The Planning Effect: How to Create Clarity & Increase Your Chances of Success

April 3, 2022

In June 2020, I quit my stable 9-5 job in pursuit of creative entrepreneurship.

Several coworkers thought I was crazy and I was scared to tell family about my plans because I couldn't have any outside negativity or doubts.

But what nobody knew was that I barely viewed the leap as a risk.

I had carefully planned my exit for 2 years and knew exactly how I was going to make the transition & support myself if anything didn't go according to plan.

Luckily I did this because of course, almost nothing went according to plan.

The business launch was delayed which caused me to burn extra savings, growth didn't happen as fast as expected, my car was stolen, I forgot how expensive car insurance was - there were many things that happened that weren't in my "plan", but that doesn't mean the plan was worthless.

Without a plan, I never would've been able to take the leap because I wouldn't have had the confidence to do so.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the transition from stability to the unknown—especially as more and more people begin to pursue their passions online—and I'm a believer that a majority of success comes down to planning (which enables confident actions).

the planning effect

A quick example from my own situation:

I knew I wanted to be a financial planner coming out of college. But I couldn't land a job anywhere because I didn't have a network of rich old people with a lot of money to invest. I didn't know how to change that simple fact about myself, so I started doing some research.

After awhile, I learned that it was possible to start your own financial planning firm. I read a blog from another planner who said she launched her firm with $12,000 in expenses in the first year.

This was phase one of my planning exercise.

I did research, figured out how much I needed to have saved to start a business, came up with a rough timeline of when I wanted to start, and then I worked backwards to figure out how much I needed to save each month to reach that goal.

By doing just a little bit of planning, I reduced my risk of starting the business by a great amount because I would have enough savings to not need any income for the business for a year. This would give me time to figure things out and find my footing as an entrepreneur.

I then took the time to start business planning which included things like:

  • Creating a marketing plan
  • A content plan
  • My value proposition
  • Service models
  • Etc.

All of that stuff was in motion before I even started the business or quit my job.

Then when the time came and I was ready to launch, I asked myself "what's the worst that could happen?".

I hated my job, I had done plenty of planning, I knew how I was going to go to market, and I had savings to support myself - it felt like a no-brainer.

And it was.

Nothing was going to stop me from starting because I had reduced all of the risk that usually comes with starting something on your own, simply by creating a plan.

If you're starting a business, you may be pressed for income due to a lack of savings - or you may struggle to find traction because you hadn't thought through your business model and service offerings. Even with planning a lot of things changed and I had to pivot many times, but having a plan gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap.

And that's all it comes down to, right?

You'll never know if you have the ability to succeed unless you take the leap first, and planning is the only way I know how to bridge the confidence gap.

Where else in your life would you benefit from planning?

  • Your finances - Dealing with money can be stressful when there's no plan. You don't know where to start, you're not sure what you should be saving for, and you don't know if you're doing the right things. There are a lot of unknowns which can cause anxiety and more stress. By taking the time to create a financial plan and think about what you want money to do for you, you can begin to align decisions with your values, getting you closer to where you truly want to be.
  • Your passions - Similar to my story, you may have a passion that you want to pursue but you're not quite sure how to approach it. There are a lot of moving parts to consider but by taking the time to create a plan around it, you can remove the uncertainty from your decision.​
  • Your business - Business planning is essential for sustainability. You need to know how you're going to create income, how you're going to scale, how you'll market yourself, the best business entity for your situation, how you're going to manage taxes, and plenty of other things that are specific to different industries and types of businesses.

The ultimate goal of planning is to create clarity that allows you to be confident in the next steps so that you can begin taking action. Planning will force you to ask yourself questions that you may not have thought about before, and those answers will influence how you approach the next steps.

These are my seven simplified steps to planning & reaching goals:

  1. Determine your goal
  2. Do proper research
  3. Check in with yourself to ensure the goals truly align with where you want to be
  4. Work backwards to figure out your minimum next step
  5. Work relentlessly to accomplish the next steps & achieve your goal
  6. Revisit & update 'next steps'
  7. Adjust & evaluate goals when needed
Money & business for self-employed creatives in 2 minutes or less.
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