Plans are crucial to success in any endeavor. It doesn’t matter if that project is building a business or writing a book. Without planning, even the most well-intentioned projects can hit a roadblock or even stop altogether. Developing a success plan takes time and effort. It also requires a certain level of experience, and newcomers can unfortunately be hit with this realization only after they start their projects.
So what sets the viable success plans apart from the amateurish ones? Fifteen entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council share their best tips for success planning and explain why their advice is particularly useful in implementing a plan.
1. Know Your Goal
Know your goal. Once you know what success looks like, you can get started on a plan. I start with brainstorming ideas. Once I have them brainstormed, I pick the first and second ideas I think have the biggest chance of helping me reach my goal. Lastly, I execute the plan. If that fails, I go with my second best option. Not all plans work the first time, so it’s important to stay optimistic.
2. Always Include the ‘Why’
Always include the “why.” Sometimes you get so inundated with all the hard work it takes to achieve your goals that you forget why you are working so hard. Everyone focuses on the tangible goal and timeframe or deadline but they forget why they are working so hard to get there in the first place. This “why” is the fuel that gets you there when you lose steam or focus.
3. Be Flexible in Your Planning
Be flexible in your planning. Coming up with a plan is easier than sticking exactly to it. In business, things change, and you have to be able to pivot. So understand that when you make your success plan, you will need to be flexible. If you know that going in, success will come to you a lot easier.
4. Develop a Vision Statement
Every successful company has a vision statement, and the best leaders are the ones who set an audacious goal, inspire their team to pursue it and build a business that achieves that vision. In 2016, I crafted a detailed, written vision of where my company would be in 2020. Our Vivid Vision has been an overarching roadmap for the past three years and has kept us on track for achieving our goals.
5. Reach Out to Other People for Support
While writing a success plan, reach out to other people who can support and hold you accountable to those goals! It’s all too easy for us to focus individually on our own steps to success and forget that leaning on co-workers, family and friends for support is the best way to get there. A helping hand could push your goals over the finish line and provide resources you didn’t know you had.
6. Understand Your Market
When writing an effective success plan, make sure you’ve done enough research to understand your market. You need detailed information about your target market so you know your business caters to them and has a high chance of succeeding.
7. Validate Your Idea First
A tip for writing an effective success plan is to validate your idea. You don’t want to write a plan that your clients or customers don’t want, and you don’t want your plan to be based on something you think you “should” do instead of the next right thing. Validate your plan with your market and alongside your long-term goals.
8. Define, Develop and Deploy
I follow a simple framework to make a success plan, which is to define, develop and deploy. Define what you want, develop why you need it and deploy your plan. The hardest part of this framework is to develop why you need it so that you can finally deploy your plan. If you can do those three things on everything you do, I don’t see any reason you would not succeed.
9. Keep It One Page and Update It
Keep it to one page and update it. It can be daunting to think about all that you want to do, change and accomplish in life. Challenge: design your life plan on a piece of paper. Ask yourself what is most important to you now, in 10 years, and what you want to look back at and celebrate as you enjoy retirement. So many people get stuck or overwhelmed, and this exercise is the best place to start.
10. Break It Down Into More Manageable Parts
It’s always a good idea to break your plan down into smaller, more manageable parts. You may begin to feel overwhelmed if you’re looking at a massive list of tasks with no real end in sight. However, if you break it down to smaller tasks, you can slowly see your plan come to fruition. Taking this step will also allow you to track your progress and make future plans.
11. Create a Slogan That Defines the Plan
Create a slogan that defines the plan. An effective success plan sounds long and boring. There needs to be something memorable that condenses the plan to a one-sentence slogan that everyone can recite and rally around. For us, that slogan is “10/4.” Success to our company is being in 10 cities within four years by 10/4 (my 40th birthday). Keep the objective clear and memorable.
12. Draw Out Your Plan
When making a success plan, you don’t just have to write it out, you can draw it out too. When you draw, you engage different parts of your mind. By doodling or drawing out your plan using arrows, words and objects, you create a clearer picture in your mind. Drawing can help you see the whole picture. You can then write down a more detailed plan that works.
13. Focus on the Results
Focus on the results in order to propose actions. Many times, even plans can stumble and fall, and we mistakenly believe that this is the end because it didn’t work out the first time. It is essential to keep your mind on the results you want to achieve and plan actions based on them to maintain persistence in achieving them.
14. Make It Unique to You
Your success plan must be unique to you. You can use a template as a guide or someone else’s plan as a model, but at the end of it all, it’s got to be your success plan. You’ve got unique goals, motivations and experiences, so use them to create your plan. And ignore anyone who says you’re doing it “wrong.”
15. Create Short-Term Plans
I haven’t had much luck writing out a long-term success plan, because life seems to throw curveballs at you, but I have found success in looking at short-term plans. I like giving myself short-term stretch goals and I find that doing this personally and professionally to be really helpful. The momentum on the shorter-term goals always impacts the long term too, and gets me there faster.- Erin Blaskie, Fellow.app
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.