In business there is an adage that says that “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail”. Some people call planning brainstorming or discussing and when it continues for too long it may feel productive and comfortable because you are doing stuff. But there is a fine line between planning and over planning which is really a form of procrastination.
Whether you call it over planning or procrastination it is an unproductive waste of time. People who spend excessive amounts of time planning will argue that they are being productive and they may resent the accusation that they are procrastinating. If you procrastinate on something in business then you will not make any progress or it will take a long time to get it done. When you over plan on a project then you will take a long time before you start it or you may never start it all – it is sometimes referred to as analysis paralyses. So over preparation or planning has the same effect as procrastination.[pullquote align=”right” cite=”Click For More Procrastination Quotes” link=”http://theentrepreneurway.com/quotes/procrastination-quotes/” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible.” George Claude Lorimer…”[/pullquote]
Sometimes an entrepreneur knows what he or she wants to achieve but because they don’t know what to do and how to get there they default to procrastinating. This is a typical consequence when people are unable to see the way forward, either because they haven’t prepared and planned properly, or because they don’t know how to make it happen.
Procrastination in business also occurs when there is a task that the entrepreneur knows about but keeps putting it off until sometime in the future. This may lead to the task being delayed until it absolutely has to be done because of some deadline or it may be delayed indefinitely. This type of procrastination may occur because the task is unpleasant or because there are other easier, quicker, more enjoyable and often lower priority jobs that can be done before it. Unfortunately sometimes the tasks that are procrastinated over are also the most important ones and delaying doing them can have a detrimental effect on the business.
Many businesses owners procrastinate to some extent however some are so chronically affected by it that is stops them from fulfilling their potential. It can be a destructive habit that can be detrimental to the success and survival of a business.
A good idea that is over planned may never be started or take too long to get started. A poor idea that is under planned may be started and fail due to being too hasty.
Some businesses are never started because of excessive procrastination and other businesses fail because of a lack of planning. Some small businesses plan a lot and don’t grow much and some big businesses do very little planning and they grow a lot. And some businesses procrastinate continuously waiting for the right moment and never grow. Ultimately a well thought out bad idea is still a bad plan and over thinking won’t change it, whereas a quickly thought out good idea can still be a good plan. The success of a plan is not necessarily determined by the amount of planning time.
The difference between someone who is successful and someone who procrastinates and spends forever planning is that a successful person is quick to make a decision and slow to change their mind, whereas a procrastinator is slow to make a decision and quick to change their mind. Procrastination is not something that you should do in business.
If an idea is procrastinated then a window of opportunity can be missed in the market because competitors may fill whilst you are still procrastinating about it. Other entrepreneurs suffer in business from being over optimistic and failing to plan and as a result failing at what they do.[pullquote align=”left” cite=”Click For More Planning Quotes” link=”http://theentrepreneurway.com/quotes/planning-and-preparation-quotes/” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter F. Drucker[/pullquote]
Planning is both art and science and the amount that is needed is different in every situation. Some entrepreneurs seem to have the knack of coming up with good ideas that just seem to work because they know how to make them work. Whereas other wannapreneurs come up with the same idea and because they don’t have the experience they don’t make it work. Excessive planning for the successful entrepreneur in this case would be a waste of time whereas more planning for the entrepreneur that failed could still be a waste of time if the plans are wrong.
Richard Branson for example set up his first business without a plan – he just went ahead and did it. He has continued to adopt this approach extremely successful. However he is crystal clear about the concept of the business. Many times he has literally written multiple business plans on the back of beer mats and envelopes and they have turned into successful companies – for example Virgin Australia.
This practice has become so successful for Richard Branson that he now has a saying in Virgin that if your pitch can’t fit on the back of an envelope then it is too complicated and it is it’s likely you’re not focused enough. Great entrepreneurs and leaders are good simplifiers and can come up with ideas that are universally understood.
Richard Branson’s plans will revolve around a problem that he is trying to solve. He still creates important things like financial forecasts, and he does market research to validate the business idea but only after the initial plan.
If you need to fund your business venture with money borrowed from a bank or other lending source they will more than likely want to see a plan. If you want a lot of money then they will probably want a plan with quite a lot of detail. So regardless of whether you are able to be successful with little or no planning you will be forced to create detailed plans.
Planning in business is not inherently bad. After all you need to do some talking to business partners and key people in your business.
When you write your plans down they give you something to aim for and to refer back to which is a good thing. When you write your plan down it is very powerful because you are seeing it in your mind’s eye before you have taken action to make it happen. By mentally creating the desired outcome and writing it down it makes it more likely you will achieve it – Studies have this to be the case. Furthermore when you have written your plans it is much easier to share them or part of them with your staff so they know what the business is aiming for and they can buy in to your vision.
Clearly there are advantages to planning in business although there isn’t a perfect amount of planning that always ensures success in business – it depends on the idea and a number of other factors. It is very easy to spend too long planning and delay starting a project unnecessarily or never starting it. I suspect gut feeling may play a role for many entrepreneurs. So when it comes to planning and procrastinating, be careful to get the balance right.