Why is it that business plans never come to life? Why do almost all of them, once written, sit on a shelf and gather dust, while the futures they describe never see the light of day, and the businesses they lay out wobble their way into uncertain futures?
A traditional business plan is head-centered; it's an exercise in what business owners think they should do. Writing a traditional business plan is usually precipitated by one of two thoughts:
1. We'd better write a business plan because "that's what most successful businesses do"
2. We need to write a business plan if we want to go out and borrow money.
Traditional business plans are quite intentional. They are thoughtful, analytical, complete, decisive--all of the hallmarks of a supposedly "smart" business.
Traditional, head-centered, static business plans don't work. A plan that starts in the head, with logic and reason and thoughts, lacks passion and excitement and purpose. And a plan that starts with the assumption that it's been able to capture and account for all the relevant changes that will happen in the future is obsolete before the ink is dry on the page.
The business plan that will always work starts from a different place with a different set of operating assumptions. It starts from a heart-centered approach, which means it starts with experiencing the feelings you have. Not only does this plan tolerate change, but it relies on your building in change as a key factor that will keep you on the best course.
When I work with Entrepreneurs, I lead them through something I call 'The Dreaming Room.' This is the step before the business plan. In the Dreaming Room, we set out to imagine our businesses-but not from a logistics standpoint. Rather, we dream about the vision for the business. Why do you want to build it? Who will benefit? What will it mean to the world? Only after you understand those things, can you write any kind of tactical plan that will truly get you there.
The real difference between the business plan that always works and the traditional business plan is in how you think and feel about the plan--it's your attitude and your relationship to the plan that will make all the difference.