Will Planning Make You Exceptional?

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On January 19, 2015

DoesPlanningMakeYouExceptionalThere are plenty of “me-too” entrepreneurs out there. That may sound like a contradiction in terms, because we tend to think of entrepreneurs as exceptional people. But some people seem to stand head and shoulders above others in the marketplace. They are truly exceptional.

Paul B. Brown recently wrote an intriguing post entitled, The 7 Things Exceptional Entrepreneurs Have in Common. You can read the entire post here, but I wanted to give you his list of seven things—and comment a bit about the last one. (By the way, I didn’t edit out any of Brown’s “things.” The title of his post says there will be seven but he really only lists six!)

Here’s Brown’s list of six things exceptional entrepreneurs have in common:

  1. They don’t set out to be rich
  2. They don’t need an original idea to succeed
  3. They get into trouble more often in good times than in bad
  4. They (tend to be) big fish in small ponds
  5. They expect to make 90 percent of their mistakes on people judgments
  6. They practice strategic thinking not planning.

It’s an interesting list. You may or may not agree with Mr. Brown (and I’d love to have you leave me a comment in the comments section below telling me if you do or not).

What caught my eye (other than the fact that he only listed six items) was his observation that exceptional entrepreneurs practice strategic thinking rather than planning.

Before you jettison your next planning meeting, it’s important to understand that what Brown is talking about is creating a business plan rather than a strategic approach to a business problem. Some businesses spend so much time creating, refining, and fine-tuning their business plan that they never get around to actually doing anything.

Your planning needs to be driven by strategic thinking. You absolutely have to think strategically about your company and your market. But that doesn’t mean you don’t engage in regular planning. Your planning helps you to identify the specific tasks you need to do to achieve your strategic goals. You’ve got to know what you need to do and when you need to do it. And you’ve got to have metrics in place so that you know what you’ve accomplished.

Still, strategic thinking and goals have to come first. Without them, all you have is a plan that will keep you busy. And being busy is not what being an entrepreneur is all about.

If you need help setting strategic goals for your business—and then doing some planning that can help you achieve those goals—give me a call. I’d love to help you be exceptional!