Maybe not. Planning is no guarantee for success. Yes, we’ve all been taught to first make a plan and then execute it. We’re told we need a complete business plan before we can get any customers. We assume we need a detailed architectural plan before the contractor constructs anything. There are situations where this may be necessary. But planning doesn’t automatically lower your risk. In fact, it may increase it. And, for most solo practitioners and small outfits, lots of planning doesn’t usually pay off.
Too often we spend a great deal of time and money, only to discover that our idea is fatally flawed. Or maybe the world around us changes in ways that make all our plans irrelevant by the time we implement them. Or, we’re so rigid about our plan that we don’t make the adjustments necessary to hit the mark.
In the construction industry, there’s been a huge shift towards overlapping the design and construction phases of a project. It saves time and money and can lead to more innovation. Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup, tells entrepreneurs to stop wasting time making elaborate business plans. Instead, he urges businesses of all sizes to test their vision continuously—and adapt and adjust before it’s too late.
Let me tell you how I recently used this kind of process and avoided squandering precious time and money:
Searching for a new program to offer, I did some research and thought that my blog subscribers could really use some help to be more productive and creative with their time. But before developing the program, I tested my idea by offering some free coaching on this topic last week.
Am I glad I did. I discovered that my subscribers don’t really need or want help with managing their time better. Sure, there was mild interest from a few people, but nothing that warranted my putting together a whole program.
At first I was disappointed that it didn’t work out the way I hoped. But the good news is that I learned a lot—and avoided spending a lot of time and money on something that wasn’t going to be productive. Now, I can quickly move on and try out other ideas until I find one that flies. In fact, this is how I’ve been developing my coaching practice all along. I experiment to see what works.
Give this a try if you want to successfully create something new:
1) Write down three of your best ideas and choose one of them to test.
2) Outline a simple, low-risk, no-cost experiment that tests your idea in the real world.
3) Conduct your experiment over the next week.
4) Write down all your results.
5) At the end of the week, analyze your results and write up an objective assessment of what you found.
6) Based on your assessment, decide what to do next: 1) develop the idea further because it looks promising; 2) tweak the idea and re-test it; or 3) let the idea go and move onto testing another idea.
7) Do this all in rapid succession. Don’t belabor it or try to get it perfect before you test it.
I look forward to hearing how this experimental approach works and what you discover.
Speaking of experiments, this blog is one of mine. Thanks so much for reading. I love helping you and getting your feedback and questions. I’m now looking to see how I can help you even more to create something that makes a difference. As I develop my ideas, I’ll continue to be in touch, although it may not be weekly. In the meantime, you can always email me if you have a question.