Planning Sets You Free
By: Scottie Bahr, Low Voltage Contractors, Service Sales
Back in college I was assigned a book by Dave Ellis titled Becoming a Master Student. It was an easy-read text book for a general education first year course and to this day I still remember many of the important themes outlined in this book. One of those themes was titled “Planning Sets You Free” and for the purposes of this article, the theme goes beyond becoming a successful student – it is really more about establishing a comprehensive and detailed vision and path for your life.
“Planning Sets You Free” can also help address what I feel is the biggest challenge service integrators face today – how we help ourselves and our customers weed through the minutia of everyday business decisions on the way to establishing a long-range vision. We need foresight to visualize and prepare, and once we have a plan, we gain the “freedom” to make efficient yet calculated decisions to lead us, our businesses and hopefully our customers to a successful future.
Coincidentally, LVC’s President Robert Hoertsch just shared an article in our July company newsletter with the opening question, “Where will you be in 5-years?” As I pondered this question, I realized that I myself struggle to carve out adequate time to outline a plan, a vision, and when appropriate a budget that looks beyond this year and maybe next. I sometimes feel trapped, stuck, and stifled by my inability to simply decide. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions: Because I may lack a long range plan, do I “really” know where I am going? Am I fully prepared? And when the time comes, will I be confident and able to choose the best path?
by creating a long-term vision and by helping your customers do the same, you take control of the decision making process and in turn inject your business into becoming a key player in your customer’s future.
There are of course many possible paths to choose from and while we cannot entirely predict our personal or business future, we can still strategize and plan for what we hope that desired future will be. And once we know where we want to be in the future, it is much easier to select the most efficient and most logical path to get there. However, be prepared for some serious resistance – planning for many is seen as a restrictive, rigid, risky process. Certain people and businesses are risk averse and thus would rather follow a familiar and comfortable path. But it (planning) becomes easier once you identify the potential pitfalls. Robert Hoertsch suggests that the “beauty of a long-range plan is that it will include contingencies…”, and these contingencies are the “what ifs” we ask ourselves to identify potential challenges and that which helps us to prepare for changes beyond our control (i.e. the economy, international influences, technology, government policy, etc.).
The essence of “Planning Sets You Free” is that by creating a long-term vision and by helping your customers do the same, you take control of the decision making process and in turn inject your business into becoming a key player in your customer’s future. Get in front of your customers often and be a partner to that future plan and help them look beyond the “fork” in the road. Set them free to decide, and you’ll find yourself and your company not just a service integrator – but fully “integrated” into your customer’s strategic plan.