Episode 7: The Right Type of Plan That Activates the S.T.A.R.T Formula


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In old and modern business books authored by the most influential investors and persons of recognized business experience and expertise, the plan is crowned king. They persuade and teach us to believe in the importance and superiority of a plan. Financial advisers preach it. Psychologists recommend it.

In personal development, business and investment coaching, and virtually any profession, it is enthroned and deemed the don of everything that emerges successful. Amidst this claim and partially justified true belief, both the experts and rookies write plans and yet fail. Solid research and statistics have proved many times over that the rate of startup failure blatantly exceeds the rate of its very inception. What if there is something more about writing a plan—something missing, perhaps hidden. Why do people plan and yet fail miserably?

I’ve consistently stressed on the word ‘plan’ during this series as not being all that might be necessary to start your business, and that might have sounded counterintuitive to some of us. However, a plan is very essential to any startup or career line but is never a guarantee to success. In fact, from a point of deep scrutiny, a plan can have either of three outcomes.

  •   Success
  •   Stagnancy
  •   Failure


In other words, as there is a plan that leads to success, there is also a plan that leads to stagnancy and failure. A bad plan is that which leads us to stagnancy or failure.

Why would any normal person write a stagnancy or failure plan?

The problem is that we unconsciously write these plans for ourselves based on a limited level of financial education. However, we can as well acquire these scripts from Professionals and financial experts per se, and because we don’t have a clue where we are led to, we blindly act out what’s on it and have ourselves to blame a few years later in business. We live the scripts acquired from experts that says, “Think big, shoot for the highest goals, if you fail, keep trying, don’t settle for less,” and all of these things come to play in our fundamental planning process. Then, in the nick of time, we discover that our values in life and business are not consistent with the planning process. We find ourselves caught in-between a paradox of living out someone else’s plan and writing a plan that synchronizes with our personal values and motives. Even if we felt we were on the right path, soon we begin to find ourselves questioning the very path we created for ourselves—although under some external influence—and as a result, we gradually approach a point of vocation crash.

This is not to undermine the importance of a plan but rather, to reveal a flaw in the planning process. The method of planning which we operate on tends to demolish our sense of calm and success. This very planning method has eaten deep into every one of us and that is what virtually all organizations, people, and financial experts are using. It is not enough to know the maxim, “if we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” It will rather be advantageous to acknowledge the fact that, “If we plan wrongly, we will as well fail.”

As a way to ostracize this ravaging flaw, we will study a success consistent and newer dimension of planning, a planning method that synchronizes with your personal values and goals, which is at the same time a clear representation of your unique definition of success. Something you can never give up on.

This method of plan writing may contradict your view of a plan, but as I teach it and apply it to my life day-in-day-out, I discover that things have never been so easy to accomplish. I walk up to ‘procrastination’ with the audacity of a Desperado and shoot off its head. I now say, to hell with the self-discipline problem and the inability to keep small commitments to myself. This method of planning has thought me how to be effective without stress, how a little work I put in writing an Action plan can save me from the heck and hassles of being ineffective.



The Conventional EBook Plan

This is the only befitting description I know, but do not worry; you are probably more familiar with this than you think.

The conventional eBook plan is predominantly what most of us are using now. It is usually very voluminous because it contains many ‘plan partially necessary items’. Yes, you are right! It contains 4-5 years financial projections, profit-loss ratios, marketing and advertising plans, equity projections, cash flow analysis, long and short-term asset statements, portfolio diversification strategies and so on.

The other day I visited Fiverr.com and was scanning through some gig on business planning and just then, I came across a gig that offered to write a 30-page business plan with all the ‘plan partially necessary items’ listed above.

Holy cow! A 30-page business plan?
 Is that not a reasonable size for an eBook in the Amazon’s Kindle app? Why would you expect a person to follow through and act according to a plan of 30 pages? Hardly.

Read the seven habits of highly effective people by Dr. Stephen R. Covey and you will uncover a secret. One important thing I captured from Stephen was his description of good delegation.
He itemized two types of delegation

  •   The Gofer delegation and
  •   The Stewardship Delegation

In his right words, he says, “Gofer delegation means ‘Go for this, go for that, do this, do that, and tell me when it’s done.’”

This is what the eBook plan does to us. It commands us to every direction because of too many details. Any step we take is literally based on an uncomfortably detailed rule that tells us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Thus, the eBook plan forces our creative brain to dwell in an invisible bondage of a hoary creation—the worn-out creativity. We, by our own hands, create something that inhibits our growth in the name of a plan.

Under the stewardship type of delegation, Stephen explains that when we manipulatively guide a person in a method that specifies his every step, the sequel is always a frustrated, unfruitful, and unproductive spouse, associate, fan, team, or businesspersons. To quote him, he says, “Stewardship delegation is focused on results instead of methods. It gives people a choice of method and makes them responsible for results… Point out the potential failure paths, what not to do, but don’t tell them what to do.”

A good plan gives short instructions and specifies the focus; not the method. It clearly states the goal, what you should not do, and what to avoid, then it allows its potential achiever(s) the autonomy to generate ideas that can achieve the preset goals. This is the best type of planning because personal development, innovation, and skill mastery become inevitable.

Focus On Results Not Methods

When we completely outline and detail a plan, we consequently deprive our brain of its creative abilities—its capacity to generate new and better ways of tackling a particular problem. The brain hates boredom. Therefore, telling it virtually everything it does and how it should think bores him. A bored brain gets tired of the bulky or overemphasized plan and consequently dumps it.

Of course, it is true that “if we fail to plan, we plan to fail,” but it is also true that “we can unconsciously plan our paths to failure and stagnation.” Moreover, that is practically what the eBook plan accomplishes.

When people take so much time to write a 30 page eBook in the name of a plan whereas they could have spent it on an interesting sightseeing with their kids or better still, invest the time into their businesses, it becomes a catastrophic flaw.
  

Know the Difference.

Rather than spending the best of your time on writing a plan that takes a year or two to scan through, I recommend you learn how to create an Action plan that can help you or anyone retire financially free and successful.
To accomplish this, you have to make a vivid separation from the claws of the conventional eBook planning method by acknowledging the possible features of the eBook plan so that when you find this in any of your life’s plan, you know that you need an immediate restructuring.
From research, I have discovered that the eBook plan has the four common features.

  •   It is very voluminous.
  •   It has no action drive.
  •   You hardly decipher the principal focus: even if it is stated, it is not consistent.
  •   Too many plan partially necessary items.

Is any one of these a feature of your plan? Then there is a need for an immediate restructuring. It is time to write that plan that will activate your startup and kindle the fire of career success in you. A plan that bears the true definition of your success; something you never get tired of pursuing.

The Action Plan That Activates the Start Formula

The action plan is any plan that specifies just the focus and principal motives of a startup, project or career path without highlighting the methods. It allows the brain’s creative juices to keep flowing and consequently, there is a 100x increase in productivity.
This method of planning shows us the tree of life; we do the climbing. It prohibits autocracy and promotes autonomy. It grants us the freedom to be creative. It keeps the spotlight on the principal motive, and we work our way up. It gives us the headline, and then we create the content. It leaves us with a certain aura and audacity to act.

A plan may not be a guarantee of success, at least not the eBook plan; but in the final analysis, it takes an action plan to succeed. Sincerely, the importance of an action plan in any profession and endeavor cannot be overemphasized.
An action plan is a good mentor and leader. It silently points to the door, then we figure our way through. An action plan does not only lead to success; it teaches us to succeed.

Frustrations have made many people dump their plan, “what the hell is a plan worth, I’ll do it from my head,” they say. However, that is a huge mistake too because they are soon infected with the “shattered focus syndrome,” and things turn out to be tougher than before.

Guidelines on How to Spot the Action Plan
  •   It will not take much time to write.
  •   Five pages at most.
  •   It is not descriptive but action impelling.
  •   It should drive a strong sense of urgency. The Start Now Drive
  •   There is a specified set of goals and a duration of achievement clearly stated.
  •   There should be a strong motivation for action.
  •  The feeling for an immediate launch at the #1 task on the checklist is always there.
  •  It activates the start formula.


Until investors learn this important skill of success, they hardly find the courage to get on with their ideas. When you are able to write yourself an action plan, you find it very easy to tackle the problem of procrastination. Self-discipline is automatically incorporated and the ease of keeping commitments will expand rapidly. Then, there is an upward spiral of growth in business and even in personal development.
When your mentor is not around, the action plan motivates you. When your trusted leader goes on vacation, the action plan leads you. it motivates you to move, when you feel reluctant to start.
An action plan is all you need to start that career. It is all you need to overcome the “Action block.”

Follow this more detailed checklist to set up an Action plan in minutes.

  •           Give it a commanding caption.
  •           Write as if you are speaking directly to your subconscious.
  •           Use checklists to specify actions you want to take.
  •           Do not be descriptive; just state the goal.
  •           After each action, set an uncomfortable time frame.
  •          Do not write an eBook—keep it short.
  •           Create a ‘Not-to-do’ list.
  •           Forget the methods focus on results.
  •           Create something that turns on your creative juices.

#10 Detach the Irrelevant.

This link will redirect you to a post in which I talked about the power of a plan. I mentioned that the mission and vision statement, marketing and advertising plan and some other plan-stuffs that are not even listed there were some essentials of a good plan.
I know, I know it sounds contrasting, but try to get the point straight.

 Your Action plan should be a separate piece—something you can just pick up and read through in minutes. And while the cash flow statements, marketing analysis, revenue projections, competitive edge analysis, and executive summaries are necessary, they are not ultimately important. Therefore, put them somewhere safe, somewhere you can visit them just for consultation. Your action plan stays with you; it goes wherever you go because it will remind you of your core values when you feel biased, it will push you to action when you get feeble-minded. It is in the action plan that you find your true definition of success.

I recommend that you read out your action plan on daily basis and that you do not join the ‘plan necessary but not ultimately important stuff’ with the action plan. Keep them apart.
Follow the detailed steps to get a working action plan for your career and business today. Remember that I can only guarantee your success if you apply these principles and not just by reading.

                                                              
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Have you been privileged to use an action plan before? What was your experience? How did it trigger you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the author

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Leo Smile is a Nigerian Writer, blogger, and Online Entrepreneur. He has hosted many online courses in financial education and career advice. Leo is also currently working on revolutionalizing the business world especially in the area of startups. He is popularly known for his online course, How to start a business with little or no capital.

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