If today was your last day on earth, how would you spend it?

Sir Ray Avery told us at the fabulous Canterbury Tech Summit that he has approximately 4000 days left to live, and during that time he plans to change the world. Ambitious statement but coming from him sounded completely plausable.

His one goal of that keynote speech was to convince just 1 of the 600+ audience to actively have a plan. So sitting there I mentally calculated I have ~11,000 days to live if I am lucky, and that I would be that 1 person, take his advice and plan what I want to achieve – for myself, what I will do others, and for the greater good.

Before you write this blog off as “NOT FOR ME” – indulge me for 2 more minutes

Planning isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I understand that. Staying afloat in life can be challenging and Life can give us lemons – believe me mine has this year, bucket loads! – so considering your own lives in terms of number of days to go is a confronting yet powerful statement. Planning in this context doesn’t need to be a massive undertaking, it could be a set of goals both big and small, giving yourself an opportunity to see yourself making progress over time. The key insight for me is not squandering my time, doing the things I love and leaving the world a better place than I found it.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. Eleanor Roosevelt

2016-09-15-13-43-09If you made it reading this far, thank you. You can tell Sir Ray Avery made an impression on me. How we live our lives is important. My experience tells me we can become a product of our own efforts so purposefully directing those into prioritised activities sits well with me.

This juncture does make for a good segway into the importance of business planning – one of my pet topics.


Business Plans are Powerful

Business can be hard work too, just to keep moving forward let alone make progress up the hill can be a slog (if you haven’t read it one of my favourite blogs The Art of Coping with The Struggle).

Plans can be priceless tools to helping crack into success. Pulling together all of the threads of people, process, technology, financial models, pricing models, goals and strategy into one document or format helps visualise the ‘why, what and how’ in a crystallising way sitting in our heads can’t quite do. Running on gut and intuition can only take a company so far, there is a point growth dictates the need for planning and execution against that plan.

If you are scared of writing your plan down – remember a business plan can be short, is a living document (although I do suggest keeping all iterations for historic purposes) and can be rough as guts – nobody else needs to read them just you and your stakeholders. Business Plans should contain your Big Hairy Audacious goals as well as your smaller incremental steps to success on a range of dimensions.

Specifically the benefits of a business plan can be:

  1. A vision and strategy that guides your decision making – businesses are dynamic so pivots, market conditions, customer led opportunities all lead to potential changes in execution path so it’s good to remember what you set out to do and have a guide for decision making before taking a new turn
  2. Fantastic for reflecting on achievement – I am a big fan of reflection (especially on low days), celebrating success and measuring progress so looking back at how much you have achieved is powerful, not something that needs to be done frequently of course
  3. A tool for growth – a cohesive plan (or information memorandum) is a key tool in sharing your vision and potential with staff and shareholders, directors, advisors, future investors or even strategic partners. The right growth strategy input into that plan could exponentially lift your companies performance.

Ironically the song “How Far We’ve Come” popped up on my playlist as I wrote this blog, no I don’t think the world is going to end, it was a reminder to look back as well as forward occasionally. So with that final thought I will close this post off hoping to have inspired one reader to prepare themselves or their business a plan. Happy sharing, Vic.

Victoria MacLennan is a busy business owner, investor and director. She is passionate about diversity, women in both leadership and technology, organisational governance and focuses much of her time on strengthening the New Zealand economy through Digital and Technology. You can read more about Victoria here.