I've never had a 5 year plan for anything. I've never had a 1 year plan for anything. The closest thing to a projected plan I have right now is that somewhere on my calendar in August is a note to sign up for preschool tours.
When I started my psychotherapy practice, I saved up some money, waited until the time seemed right, found an office partner and boom, started a private practice. I guess there was a plan, but more like a loosely structured 2 year idea and starting a family, leaving my practice and creating Zelma Rose were not even on the radar. Three things that have drastically changed my life in ways I could never had predicted.
So, here's my beef with a 5 year plan. Does it lead you toward something or does it lead you away from everything else? I don't doubt the importance of having a clear and sound business plan in order to seek funding, rent office space, hire employees, and take on big ideas like manufacturing and owning a store front. Yes, a plan is important and necessary, and when I am there, I will write the expected 5 year plan to impress investors with just how organized and predictable my business is. I'm already so impressed.
What I question is where is the room for possibility in creating such a detailed plan? Yes, every reference for writing the 5 year business plan mentions that of course the best laid plans can fail and life brings many twists and turns. This is true. Life happens and keeps on happening. But, being open to possibility on paper and really being open to it are two different things. (I wrote a post a few months ago about being open. Here's the link to refresh your memory).
I like possibility. Call me a champion of possibility. I stand by my belief that you can tell the world what you want in life but you do not get to decide how and when it comes to you. Being open and seeing the possibility in opportunities that have seemed to veer what plan was in place way off course has been instrumental in getting me to where I am today both personally and professionally. I like to tell the world and then listen real closely to the response. I guess the telling the world part is my own small way of participating in the expected 5 year plan.
Here's what I propose. I'm going to follow what I'm calling the High 5 Year Plan. The High 5 Year Plan is an open business plan. Open to change and open to possibility. One that rides my business like a wave. Planning to arrive safely on the shore, but also responding to the pull of the ocean.
Here's what a High 5 Year Plan looks like:
- Listen. Really listen. Listen to your business every single day. Write a list of what you see and hear each week and how you plan to respond.
- Dream big. Really big. I think the big dream is necessary for growth. Dream daily. Write down what rises to the top each week.
- Dream to reality. Shift some of your dream to reality. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, it can be all or one. Decide to follow those that seem somewhat within your grasp. As growth occurs, the farther off and crazier dreams will become closer and more possible.
- Find a team. Seek out your peeps. Near and far. Proximity is preferable, but no longer necessary. Sometimes your biggest supporter and cheerleader is someone you would have never expected. Connect with your team weekly whether in person or in the virtual fantastic. Success Squad anyone?
- Be honest. Step back. Farther. Even farther. Get some damn perspective. Crunch the numbers, critique your website, nit pick your copy and branding. Get help doing so. When you think you are there, you are not. That's the beauty. Life keeps happening, so does growth. It is a process.
- Ride the wave. Never forget why you started all this. It's a ride. Fun, scary, riddled with risk, rich with opportunity. Highs and lows. One cannot exist without the other. It's science, I promise.
- High 5. Every chance you get.
So there you have it. My super psychoanalytic, open to possibility, flexible and uber grey area business plan. It's not for everyone. Few things are. Breathing is the true exception.