Momentum Podcast: 778
778 - Debunking Boring Strategic Plans
by Alex Charfen
The number one issue in entrepreneurship today is that entrepreneurs do not know the true value of a strategic plan.
In fact, most business schools, startup courses, and business consultants go about this all wrong. A strategic plan for your business can change everything, but a true strategic plan should be exciting and capture your entreprenurial vision of the future.
The strategic planning myth is so pervasive that entrepreneurs avoid planning at all costs. Most notably the cost of their growth.
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Full Audio Transcript
This is the Momentum podcast. Strategic planning is one of the things that I am most excited about in business, and it's also one of those things that is probably the most misunderstood in the entrepreneurial world. I'm excited to spend this time with you today discussing what is a strategic plan in an entrepreneurial business and why are so many people confuse? I'm Alex Charfen, and this is the Momentum podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority. The few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be. I want to start by just saying I understand why there's so much confusion around strategic planning or business planning in general or having a strategic plan for your business. Let me take you back over 30 years. I'm forty nine now and I didn't finish college, but I went to several different colleges. I kind of chased instructors that taught business, and I wanted to learn from the best in Southern California when I was going to school a long time ago. And over 30 years ago and. What what happened in several business classes was, we had to write what was called a business plan or a strategic plan for a possible startup business. And I'll be honest with you, it was horrible. It was boring, it was tedious. We had, you know, when you write a strategic plan in college or even when you write a business plan in college, you have to write an introduction and a thesis and an explanation of the business. And it's basically just writing and writing and writing. You're basically writing a book that explains what the business could look like. And honestly, it didn't feel productive. In fact, for most entrepreneurs, writing all that stuff out might be a decent exercise. It might be something that makes you think through your business. But it really doesn't feel necessary, and it feels like a huge lack of momentum, in fact. I was talking to NPR marketing person who runs our marketing today, and I was saying, you know, I think there's this misconception. I think we need to debunk this, and I think we need to really show people what this is. And it immediately hit me like, that's what it comes from. It comes from so many different different systems out there that have you write the book about your business and in college, I actually had one class that made us do a strategic plan for a potential business. Then I went to another college, had the same thing happen in another class where I had to write a strategic plan for its financial business. And I kind of jumped colleges and jumped around a little bit in Southern California over 30 years ago and around 30 years ago. And then the third time that I was in class where they were like, We're going to write the strategic plan. I actually bailed. I dropped the class. I don't remember if I really dropped in or if I just stopped showing up. Either way, I didn't finish it because the exercise just didn't feel effective to me. And so here's what a strategic plan really is for an entrepreneurial business. And I took some notes here because I want to make sure that you understand how revolutionary this is for your business, how much it can absolutely change your life. As the entrepreneur running the business, having the strategic plan changes everything. Now, first, I want to share with you the symptoms of if you don't have a strategic plan. So here's what happens if you don't have a strategic plan. Now these things could be happening in your business. And if they are, I don't want you to beat yourself up for this. I don't want you to think, Oh man, I'm missing something. You are. But so is the majority. Or so are the majority of entrepreneurial businesses. What I want you to do is internalize this and think about this. Are these things happening in your business? Because if they are, they are symptoms of not having a strategic plan. And I can tell you from experience here, we help entrepreneurs understand strategic planning, understand the communication in that plan to their team, understand how to execute the plan where you know, everyone on the team is being effective and they're utilized and they're efficient. And we see from before to after all of these symptoms improve radically, and many of them disappear once an entrepreneur has a strategic plan. So here's some of the symptoms. First, you're wondering about your team, your one, you know, do you ever like wake up in the morning or maybe in the middle of the night or maybe going to sleep? You think, Oh my gosh, what is so-and-so on my team doing? And you don't really know if they're utilized. You don't really know if they're really doing anything for the team. You don't know, like you don't really know what's going on with that person. And if you're an entrepreneur building the team, especially if this is your first time and you have that feeling, just no, you are not alone. Most entrepreneurs do. And I'll explain why, and I'll explain why in a second, when I talk about why, what is this strategic plan and how is it using an entrepreneurial business? Now, the second symptom of not having a strategic plan is your team starts missing. Things sometimes are small things that have a huge impact in the business. Sometimes your team's just missing things that you think they should be able to capture and understand. And when you feel like you're correcting or you feel like you're rescuing or you feel like you have to continually tell your team to do the same thing, it's probably because there's a lack of a strategic plan. Another one is, and this one's a big one. If you feel like your team's not stepping up, not taking initiative, not putting themselves out there, not doing as much as they could do, that's probably because there's ambiguity about what's going on. And it's because you don't have a strategic plan. And I just have a couple more, even though there's a ton of symptoms, I'm just going to show the big ones today. The next one is you're missing deadlines, you're consistently missing deadlines. Things don't get done on time. You feel like everything's a rush at the last minute or things just it's like you set deadlines. You talk through the deadlines and then the deadlines are missed or and the last symptom here is you have what I call a hero culture, where if it deadlines aren't missed, the way that you hit the deadlines is people have to show up and work all day or they're pulling all nighters or they're they're doing heroic things in the business to get things done. But it's not the most effective. It's not the most efficient getting everything done in the last minute, staying up all night. Those those those types of behaviors challenge the efficacy. They challenge how good things are. They challenge what you put out as a company. They challenge your ability to do your best work. And so if you have any one of those symptoms or like a lot of companies, don't feel bad if you have all of them, most do until they have a strategic plan. Now let me explain what a strategic plan is, and in an entrepreneurial business, a strategic plan is. A live, active document that documents everything that your business is doing, depending on the system you use on a quarterly or monthly basis, we teach a monthly basis because we feel like it's far more effective to plan on a monthly basis. It gives entrepreneurs more flexibility if you're one of those people who likes to, you know, comes up, comes up with ideas, you have things that really are going to move the business forward. Having 30 day plans give you a lot more opportunity to change things. And so we teach a 30 day planning system. And so what a strategic plan is, is it documents all the things happening in the business every 30 days. So what people are you hiring? What people are you promoting? What training are people taking? What what projects are you getting done and what policies are you implementing? What? What are you doing as a company? What are all the things you're doing? There are basically four exits to delegation. You can have a project a b, so a project that you're executing, a process that you're documenting or improving a policy that you're implementing in your company or you're doing something with people. And the strategic plan should have all of that in it so that everyone on the team understands what's going on. And here's what a strategic plan will do. It actually provides a roadmap for your team, so they have confidence about the future. If you want people to step up and take initiative, they have to have confidence about the future. They have to be clear on what's going on. They have to be clear on what the company is doing. If someone understands where you're going, they are far more likely to step up, take initiative, get things done, rocket the company forward. And then if they don't understand where you're going and a strategic plan when you distribute it to your team and everyone understands where you're going and everyone understands what the projects, the policies, the changes with people, the processes are, what happens. Is it access this roadmap for your team, this unifying document? I like to say it's manifestation with a clear foundation because you, as an entrepreneur can think about the future. You can have that really clear picture of the future in your head. You know, that's what we do every day as entrepreneurs. We are that small percentage of the population that gets up in the morning travels into the future, creates a new reality, then comes back to the present and demands it becomes real. The issue with that is, well, first, let's talk about the benefit that the benefit to that is that we change the world. The benefit to that is that we go into the future. Imagine a new reality where private companies are launching spacecraft. Then we come back to the present and we demand it becomes real. We go into the future and we imagine a store where you know, you can buy anything you want online and get it within 24 hours. We come back to the present. We demand it becomes real. We evolve humanity now on that same token. The challenge with this is if our team can't see that future, if our team doesn't understand where we're going, they will be fundamentally confused. And here's what happens when people are confused. They step back. They don't take initiative. This is naturally, by the way, a lot of the time. It's not even conscious for your team. It's hard to blame them because if they don't understand the future, they step back because it's protective. If they don't understand the future, they won't take initiative because they don't want to step off a cliff and not know what's there. If they don't understand the future, they're not going to give you as much as they possibly can. And that for us, as entrepreneurs, we feel that we feel when people are holding back and when I say that it's manifestation with a foundation as entrepreneurs, we take that journey into the future, then come back to the present and demand. It becomes real. When we make that journey clear for our team, when we show them where we're going, when we give them clarity as to what we're going to do in the year, what we're going to accomplish in the quarter, and then we have that strategic plan for the month. The entire team can help us manifest that future. The entire team can energetically, intellectually and tactically and strategically help us create the business that we want, help us move towards the outcomes that we want, help us make the contribution that we want. And in lieu of a strategic plan, here's what happens. Your team will always, always be asking you. And the biggest symptom that I didn't share earlier because I wanted to close with it is that if you don't have a strategic plan, you will always feel like the biggest bottleneck in your business. Here's why. It's just it's reality. It's logical. This is like the law of physics. If you if your team doesn't understand the future, then they have to go through you to get the information to get there. That means if they don't know where you're going, if they don't have clarity, if it's not easy to understand and impossible misunderstand, you will be the biggest bottleneck because you will be doing one of two things telling people what to do or answering questions about what they should do and constantly trying to motivate people and move them forward and get them excited because there is no clarity around the actual plan. Now, when you look at major businesses, every one of them has massive strategic plans. In fact, my cousin works at Apple and at Apple. They have a I think it's somewhere between 12 and 20 year timeline. They have a 12 to 20 year strategic plan. They have products on their strategic plan for which the technology does not yet exist to build. So they're constantly pushing out to the future. If you know anyone who's ever worked at Apple, people go work at Apple and they hardly ever leave because there's so much excitement about the future. There's so much clarity. What they're doing, they feel fully utilized, they feel like they can contribute at the highest level. I want this for you and your team, and the way that you get there is by having a clear strategic plan and a process to renew it that your team trusts. So if you've ever felt like when somebody says, you know you need a plan for your business or a strategic plan or a business plan, and you think of those old boring book like documents, that's not what I'm talking about. I want you to know that what I'm talking about is usually a one or two page document kept in a system online that everyone on your team has access to so that they can help you create massive momentum and move forward fast. And this is life-changing for you as an entrepreneur. So if you're interested in understanding more about a strategic plan? Go to Simple Operations dot com. That's our new company brand. If you hadn't heard me say that before, you haven't listened to the podcast in a while. We just rebranded to Simple Operations dot com. I actually have a podcast on the brand. You might want to check it out. And you can go to Simple Operations dot com and register for a call with our team. Let us explain to you on a call. Let us review your business with you, help you identify opportunity and see if a strategic plan is what you're missing to get into maximum momentum and productivity with your team. Thanks for being here with me today. Go to speak, go to Simple Operations dot com. Fill out the information and we look forward to talking to you.