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It’s a simple truth: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Inside any small business, you are likely to find someone, perhaps even you, going slowly crazy. At least that’s been my observation in private practice and even my own feeling now and then.

Chances are you’re not experiencing the much heralded “internet lifestyle” yet. At least not in the way it is commonly portrayed and that you’re secretly striving to achieve. In fact, you’re probably working harder (and likely even longer) than you’ve ever worked before.  Perhaps even working more than what you should be considering the returns on effort and investment you’re experiencing.

Why is that? And wouldn’t you like it to just stop?

Frankly, it isn’t that entrepreneurs like us are not working hard. That’s not the problem. The problem is most are doing the wrong work. And way too much of it.

As a result, they find their businesses end up being unfulfilling, unrewarding and the death of many marital relationships. Even if you have not been left financially bankrupt, the risk of finding yourself emotionally, mentally, physically, and/or spiritually bankrupt (or some combination thereof) is very, very high.

That is not the success story we have in mind for you. No one goes into business seeking bankruptcy. Of any kind.

So when I suggest you must think deeply about the future direction for your business, the first thing I want you to realize is business planning is not just about products and sales, it’s about your long-term survival. Not just as a business, but as a person. Hopefully a sane, happy, confident and successful person.

Which brings me to the 3 critical things to remember about planning in any business:

To improve your chances for business success today — PLAN TIME.

To improve your chances for business success tomorrow — PLAN PROJECTS.

When your business dream involves creating income for life — PLAN STRATEGY.

What’s your ultimate focus then?

Planning is easier than you might think, creatively challenging, and highly satisfying, especially as you start seeing your business plans come to life!

As I’ve said before, it all starts with your why (we added to it here and here). When you’ve nailed that down, tackle who. But I’m not referring to your potential customers. I want to start with you.

What gifts and talents do you already have?

Where are your interests at this time in your life?

What are your strengths?

What inspires you?

Who do you want to grow into?

Start painting a picture of your true self. I want you to trust me when I say knowing yourself is the first secret to success. And, the better you know you, the less likely you are to experience bankruptcy.

PS This is not the time to play small. You are a being of unlimited potential and tremendous power. Planning is how you will direct your potential and apply that power. Exciting, isn’t it?