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From Business Plan to Future Plan

businessplanIf you lead your own venture, there’s a good chance you invested hours upon hours in a meticulously-written business plan. In fact, many experts consider a business plan to be the backbone of success, but how many entrepreneurs actually refer back to the plan as they progress to new stages? Not surprisingly, many new business owners create a business plan merely as a way of attracting investors, or to fulfill financing and loan requirements.

While it’s nice to take time to set goals for your business before the ball starts rolling, formal planning is not all it’s cracked up to be. More important than the thick plan you may now use as a paperweight are your actual plans. Where do you see your business going? Where do you want to be in ten years? Sometimes you can’t find the answers to these questions until your business is underway, leaving it impossible to incorporate them into a plan designed in the early stages.

Even if you managed to identify a number of early goals that remain relevant, things change. What you were working towards when you first started out may not be the same aspirations you have in mind now. The path you choose and the method used to travel that path vary from person to person, and it’s your own idea of success that will shape the way your business grows and evolves. It’s easy, really.

Take a moment and think about the future. Consider your own definition of success and use it to compile a list of the ultimate “to-dos”, which will not only give you something to work harder for, but also make the work itself seem a little bit easier. Is success a string of tropical vacations, or does it represent a certain number of clients or sales? Is it money that drives you, or do you continue on your adventure because you love your job?

Reflecting on the past is a great way to set the tone for the future. Consider the ups and downs you faced during the past month or year and learn from your mistakes. If you made a few bad decisions, put a strategy in place to keep you from falling victim to them again. With each failed opportunity, there is a lesson to be learned, and ignoring the moral of the story will prove to become time well wasted.

Once you have taken the necessary time to consider the past, present and future direction of your business, write down your thoughts. Compose a hard copy list of goals and keep it in a place where you can refer to it often. Seeing your aspirations in writing will inspire you to stick to the plan and make the necessary changes to experience your own personal success.

In addition to the plan itself, keep track of the changes that take place within your business and make a note of their effects. If you made a choice that brought positive results to your business, identify new ways to exploit that decision; on the other hand, having the opportunity to review a list of failed ideas will only make you stronger. Regardless of the size or type of business, most entrepreneurs will tell you that their original visions are a far cry from the current status of their business.

We all have big plans, whether we’re taking a trip, expecting a child, or simply attempting to reach a new level in business. Nothing will be exactly as planned, so it’s important to learn to embrace change and discover what motivates you, gives you the power to overcome obstacles, and makes it all worth it at the end of the day.

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