Published - November 2005
FROM THE ROAD
By Dave Jakielo
Planning For Your Future
Take Charge and Determine Your Destiny
In life I have found that there are three types of people in the world:
- Those that make things happen
- Those who watch things happen
- Those who wonder what happened
Unfortunately, most folks fall into category two or category three. You know the type—those who make excuses when things don’t go their way or always blame someone or something else for their lack of achievement.
For those who want to be in the first category, the first step is to develop a plan that will allow you to achieve your goals. Successful people know that things don’t happen by accident. Desired results are realized because a certain path was followed toward a certain end.
Lewis Carroll made a wry observation on the lack of a plan in Through the Looking Glass way back in 1872 when Alice and the Cat had a chat:
Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know where I’m going!
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go!
His insight is as applicable today as it was in the 19th century: without a plan to follow, whether it relates to business or personal life, where we end up will be the result of happenstance.
A plan is a roadmap to keep you on track. Your planning process will involve many areas, but the following three are critical to success:
TECHNOLOGY: Today, tools for business are changing so quickly that if you don’t stay current with what is available, you quickly risk becoming obsolete. Read everything you can get your hands on relating to advances
in technology to stay in tune with the latest developments and to see how they may be applicable to your business. It’s important to stay abreast of the cutting edge developments, whether related to customer relationship management (CRM) or business intelligence (BI) software.
SALES AND MARKETING: If your business is growing and thriving due to a massive amount of referrals and you don’t need any additional clients, then you can skip this section and proceed to the next. However, if you could use additional clients, then you may want to dedicate some of your planning efforts to your marketing strategy. I could write pages and pages of marketing techniques and do’s and don’ts, but if you ask me what is the one most important activity that should be included in every plan, my answer would be: you need to be where your prospects are. It is extremely difficult (and requires tons of luck) to grow your business by waiting for the phone to ring. It’s imperative that you attend the functions that your prospects attend and then network, network, network.
DEVELOP A TEAM: Lastly, you must plan on how you’re going to develop the people around you. You should always be training your replacement. After examining your team, if there isn’t anyone who can handle the tasks that clutter your to-do list, how will you have any time to dedicate yourself to growing your business? Competent people don’t fall from trees, they must be nurtured and developed. Remember there was a time in your career when you didn’t know very much, and if you hadn’t continued learning, where would you be today?
The planning process is important whether you are a sole proprietor or CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. I have found that the road to success is less bumpy if you travel it proactively versus reactively. Having a viable strategic plan allows you to be in charge and to concentrate your efforts on actions that will help you achieve your goals.
Without a plan, you will find yourself in the “fire fighting” business, moving from one crisis to another. This fire fighting mode leads to fatigue and frustration. It is hard to stay positive or to move forward when you have to deal with the crisis of the day.
Invest time in the planning process. Follow your plan, but don’t be afraid to tweak it as necessary, because you won’t get it perfect the first time. However, your plan will help you achieve your goals not someone else’s.
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Dave Jakielo, Seminars and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Dave@DavidJakielo.com. Website – www.DavidJakielo.com