The 10 Keys to Planning for Success in your Business

By Wayne H. Ottum

“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”  Brian Tracy

It’s that time of year again when businesses begin talking about planning for the new year while dusting off their old Strategic Plans.  You may have heard the expression, “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.”  Yes, we try to plan.  We set business goals.  We make project plans and “To Do” lists.  We might even create a business plan.  These are all good things, for sure.  Many of us, however, find that after only a few short weeks we steer off course, experience frustration, and fall back into the rut we were in before – stuck. We discover these half-hearted efforts are, well, half-hearted and can even be demotivating to management and staff, particularly if last year’s plan was simply filed and forgotten, and never materialized.

If planning is as valuable as we are told (and it is), then what we really need is a simple, clearly defined process to help us create an individualized plan with real meaning, specific to our business.  It is a plan that literally compels us – and our staff – to act.  A written “road-map,” so to speak, that resonates within and feels in alignment with the heart of our business and who we are, authentically.  A plan we can actually sink our teeth into and work it with gusto, each and every day!

There are 10 important keys to remember during the strategic planning process for your business:

  1. Clearly define what success means to you (your vision). With a clear direction you always know your “true North,” even when extreme storms try to blow you off course.
  2. Know and understand your purpose. With clarity of purpose (your mission), you know what you do, who you serve, and the value they receive so you can focus your day-to-day activities and those of your staff on those things that really matter.
  3. Take a balanced approach. Align your purpose to your business and personal values.  This allows you to make decisions that feel authentic and in alignment with who you are.
  4. Understand your strengths, your talents (gifts) that make you unique. When you know and use your strengths to conquer your challenges, you give yourself your best chance of success.
  5. Let go of what you cannot control and is not in alignment with your definition of success. It is an extraordinary, freeing feeling when you relieve yourself of those things that do not add to your business success.
  6. Know where you are today. Every journey begins with a single step.  When you know where you are in relation to where you want to go, you now have the starting point from which to chart your course.
  7. Prioritize and focus. Even the best professional juggler can only juggle a few items at a time.  Intentionally focusing on those things you have identified as integral and important will get you where you want to go.
  8. Set SMART goals with real meaning to you. Setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based goals is integral to successfully managing every step of your strategic journey.
  9. Measure, manage, and celebrate often. Take time to assess progress, re-align as needed, and celebrate ANY movement in the right direction.
  10. Set the right attitude, right now. If you are waiting for success to happen before you feel happy and fulfilled, then you will be forever chasing happiness.  In fact, choosing to be happy now is the key to greater success.  Additional feelings of happiness come from the confidence realized when you are working your plan; when you know your purpose, your direction, what you do and do best, and you choose to live intentionally, on purpose every day, doing those things that are in alignment with your mission, vision, values, and your authentic self.

If you have questions about Strategic Planning, or if you are interested in scheduling a facilitated Strategic Planning workshop with Wayne Ottum, call us at 206-351-4656, or send us an email at  Check out other Lead from Strength workshop opportunities at: