the more I can serve you in the weeks ahead. Each post equals one entry into a final drawing for a private consultation with me where we will refine your Freedom Plan for your Best Year Yet.
The 2018 Best Year Yet Planning Series is my gift to you. Simply grab the Quick Start Guide To Planning Your Best Year Yet and be on the lookout for my daily email and blog to help you make 2019 a breakthrough year. ;0)