Planning for change
Whenever we hear the word planning, we’re always reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. Unfortunately though, over time and for many healthpreneurs, hearing this so often has made this quote become somewhat of a cliché – overused to the point where we actually ignore the power and true meaning behind these words, and by virtue, ignore the importance of planning altogether.
Put simply, we don’t care about, or appreciate the power of planning and the role it plays to ensure our businesses thrive today and tomorrow.
The net result: we wake up one day and wonder why we haven’t achieved what we set out to achieve years ago, full of regrets and statements starting with ‘I wish …’.
But wishing is one thing.
While wishing, dreaming or thinking are still part of the planning process (just ask Mark Zuckerberg what he spends a significant amount of his day doing), these areas of planning are more about aspirational thoughts and considerations rather than a definitive way to achieve these goals.
Intentions on the other hand are a bit more defined than a wish.
For example, ‘I intend to go to the gym this morning’ is more defined than ‘I wish I went to the gym’.
Intentions form the basis of what we need to do, and when tied to a reason (a why), they become more motivating for us to work to achieve.
But there’s still a lack of the practical components and the overall how to make the intention a reality.
And without the how, we end up giving up on intentions because we don’t understand the steps we need to take to turn them into reality.
This can be illustrated using our earlier example. If I haven’t defined when I’ll be at the gym, worked out how I’m going to get there, set my alarm earlier to ensure I wake up on time, have my clothes ready to go, et cetera, then the chances of achieving my intention are much more limited.
So, how do we actually achieve what we set out to do?
This is where planning comes in.
Planning is the how. It’s the missing link between setting an intention and identifying the actual steps to reach our goal.
But You Already Know This, Right?
If you’re thinking this and saying, ‘Well I know all of this”, let me ask you one question: When was the last time you spent dedicated and uninterrupted time out of your business to plan for change?
If you’ve answered, ‘I don’t know’, but also said, ‘I know all of this’, then what’s stopping you from dedicating the time, energy and resources to actively plan in your business?
What obstacles are standing in your way from using what is one of the most powerful, yet underutilised tools in your business?
Because here’s the reality – many healthpreneurs disregard the power of planning, or simply don’t place enough value on it to spend the time, energy and resources to plan.
And don’t just take my word for it.
Why is it that some health businesses thrive while others barely survive?
Why are the world’s greatest leaders, entrepreneurs and businesspeople constantly spruiking the power of planning and the results from it?
It’s because planning allows you to celebrate how far you’ve come, reflect on the lessons learned along the way and leverage the opportunities and trends that are here today, and on the horizon tomorrow.
In essence, it allows you to plan your future in advance.
And that’s exactly what I did.
I’m Proof That Planning Works
Just look at the results we were able to achieve:
- Developed Australian first and award-winning workflows, processes and systems
- Grew our pharmacy by $4m turnover within 8 years
- Sold it for 3x the industry average multiple
I’m not mentioning this to brag but to instead illustrate one key thing – planning works.
But this didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took over 18 months of rigorous planning to achieve this. And at first, many people say, ‘Damn, that’s a long time to plan for a shopfit.’
But here’s the kicker – I wasn’t planning for a shopfit!
Let that sink in for a bit.
So, if we weren’t planning for a shopfit:
- Why were we planning in the first place?
- What were we actually planning for (what was our actual objective)?
- How could we achieve our objective?
These aren’t rhetorical questions.
If you were in my shoes, needing to do a shopfit with 13 other pharmacies within a 3km radius around you, what would be your objective?
If you jumped to your first thought and answered straightaway, just pause for a second.
Think a little bit deeper.
If I could wave a magic wand and transport you to 5 or 10 years from now, what would you see? What would you be doing? Who would you be with? How would you feel?
What would you have achieved?
This is where the Mission comes in.
The Mission is our 5-year to 10-year goal. It’s a SMART goal, so it’s specific, measurable, achievable relevant and time-bound.
The problem for many health entrepreneurs is that we don’t think about what we want to achieve that far ahead.
Instead, we focus primarily on the present and ignore what lies ahead. Opportunities that could be identified and leveraged aren’t capitalised on because we aren’t looking up to see them, or even asking the questions to find them.
In essence, we spend our days putting out fires rather than planting trees. And when we do plant trees, we pay little attention and give little thought to the process. As such, we often plant trees that don’t altogether fit our needs, purposes and long-term goals.
Having a clearly defined and well thought out Mission ensures that your needs, purposes and long-term goals are truly considered.
Often, we jump to the first thing we think of, but as we know, the first solutions aren’t always the best.
Take the Mission in our pharmacy for example.
Our Mission was not: ‘In 10 years’ time, we have a pharmacy that looks well stocked, neat and tidy, provides great service and allows our customers to easily shop with us.’
Instead, we looked at what we truly needed to achieve which was: ‘By 2020, I have successfully exited my family out of the pharmacy in a way that guarantees my parents’ retirement and financial security.’
See the difference?
The first example is what most healthpreneurs generically aspire towards. It’s not unique. It doesn’t inspire action. It doesn’t motivate you to really achieve what you want to achieve.
And that’s just it. It’s not what you really want to achieve.
We need to identify the root objective – the actual reason for why we are willing to dedicate the time, energy and resources on all the individual tasks needed to succeed over the next 5 to 10 years.
And once articulated, it’s vital that we test it against the principles of a SMART goal:
- Was it specific, yet simply articulated and significant enough to stretch us to achieve it?
- Was there a way I could measure whether or not I achieved this goal with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’?
- Was it attainable within the time frame I set for myself?
- Was it driven by a specific result or outcome?
- Was it clear when I needed to achieve this goal by?
Taking this into consideration and looking at what you first wrote when I asked, ‘What will you have achieved in 5 or 10 years’ time?’, what would it be now?
Why did it change?
And importantly, what didn’t change? These are the non negotiables that must be achieved in order to give you the life you not only want but need and deserve.
So what’s your mission?
And while you answer that, let’s take a step back to our discussion about our roles as leaders to embrace planning. If you haven’t yet read the article about Leading to Change, you can access that here.
As humans, and even more so as healthpreneurs, there’s one key human need that stands higher than most others – certainty.
Certainty that we’re doing no harm.
Certainty that we’re following all the Quality Use of Medicines principles.
Certainty that we can keep our lights on today and tomorrow.
But when it comes to change, doing things differently and improving our businesses, we crave certainty to know that our decisions and the choices we make are the right ones.
So, how does one get the levels of certainty needed for change? Planning.
If we have a plan, we can plan for both what we know and what we don’t know yet.
We can also develop contingencies for when things go wrong and we can identify, build upon and leverage what we do well.
Through planning, we gain clarity on the path we need to take and the actions we need to make to ensure we achieve our goals.
And through clarity, we gain certainty and the confidence to follow through on our plans, even when things don’t go as planned.
Not A Report You Shove In A Drawer
It’s important to note that while I’m talking about planning, the actual process itself is not simply a feel good day out where the team comes together, gets pumped up for a day, makes a fancy report and soon forgets all about it.
The power of planning and creating certainty comes from doing it regularly – even to the point of daily planning activities. This would involve quarterly planning days, weekly catchups, daily huddles and frequent debriefs.
There are many ways to do this. I have my own way, but ultimately, the choice is yours.
The key though is to be consistent. Just like it takes a long time to get the fitness gains by regularly working out at a gym, so does planning. But as soon as you stop working out, you quickly lose everything you’ve worked so hard for.
So, what date will you dedicate to planning?
Because, guess what? It will take 7,000 to 11,000 steps or tasks to achieve your 5-to-10-year goal.
That’s a lot. And when looked at as a big lump sum of tasks, that seems nearly impossible to achieve.
But what if we broke down that number into days, not years? That would mean we would only need to complete around 3 tasks a day.
Does that sound like something you could do?
I’ll answer that for you … YES!!!
It’s Time To Do The Work, And Keep Doing It
So, you said ‘YES’ and you have now got a plan that you and your team have created together and are aligned to.
And we know it’s not perfect because there’s no such thing as perfect.
But we’re OK with that because we know that seeking perfection will ultimately lead to procrastination.
And procrastination leads to not getting things done.
But right now, the plan is just words on paper. No amount of wishing, dreaming or intentions are going to bring those words to life without work.
So, how do we start ticking off tasks today? We can break this down to 4 simple steps:
Step 1: Brief the team and identify and resolve any obstacles
preventing the task from being completed.
Step 2: Execute the task.
Step 3: Review what happened together.
Step 4: Brainstorm ideas to improve the outcome better next time.
Step 4 is by far the most important. Even if we completed the task, there is always a better way for next time.
This process allows us to constantly assess what we’re doing and to build efficiencies along the journey. This will take time to dedicate to each and every day.
But the quicker we get, the more efficiencies we create. And this leads to achieving more in a shorter period of time.
And isn’t that what we ultimately want at the end of the day?
More time on the things that matter, rather than on the things that don’t. And with that, I leave you with Today.
Today being the first day you start creating the business of your dreams.
Today being the first day to reach your 5-to-10-year goal.
Today, your Plan for Change starts, and continues tomorrow, and all the days after that!
Find out more:
To find out how you can further develop your holistic entrepreneurial skills, including mastering the power of planning, head to zamilsolanki.com/foundations.
To become part of our global community supporting healthpreneurs from all walks of life, head to facebook.com/groups/zamilsolanki
About the author:
Zamil Solanki works with healthpreneurs – from individuals to large multinational organisations – to help them overcome unique challenges and achieve their goals through curated training programs and tailored holistic solutions. Unlike other coaches and consultants, we pair global research and techniques with our own experiences, having grown our own pharmacy by $4 million and exiting it for 3x the industry average multiple. To do this, we focus holistically using 5 key pillars – mindset, planning, leadership, marketing and sales, and specialize in workflow, innovation, automation and systems.