How Strategic Planning Transforms Chaos Into Confidence

Setting goals, making a plan to achieve them and regularly checking progress is just common sense but the confidence it creates is magical.

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By Clate Mask


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The day-to-day hustle of business lends itself to a world of chaos and confusion. With fires to put out in every corner, you can easily be drawn into a reactive state of mind that you carry with you into the next day, week and year. Before you know it, you're nowhere near where you thought you'd be. You feel like you're failing as an entrepreneur and as the leader of your company.

You need to improve performance, so you take a look at your competition to learn their secrets. But their secrets aren't magical or mystical. In fact, success is the combination of mindset strategies, successful planning and grit.

High performing people, well-paid athletes and successful business owners have one thing in common: confidence. Whenever you're in the zone and performing well, you become so confident that when you take the next shot you expect nothing but success. Confidence drives success, but it takes preparedness and daily execution excellence.

Strategic planning provides confidence and clarity.

Intentional outcomes come from intentional actions, intentional planning and intentional vision. Strategic planning isn't a one-time event. It's not a set-it-and-forget-it activity. Once you've developed your mission, you need to break it down into annual and quarterly priorities.

At Infusionsoft, a small business sales and marketing software company, we hold quarterly planning sessions with team leaders to provide context for the upcoming quarter. This context provides clarity and focuses on the 20 percent of the activities we do as a collective company that contribute 80 percent of the strategic progress that we're trying to make towards our mission.

Although leaders come prepared with their plans for the quarter, they use the information provided and feedback from their peers to make adjustments to their plans. When the planning session is complete, leaders return to their teams with confidence in their plan to achieve the goals set for the quarter.

When leaders have confidence, they project a positive attitude and demeanor onto their team. Individuals become eager to win, feel empowered to take action and confidence spreads through the team like wildfire.

Related: 4 Steps to Successful Execution of a Strategy

Excellence in daily execution ensures progress.

You can have a vision for the future, but you need to focus on the work you have today. Plans are great, but you won't see progress unless they're translated into daily activities. Employees need to be able to tie their projects and job functions to your current mission.

At Infusionsoft, employees work closely with their leaders to understand the quarterly plan, and they work together to identify the top three priorities, which are called their Big 3. Employees figure out how they will deliver results and report progress every Friday. Reporting on their Big 3 helps them feel confident that they're contributing to the company's success. It also gives leaders the opportunity to celebrate wins, as well as engage in a dialog on any performance gaps and improvements.

Sometimes there are days and weeks where there's a ton of reactive activities in your business and it feels like you're not making progress. That's the nature of every small business. Weekly reporting helps leaders see trends and spot issues so they can have the conversation with employees before it's too late.

Related: If Chaos Is Your Startup's Default Setting, Inconsistent Leadership May Be to Blame

Monthly assessments improve teamwork.

With a strategy in place and daily focus made clear for each of your employees, you've laid the groundwork for high performance. Now, it's time to make sure that your people are working together like a well-oiled machine. There's nothing more frustrating than individual parts that don't add up to a whole. Stepping back to look at the business holistically is key.

Assess progress to the quarterly priorities as a company once a month. Look for areas where there is a disconnect or where you seem to be off track. Then, determine if you need to make adjustments.

Sometimes, there are good reasons for differences between where you are and where you expected to be. The market may have shifted, your product plans may have changed, or the key performance indicator might be the wrong metric to measure. If you're doing well, then celebrate. If you need to close some gaps, work as a team to take corrective action.

Transform your business.

Entrepreneurs who aren't intentional about planning are in a constant state of chaos and confusion. Ultimately, they leave the fate of their business to chance. You didn't quit your job, take a financial risk and invest thousands of hours into your business so that you could roll the dice and gamble with your future.

The strategic planning process is about creating the future that you desire. It's intended to transform chaos and confusion into clarity and confidence. If you want to improve the likelihood of success for your business, you must be intentional. Plan strategically, strive for daily execution excellence and work as a team. The future of your business depends on it.

Related: 6 Actions You Can Take Every Day to Build Your Self-Confidence

Clate Mask

Co-founder and CEO, Infusionsoft

Recognized as a visionary leader in the small-business community, Clate Mask has been educating and inspiring entrepreneurs for more than a decade. As CEO of Infusionsoft, Mask is leading the company on its mission to create and dominate the market of sales and marketing for small businesses.

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