The Single Biggest Business Planning Challenge

Steve August
January 12, 2021
5 Rules for Rocket Ships

Yesterday, I launched a survey with just one question:

“When it comes to business planning, what’s your single biggest challenge?”

I got a bunch of responses in (thanks to everyone who took the time!), and I am now able to give you the definitive answer.

The single biggest challenge in business planning is…….there is NO SINGLE biggest business planning challenge.

Pretty much every person who answered spoke to a different challenge. Here’s a selection of quotes:

Sustainable growth. A rising tide floats all boats, implementing a flywheel biz dev strategy covers a host of sins. Yes, you need vision & a good management team, but your business won't be worth much if you can't prove a sustainable growth path.

Clients not adhering to contracts they've signed.

Overcoming concerns of scarcity or resources, risk aversion due to environment, need to run more profitably, and desire to expand capacity to make decisions on where and how to invest.

Not having the confidence whether my company will be able to handle quick growth or no.

Committing to one approach, and then following through on it… It's hard to pick on system since I'm still doing many experiments to build my business. I also don't know how to balance experiments (what might business could be) with planning (getting money now with the product I currently have).

But one participant perfectly summed up what the responses revealed:

There is no "single biggest challenge.” If there were just one, we would focus all our efforts on it, and every entrepreneur would be successful and every business would thrive. It is a constant flow of challenges that one must learn to navigate and overcome to be successful.

What to make of this then?

Business is a constantly shifting series of challenges depending on your development stage, industry, sales model, market forces, client/customer tastes, the overall economy, an occasional global pandemic, and 20+ other variables.

How exactly can you plan for such unpredictability?

It comes down to how you see the purpose of planning.

As Eisenhower once said, “I’ve always found that plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

It’s common to think of business planning as an exercise in setting goals and figuring out how to hit them.

But when you think about it, if there’s a multitude of challenges your business is facing, the single most important thing is figuring out what you should focus on right now and for the next 90 days.

So the real benefit of business planning is setting your focus and attention. We must get clear on which things will move us forward the most - and then have the ongoing discipline to do just those things.

If we keep doing that, then even with challenges spiraling around us, we’ll be focused and confident in our actions.

I’ve been creating a lightweight business planning system that creates an incredible level of focus and ongoing accountability.  

I am considering giving a virtual workshop on this planning system if there’s enough interest.

If this sounds interesting to you reply back with “Interested!”.

Until next week,


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