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Cultivate an Approach, Not a Business Plan

Cultivate an Approach, Not a Business Plan

Planning — sometimes I think it’s the biggest obstacle to actually getting things done.

And I realize that sounds strange coming from someone who just offered a webinar on productivity.

But it’s not the day-to-day to-do list type planning I’m referring to here. It’s the long-term forecast-type planning I mean.

Spending too much time trying to figure out how the future will play out might be the worst thing you can do for your business.

How to get overwhelmed and stuck, fast

Back in 2009, I took Copyblogger Media’s Teaching Sells course.

Six years later, I’m working for Copyblogger, and I’m teaching the Teaching Sells course. We just reopened our doors to a new group of students. Everyone is in the early days of the course.

And I’m already seeing people get stuck.

The most common sticking point is that people want to know — in advance  — if their plan will work.

And many times, they’re asking us, the instructors, to weigh in on their ideas.

And here’s the thing: we actually don’t own crystal balls. We may have a bit more experience, and may have seen many examples of what works, but we don’t actually know for sure.

Which may be a little disappointing to people. I mean, they signed up for this expensive course, and they’re putting the time in. Part of what they expect from the course is reassurance that their idea will work.

But you see, no one knows if an idea will work until it’s actually put into practice.

Ideas, when they aren’t combined with actions, are just concepts.

They’re two dimensional. They lay there. They’re pretty to look at, but they don’t really do anything.

Once you combine an idea with action, suddenly it comes to life!

It starts generating data. You see how people interact with your idea. You know what’s working, and what needs improvement.

Suddenly, your idea becomes a thing.

And that thing has a life.

Inject your idea with life by taking action

When you’re in the early days of a business, trying to decide what to do, remember this:

Exactly what you do almost doesn’t matter. It’s the doing.

The only way to know is to do. The only way to find the path forward is to start putting one foot in front of the other. You’ll find your way.  Just keep moving!

The beauty of the educated guess

It’s the best-kept secret of thriving businesses.

From the outside, the most successful businesses look like they have the ability to see the future. They know what’s coming, and they prepare for it with new technologies and products that are ready and waiting to usher in a new way of doing things.

But the truth is, everyone is making educated guesses.

No one really knows for sure what will work. Even companies with large research and development budgets and full teams of smart people working on predicting the future don’t know for sure what will work in the real world.

They make educated guesses.

And the more they take action, the more educated their guesses get.

But they’re still guesses.

This is counterintuitive, but it’s the way business works. There are no guarantees, only good guesses, taking action, and responding to what works and what needs adjusting.

Building a business is a messy but beautiful process

Forget about plans and guarantees.

Cultivate an approach of making educated guesses, taking action, and making adjustments. That’s what really works.

Ask the right questions for an online business startup plan that works

To help you make educated guesses that work for your unique business, check out this article: How to Write a Winning Online Business Startup Plan in Less Than 20 Minutes.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business.

Pamela Wilson

I want to help you take the next step. Pick your free workshop topic and let’s do this!

13 thoughts on “Cultivate an Approach, Not a Business Plan”

  1. Your post hit the nail on the head! I love planning but always fall short on the execution because I want things to be perfect. I recently adjusted my approach by identifying my big picture goals and creating monthly goals to put them into action. I still run into hiccups with wanting things perfect, but my next step is outsourcing tasks I’m prone to spend time on that I either don’t have the expertise or time to do. I’m hoping this new approach will help my business grow!

  2. Hi Pamela,
    I benefit from reading your posts precisely because I already know much of what you’re writing, it’s just that in the day to day process of running a small business it is easy to lose the core lessons & knowledge. So I appreciate the reminders that you send out. The “educated guesses” that you write about are a great example. Our business is driven largely by seasonal events; Christmas, Easter & Thanksgiving are our three busiest times of the year. We need to plan our production in terms of numbers, variety of products and when exactly we’re going to roll them out, not too early & never too late. Our educated guess is simply looking at what we sold last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, etc.) in order to nail the numbers in a coherent way. Other educated guesses are things like the weather, what day of the week did Christmas fall on, and so on. And yes, execution IS innovation, everything else is pie in the sky. Thank you for sharing these valuable reminders.

  3. Hey Pamela,

    Reached your blog through an article you wrote back at copyblogger. What i think is it’s all about implementation, only thinking about a plan and just day dreaming about it that it will work and drive success to you is useless.

    You are unlikely to get any success if you don’t implement things and wait for results, it’s all about thinking less and practicing more.

  4. Business really comes down to consistency, authenticity and familiarity. If you grade all things you write, say, post and create you’ll attain instantly recognizable AND trusted status sooner than you think.

    Priyanka –

  5. Pamela,
    This is great! I am addicted to planning and forget that it is ok to make mistakes. I’ve made some huge ones in the past and need to remember that the past does not equal the future. Learn and move on. Action is absolutely essential to move forward and you don’t know what works or doesn’t work unless you try something!
    Thank you!
    Rio Simone

  6. Honestly I’m stuck on my target audience. Although my original plan was to reach black women, all types of women (and men) started responding to my social media and coming to my events, plus using my materials. It’s good (I think) but it’s clear that my organization is evolving and who we Really reach is not who we say we reach on paper.

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