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Overplanning Can Kill Your Business Idea

Overplanning Can Kill Your Business Idea

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    Most articles about starting a business cover planning. Creating your business plan. Creating your marketing plan. Creating page upon page of plans, plans with great intentions and perhaps excellent potential for success. There’s nothing wrong with planning itself; if there was, I’m sure we wouldn’t see such an emphasis on it in business literature.

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    But not so often mentioned is the dark side of planning, and it’s the dark side that captures many a bright and hopeful entrepreneur into its trap ensuring that their great ideas never see the light of day: overplanning.

    I’m sure most of us have known, worked with, or even been the person who falls victim to overplanning. It’s no surprise as the planning phase is a tempting comfort zone; the idea is that the more there is planned, the more that is lined up in a perfect row and ready to go for launch, the better things will work. Things rarely work out this way. Businesses tend to grow organically, despite the best-laid plans, and when they explode with popularity from the very beginning it’s often plain luck. They may have had a good plan to help them on their way, but so did a slew of viable business ideas that didn’t succeed.

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    What’s important to note is that people who get stuck in the planning phase and never move on to execution are often stuck in planning because they are scared. They’re afraid of how their idea will be received, whether it’ll succeed or fail, and scared that if it does fail it’ll reflect on their abilities.

    Execution of plans is an art, because few people can draw on the courage to make things happen.

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    Two Alternatives to Overplanning

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      So what can you do to avoid the trap of overplanning? There are two approaches that might work for you:

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      Ready, Fire, Aim: I’m not sure who first coined this phase that describes a particular way of operating, but the first place I read about it was in this article a few years ago. The premise is that you dive straight in and start executing based on whatever plans you had to start with — in other words, acting on your idea as a plan in itself — and making adjustments as you go along. This way you’re organically growing your business as you plan its future, making sure you don’t get stuck in an unprofitable no-action phase. It’s a good concept and can be applied to plenty of businesses, especially fairly basic ones that involve providing a service as a freelancer or selling a digital product.

      Plan Deadlines First:
      Another way to try and dodge planning paralysis is to make the first act of planning the deadlines for implementation. You might stipulate that you should be advertising and working with your first client by the 1st of the next month, or your information product will be edited and ready for digital distribution within three months on a specific day.

      The hard part about making this concept stick is that you might just change the deadlines. Do what you can to make yourself accountable. Many people suggest telling a family member or friend about your self-imposed deadline but I don’t think this works effectively. It’s better to book an ad with a non-refundable deposit or make some other sort of business arrangement for that date so you’re forced to be ready!

      The first objection to that method of keeping yourself accountable is that you’re screwed if things go wrong and you simply can’t get ready by the deadline. I think it’s a fair risk to take and losing a deposit is much better than getting stuck in the planning phase!

      Lastly, I want to say that there are certain projects and endeavors that do take extensive periods of time to put together and coordinate before they can be launched. These are rare, few and far between and incredibly difficult to get off the ground, but they do exist. Chances you’re first business will be one of these? Well, I wouldn’t say it’s out of the question, but it’s also not too likely, so don’t use it as an excuse!

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      Published on September 18, 2018

      17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

      17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

      Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

      Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

      Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

      After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

      Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

      1. Show your appreciation

      In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

      The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

      Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

      2. Communicate effectively

      Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

      Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

      3. Be open to dialogue

      Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

      New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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      In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

      For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

      4. Provide constructive criticism

      Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

      So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

      Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

      Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

      Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

      5. Conduct one-on-ones

      Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

      While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

      Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

      More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

      6. Build training programs

      In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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      From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

      While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

      7. Offer growth opportunities

      Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

      Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

      Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

      8. Reward them

      Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

      If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

      Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

      9. Encourage team outings

      Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

      From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

      10. Involve them

      Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

      Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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      11. Set meaningful goals

      In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

      Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

      12. Empower them

      You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

      Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

      Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

      13. Deal with conflict

      A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

      How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

      As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

      14. Implement a flexible work culture

      Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

      Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

      It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

      15. Host engaging activities

      All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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      From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

      16. Maintain a positive work space

      Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

      Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

      These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

      17. Avoid discrimination

      Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

      In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

      The bottom line

      Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

      It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

      This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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