Is your business plan a comfort blankie?

Jason Fried inspired me test my views on planning and goal-setting with his blog entitled ‘Planning is Guessing’. His basic premise is that a plan is actually more of a guess, a hope, a stab in the dark, and that too much effort spent planning is really a waste of time and energy.

And, I suppose I agree with some part of this. Anything that has not yet taken place and is future focused has limited certainty. Further, we’re often using a bunch of unconfirmed assumptions in order to predict the future. So – in fact – we actually have very little to go on when considering the allocation of resources, capital and time!

Yes, some of these assumptions are derived from highly sophisticated research and data; but even so, we’ve seen many big corporations get it entirely wrong with new products and services that were expected to sell like hot cakes (think Samsung, Microsoft, Coke, Google, Facebook and more, and some of their products which either never saw the light of day, or literally blew up!)

How much financial modelling and planning went into the launch of their products? Stacks. Tons.

So how much planning is enough? None at all? One hour? One week? One month? I mean, this piece of string is long! And regardless of time and resources, you can still get it spectacularly wrong.

Begging the question: Why bother at all?

Which got me thinking about how I would feel starting a new business or product with zero planning. Immediate nausea! Instant rejection!

But do the numbers I have plugged into my financial plan have much certainty attached to them? Very little. I know my break-even number. I know my setup costs. And the rest is hope.

My insight from this reflection, is that Fried has a point. Forward planning is probably mostly guesswork. And an emotional comfort blankie.

AND: there’s no way I’ll stop planning. That would just cause constant nausea, and overall ill-health. Long live my excel spreadsheet!