Years ago, I read something that struck me as truly awe-inspiring. I believe it was in a book either by, or about, the iconic Ted Turner — but I can’t find the reference, so I could be wrong. If you can set me straight, please do.
Anyway, here’s the quote that set my synapses to firing for a spell:
Fire, Ready, Aim
The idea, as I recall it, is that a shrewd businessman should never waste time trying to get a plan together before embarking on a new venture: Just get it out there and see what happens. That’s the way!
At the time, I was sales manager for a two-van construction firm, specializing in remodels and wanting to get into residential construction and surfaces. The owner was excited about the concept. I liked the idea of it (I’m a risk-taker at heart), but I couldn’t, logically, see how it could work.
Don’t get me wrong … it is entirely possible to over-analyze a bologna sandwich. But planning plays a vital part in success — even if your plan fails immediately.
Here’s another great quote:
No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength (Helmuth von Moltke the Elder)
That has popularly been translated into “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and (my own favorite) “All plans fail at the first shot in battle.”
Is planning, then, a waste of time?
One of the first things taught in most business start-up courses is the importance of a well thought-out business plan. When I was helping launch a small business incubator in Navajo territory, the first thing the SBA counselor would ask is, “Do you have a business plan?” I’ve an immense respect for the SBA network — it’s operated by folks who have been in the trenches — and they see a plan as essential.
Why plan, if plans fail?
Let’s use a Roadturn Principle: If you are headed from Oregon to Florida, and you find one of the roads you planned to use is closed, what do you do?
Do you turn around and go back?
Do you freak out and take sledge hammer to the “Road Closed” sign?
What do you do?
Answer: You find another route — BUT — you keep heading towards your destination.
The same is true for any endeavor. You survey the situation. You determine where you are and where you want to go. You make sure you have what you need to get started, and you head out … making necessary corrections as you go.
If I was going to change the “Ready, Aim, Fire” sequence at all, it would look like this:
Aim, Ready, Fire
It all begins with knowing what you want to hit. Until you have a goal, you’re just a “wandering generality.”
Take an example from pay-per-click marketing
Many, many, many pay-per-click (PPC) agencies will tell you to be prepared to dump some cash before you can expect to be successful at PPC. Failure, they say, is to be expected during the first six months (or some other designated time period).
That’s because they use the Ted Turner method of planning. They fire off a volley of ads to see which gets the highest click-through rate (CTR), and they keep adjusting for maximum CTR. You must remember, though, they get paid to spend your money … and that’s a sure-fired means of doing just that.
Planning takes time, but rarely do you find a company willing to invest in planning. They want results: Fire, Aim, Ready.
Don’t get caught in that trap. Make sure you know what you want to see happen and why. Did you know a high CTR can waste money, not make it?
Check out this article on the Conversion Max website to see how that can happen: “How to Boost Your Click-Through Rate Without Being Thought an Idiot.”
And for real help with getting and staying on track, get the Roadmap to Freedom field guide. It’s free and it’s powerful.
That’s my two bits on planning.