Over the past month or so I’ve been doing something I should have done ages ago. I’m writing a personal business plan.
For those who don’t know, a business plan is an outline of an entity’s strategy and operations. It sets goals, defines a target market, describes broad tactics, and projects financials – profits, losses, and cash flow. It’s used, mostly by for-profit businesses, to document their goals and/or as an application to a bank or other source of capital for a loan or investment.
In short, it answers the questions “Where are you going?” “How are you going to get there?” and “What will your profit be?”, whether you measure profit in dollars, value to society, personal satisfaction (or sanity), or whatever.
I’ve never done any real life planning stuff before, because I never thought it would be relevant for me. I love serendipity. I thrive at making things up as I go along. I get a buzz from uncertainty. My disposition seems to preclude any sort of formal planning.
This approach has always worked for me. Why? Because there was always one stake in the ground, one tether, to control the swing of everything else. At different times the tether has been a steady job, a city or sometimes a set of relationships.
But over the past few years I’ve come to realize the old approach isn’t working for my new Range Life. With no steady tether, the relatively clean arc of my activities have turned reactionary and scatter-shot. I’ve replaced the careful curiosity of a cat with the yipping ADD of a puppy. I’ve seen this lack of focus in a company, and I know where it leads. More specifically, I know that it leads nowhere.
To get started, I’ve taken tremendous inspiration and guidance from Chris Guillebeau’s annual review over at Art of Nonconformity. He says it explicitly, but what I and thousands of others are trying to do is to prove that if you choose to do so, you can be successful outside of the traditional 9-to-5 (or 7-to-7!). You can – I can – live a Range Life.
In further testament to my ADD, as I write my personal business plan I get so excited about certain things that I set the planning aside and take a step or two towards one of my goals. But now I’m too impatient. I’m going to finish this plan by mid-week and let myself loose on the execution, which is the fun (and hard) part.
2011: Good riddance.
2012: Let’s do this thing.
One thought on “It’s never too late to start planning”
In his book, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, author Robert Pirsig cites a warning from a set of instructions, “Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind…”
I offer you that same warning. If you’re all ADD, I submit that an ADD-inspired business plan will not cure your ills. GO FIRST AND CALM YOUR MIND. Think of diving in a place where you’ve stirred up all the bottom silt and now the visibility sucks. Let the waters still, let the silt precipitate out and get some clarity before you go and charge off.
Figure out what’s making you yippy and dithering, and go address it. I wish you the best of luck.