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In an article published by The Globe and Mail, Jon Umstead proposes that running your business from a documented plan will increase your odds of success by 30-50%. He further states that business leaders who learn how to be better planners not only improve their own business and personal success, but they can collectively change economic growth throughout the country. This article is worth a read. See link at the end.

When I first read this article several years ago, it stuck with me. I knew from my own business experience and from chairing a CEO peer group, that documented plans, along with a commitment to an ongoing planning process, really works. I’m now on a quest to help business leaders everywhere be more successful through better planning.

Here are three things to consider when business planning:

• Structuring the plan
This is the starting point. Once you have clear picture of what information to include in the plan, and what isn’t necessary, this work can go quickly. With a solid structure, it’s simply a matter of adding content. And content can be easily changed and revised over time using the same structure.
• Documenting the plan
Plans kept in your head, or another person’s head, aren’t helpful. Only when you distil your ideas onto a document can these ideas be understood and added to by others.
• Committing to planning
Even well structured and fully documented plans grow stale quickly. Effective planning is a continuous process. It requires discipline to stick to a review schedule with so many competing demands on your time. Take a break, check on your progress, celebrate your achievements and reset priorities for the next quarter.

Over the past few years, we developed a structure for planning in business that makes this task relatively easy for any size business at any stage of growth. We are also compiling resources about planning on our web site (PlanGenie.com). If you have any great tools that you have used successfully, or insights, or questions on this topic, I would love to hear from you.

If you are already on the planning “bandwagon”, please share this message with others. Let’s get the economy going again.


What happens when we don’t plan?

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great”, in his keynote address to a
recent international Vistage Chair conference summarized 12 attributes
of great leaders he has studied.

Observation number one: there is a strong correlation between
planning and improved results.

The criminal mastermind known as The Joker, who’s famous quote
includes: “I don’t have a plan, I just do things”. Which is why he has
never really achieved anything despite being this charismatic character.

He is the mirror image of Batman who observes, analyses, and only
acts once he has a plan of action… the Joker has a loose goal, but he
just does things hoping they will somehow help him reach that goal…
His luck is mistaken for talent.

Are you Batman or The Joker?

For more information on how to run your business from a written plan,
please check out our web site plangenie.com

The Art of Moving Forward is a Top Priority of Every Business Leader and Entrepreneur. But How?

If you wish for a steady stride to navigate the challenges of the coming year, putting yourself in the driver’s seat is key. After all you are the navigator.


As the captain of the ship, what is your highest priority? When we put the question in this nautical context, the answer is obvious; Always be crystal clear on your destination and how you intend to get there.


This sailing metaphor makes this assertion intuitively obvious. It is absurd to think that a captain of a ship, a plane or a bus driver would venture forth without knowing the destination and having plotted the route.


Nor would we, as passengers or crew, choose to embark on any such journey.


Once the captain and his leadership team are clear on the destination and route, the next step is to share this information with the crew and help them understand their responsibilities on the trip.


Inevitably, course corrections are made along the way: route changes, timelines adjusted, emergencies resolved. The plan is routinely updated and communicated to the crew.


As the leader of your enterprise, how effective are you at documenting and communicating the future direction of your business?


  • Are your short- and long-term goals clearly defined?


  • Does your leadership team know and agree on the “route” – the steps you need to take to reach your destination?


  • Do you have a culture that supports the venture? Does everyone understand the “rules of the village”?


  • How clear are you and your team on where you are today? is there a common understanding of what you sell, who you sell to, your partners and alliances, and your competitors.


  • How clear is the crew on their individual areas of contribution?


  • Do you have an adequate number of “seats on the bus”, and are they filled with qualified people?


A business without a working plan is like a ship sailing without a destination.

The art of moving forward requires mapping, communication and action steps just as is required for reaching any destination, whether in business or in your personal life. 


For more information and easy to use tools on maintaining a working plan for your business please visit our web site. Share your views and insights about planning with others on the “community comments” section.


Jan 27, 2021                                                             © Plan Genie

I received a reminder from my physician’s office this week to book my drive through vaccination time slot, which got me thinking about business health.

How is vaccination related to business?

A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.

Business planning is a quasi vaccine for your business. The act of planning stimulates your business immune system. Resiliency and immunity don’t just happen, they are learnt and built.

Which component of your business do you want to vaccinate this season?

  • Re write your Unique Business Proposition?
  • Clarify your company Purpose?
  • Set new short and long term goals?
  • Document the new strategies you have adopted through the Covid experience?
  • Revisit your Value statements – would it be helpful to restate the required behaviors and beliefs you need from your team to succeed in the months and years ahead?
  • Any changes in your products and services, fees, or your target market?
  • Time to refresh and strengthen your relationships with your business partners – your suppliers and/or distributors?
  • Are your departmental plans current for the next quarter, priorities identified and moving forward, or has your leadership team fallen back to reactive mode?
  • Is your organization chart up to date, capturing the changes over the past six months

Some of us tend to be vaccine and needle adverse. Working on your business heath can activate the same feelings of resistance. It can be nerve wracking to know it might hurt a little, even make us feel a bit sick, to find out things aren’t working quite as we want.

You know what they say, “an ounce of prevention”.

Stay Healthy!

For help with these questions or any other help you may need to improve your business health drop us an email.

The Foundation

We all know that building any structure starts with a solid foundation. The same is true of your business plan. The foundation for your business plan is your BUSINESS PLAN SUMMARY.

Your plan summary contains five important pieces of information. The rest of your plan extends from this foundation and is easier to assemble when you have this document clearly written.

The five pieces of your summary are:

  • Your Unique Business Proposition – what makes your company special, unique and different?
  • The Purpose of your business – Why does your company exist, as seen from the customer’s perspective? At a fundamental level, what value or benefit does your company create for your customers?
  • Your Destination – Your longer term goals, your picture of success 3 years from now.
  • Your One Year Goals – Desired outcomes in the next 12 months?
  • Your Strategy – In broad terms, how you will achieve these results?

Let’s look at the first two points on this list.

Unique business proposition: In a couple of sentences, describe what makes your business unique, special and different. This can usually be found in:

What you do.

How you do it.

Where you do it.

Who you are.

When you write this information down and begin discussing it with your leadership team, it will lead to crystallizing these ideas. (Tip: Always good to check with your customers for their perspective on this).

Becoming clearer about what makes your business unique will guide the future direction of your business and provide a reference for key strategic decisions as you grow into the future




Your Purpose:

Why does your company exist, as seen from the customer’s perspective?

Every business has a purpose. What is yours?

If your business is building lighthouses, what might your Purpose be?

Something like: “we protect our customers from foundering on hidden perils at sea”





Pontish Yeramyan, CEO of Gap International, wrote about being purposeful:

“The 21st Century Organization can also differentiate itself by operating within a bigger context than a vision or mission, something more expansive. It’s not enough anymore to simply have a clear direction – people must be able to throw their entire selves into the game to be successful, with full engagement of heart and mind. We have found that when leaders leverage Purpose, it creates a competitive advantage that’s difficult or even impossible to replicate. Purpose creates the ability for people to care about something much bigger than their personal concerns and fully apply their talent to meaningful endeavours.

 If you think about it, Being Purposeful creates the platform for organization success, because it taps into a reservoir of potential energy latent within the organization. When peoples’ orientation to their job transforms from performing work to that of making a difference, they become exponentially more effective at coming together to produce extraordinary results. It becomes possible to consistently produce results beyond what is predictable in the normal flow of business. Powerful strategies can be created and re-created when purpose is present.

Purpose gives people a far more expansive space to create and grow, where creative, purpose-based thinking replaces crisis-based, fire fighting thinking. An organization of people who have connected themselves to something bigger can thrive rather than simply survive –they can move fast together and nimbly adjust strategies and tactics to succeed.”

Once you have draft versions of your Unique Business Proposition and Purpose statement, it’s time to do some goal setting. Move on to sections 3,4,5 of your plan summary.

Here’s the good news, unlike a physical foundation, you can come back and revise these sections of your plan if you aren’t completely satisfied with your initial efforts.





C19 is “disruptive Innovation” on steroids. Every business has been disrupted, even those that are seeing revenue growth through this period. C19 has been the disrupter, and the best leaders will, and already are, looking at their business critically, using this situation to find new, innovative opportunities, both externally (customers, supply chain), and inside their companies (deployment of people, operating systems).

The challenge for many SME leaders is transferring their new ideas and evolving vision into a working plan.

A number of practical questions arise:

  • Where do I start?
  • How do I get past the initial resistance from some members of my team?
  • How do I translate my future vision into measurable goals?
  • What are the most important pieces to include in a high level summary of our future vision?
  • How do I incorporate my values and cultural changes in the plan?
  • How do I integrate new ideas with our current methods of doing business?
  • How far into the future should we plan?
  • How often should I review and update my plan?
  • How do I maintain momentum when I need to make major changes (pivot) in the future?
  • How do I engage my team in creating departmental plans?
  • Who do I share my plan with and how do I do this?

The devil is in the details.

When you are ready to put some of your new ideas into play, a good starting point is drafting or refreshing your Business Plan Summary. A template with detailed instructions is available at plangenie.com.

This content rich web site will also help you find answers to the other questions listed above.

The act of writing a business plan is a powerful catalyst to self discovery and clarity.


Critical Impediments

It can be challenging to commit quality time to draft a new plan for your business or refresh your existing plan. The world is constantly throwing objects in our path and we tend to give these impediments a lot of our attention. For many, the ongoing barrage of new challenges to our business (and our lives) can cause us to abandon the idea of writing a plan or revisiting and updating our current plan than has gone stale.

Here’s a quick fix to help get you and your team over this hurdle. At the beginning of your planning meeting, whether you are working alone or with your leadership team, take a few minutes to make a list of the “Critical Impediments” that are currently getting in your way or holding you back from achieving your goals.

You can run through this exercise fairly quickly. We suggest you do this before getting into the specific goal setting and action plans. Try brainstorming without limiting ideas. Use 3-4 word bullet points.

List every current critical issue, problem and challenge that you feel may impede the accomplishment of your overall goals and objectives.

This can be done at the corporate level when you sit down to draft your Business Plan Summary (Step I in the Plan Genie workbook) and also when you start work on the departmental Action Plans (Part IV in the workbook)

Critical Impediments

Issue, Problem, Challenge




This exercise has a couple of useful purposes. Firstly, it provides context for your plans. As you publicly acknowledge and document the challenges you are facing, you, your team, and your entire organization can turn your focus on finding solutions, rather than fixating on the problems.

Secondly, as you and your team transfer these worrisome thoughts from your brains onto a document, the emotional attachments seem to dissipate. This is a very freeing exercise. We quickly start to realize there are ways to work around, through, or over these impediments.

Space station commander, Chris Hadfield, explained that his team spent 4 years planning their six month mission. They were constantly looking at “what can kill us” and planned accordingly.

Photo Credit: Thank you @ellasegal via Twenty20 for your playful Elephant photo. Your work helps us express our message effectively.


Frequently confronted with the argument that you don’t have time to plan, we don’t believe this for a moment.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, every day. This is not to say you aren’t busy, it’s to say that we know if you make time for planning, it is time well spent and invested. We challenge you to implement the practice of planning.

We adhere to the principle that there is power, or “magic”, in the act of writing our plans down. The magic is the clarity the act of planning provides and the “aha” experiences you have when you write your plans, you give them life. Running your business from a plan is a shift from a passive to active stance for your business.

We named ourselves Plan Genie because we know we all have those “3 wishes” for our business and while we can’t grant wishes, we can help teach and support you to make your own wishes come true in your business.

Planning is a catalyst for learning, growth and clarity in every aspect of your life. Why don’t more businesses plan? It’s a mystery.

To use the analogy of a grocery list. While a business plan is more complicated than a weekly shopping list, it is in essence the same principle and not that much more difficult to get into the habit of. How much more effectively do you use your time when you go to the store with a list. When you have a current written plan you start to see what’s both working and not working in your business. You get grounded and inspired.

Now, while we have so much uncertainty is a good time to get back to the basics of planning.



Today, April 16th is National  Advance Care Planning Day  . It just so happens that this year, the Advance Care Planning Day falls within the time of a pandemic and so the topic of death and illness has been brought to the forefront of our thoughts. While we spend great amounts of time trying to avoid the elephant in the room, we will all face our own end of life one day. While none of us know the “when” we can know the “how”, we can build our own best end of life plans: stating our wishes, documenting them and sharing them with our loved ones and ensuring our family physician has a copy of our “plan” in our medical file.

After you have done this personal work, communicated it to your family and have had the hard conversations with who you wish to appoint to help speak on your behalf one day, you can then revisit your business plan and see how ready you are for an exit of your business. Take time to address the What if’s.

As with a business plan, your advanced care plan can be updated and changed as time goes on and is encouraged to be revisited as your life changes.

Here are some resources to get started:

Willow End of Life Planning Services

Advanced Care Planning Workbook

Plan Well

Canadian Resource Guide


There has been a lot written about “disruptive innovation” in the last few years. New and creative approaches to established industries are changing the landscape. Examples include Uber disrupting the taxi industry; AirBnB is disrupting the hotel industry. The underlying message is about reminding business leaders to take innovation more seriously and avoid complacency.

We didn’t see it coming, but our business and personal lives have been hit by one of the biggest disruptors in recent history. And it happened quickly, in a matter of a couple of months. Very few, if any businesses or personal lives have escaped. (Uber and AiBnB are being impacted, … a lot of Uber drivers are now doing food delivery via Uber eats… while AirBnB is in disarray ) Whether you have seen a significant loss of revenue, or a major spike, or something close to normal, the way we operate our business has been irreversibly disrupted.

COVID19 has been a disruptive force. And it has created an exceptional opportunity to innovate. As the C19 storm eases, it’s time to renew our plans for the next cycle of our business.

The opportunities are everywhere for new ideas:

Our markets,

How will our market change? How will we adapt? What new products or services, or pricing will we offer?

Our Operations – What have we learned, so far, about how we deliver our products and services to our customers?

Our people – how do we redeploy our people more effectively in the months and years ahead?

Our systems – what lessons have we learned about our embedded way of doing things?

Planning ahead is an essential task for all business leaders. Planning requires more than generating ideas. It is important to cull, prioritize and to write them down in a coherent, easy to understand document that can be shared with your leadership team, your employees, your bank, your partners, and occasionally with your customers.

Taking your thoughts from your head and documenting them is the catalyst that cannot be overlooked and why a written plan is so powerful – there is magic in writing things down and speaking them aloud. Ideas die in the dark.

Now is an excellent time to get your team all rowing towards your next destination.

Any comments? Better still, love to have your questions about planning. What do you need help with?