96% of Scottish businesses are failing…and here could be the reason…

Have you ever heard a business owner say (or let’s be honest, said yourself)

I’m not a great planner. I’m a more ‘fluid’ kinda-guy


My business is too reactive. There’s no point in planning



They say that less than 50% of business owners have a plan….and even fewer stick to it!

However I am yet to meet a sensible business owner that does not agree it would be a huge advantage to have absolutely clarity over where they are, where they are going, how they were performing.

There is a critical reason why every aircraft comes fitted with a panel of instruments and that no pilot starts the engines without a clear destination and route.

Everyone would die !!

For the same reasons, most businesses are failing too.

A bundle of contradictions?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy spontaneity.

Life is fun and I like the surprises it throws at me, well most of them anyway! I’m an optimist. I’m a hopeful kind of guy.

But in business, whilst I absolutely endorse being nimble and encourage the seizing of opportunities whilst they are there,

I’m a firm believer in having a plan.

Now, you might think that I’m being a bundle of contradictions here.

Surely, planning is at the other end of the extreme from spontaneity?

Well, if you think that way then you’ll probably always do one in isolation to the other.

An ex-military friend of mine shares an oft-used saying…

“No plan survives first contact.”

Meaning, you can’t go into battle without a plan…but when the bullets start flying, you’ve got to adapt the plan!

So, I see spontaneity and planning as actions that aren’t mutually exclusive. They can co-exist.

The point here though is that you don’t just HOPE things will turn out OK.

You plan as best you can to stack everything in your favour to heighten the chances of success.

So, there are two key points here. Making a plan in the first place and then executing it!

Where are you falling down?

And don’t give me that excuse “I’m no good at planning” or “I don’t know how to plan”.

What rubbish are you telling yourself?

You can and you do know how. It’s relatively simple stuff.

Yes, having a framework to facilitate your thinking helps but the thing most business owners don’t do is MAKE THE TIME to plan.

I’ve heard clients initially resist doing a plan with rubbish like:

“I’m too busy to make a plan” Or “my business is too reactive. There’s no point in planning”

Really?! (Have you even said this too?)

And, after winning them round to the idea that planning might not be so bad an idea they say things like:

“I feel so much more in control”


“I’ve just managed to get things down on paper that’ve been swirling around my head for ages”

To extremes like…

“I’m going to get ALL of my team to write their plans”

And it gets even better when you hear clients saying things like…

“that’s the first time I’ve ever really hit a profit goal in my life”

No room for ‘Hope Management’


I remember an old sales director of mine in my early days listen carefully to me explain my commercial account plan for a customer I was managing.

It wasn’t a bad plan, but it wasn’t one of my best either. And he knew it wasn’t that good because he’d heard me too many times saying the word “hope”. He said…

Son, we don’t do ‘hope management’ here. Make your plan tighter!”.



But it was a good lesson all those years ago and one which I took to heart and indeed one which I find myself using with clients regularly.

The question is…..are you planning for success or simply hoping?

At ActionCOACH, as you might expected, we place a significant value on planning. So much so in fact we take clients out of their business for a full day (yes, a full day) every 90 days.

We encourage them to reflect on what happened in the last 90 days – the stuff that went well, the stuff that didn’t go so well, making sure they take time to learn from what’s just happened. Then we focus attention on the next 90 days.

  • What priorities need to be delivered this quarter to achieve your 12 month goals?
  • What tasks need to be done to deliver the priorities?
  • Who will do them and by when?

Planning ain’t so bad.
 It shouldn’t be just a big company discipline. I’m a massive fan of SME world. A much bigger fan of SMEs in fact than I am of the corporate world but one of the disciplines I miss from big companies is that of planning.

Let me leave you with a question,

Do you think big companies started planning when they got big or might they have had that discipline when they started out?

Just a thought.