Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A business plan’s flexibility: obstinacy or perseverance?

Are you stubborn or perseverant?
I begin this article with a question for you: Are you one of those who think that failure is the worst thing that can happen to your business? 

In many cases, I’m not sure if yours is one of them, it’s as if having a business plan involves relentlessly pursuing your goals.

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on this blog that pursuing your goals was a basic and fundamental drive to your business’ success, and I’m sticking to that thought.

Now, we have to realize that there are two attitudes that are often disguised under this “always-pursuing-your-goals” drive: stubbornness and perseverance.

It’s not the same to be stubborn than perseverant.

According to the Wordreference, obstinacy is:

Maintenance too strong of an idea, intention or opinion, usually unwise, without considering another possibility: "I cannot understand your obstinacy in opposing your daughter’s marriage." Stubbornness, obstinacy.

And the definition of perseverance, goes like this:

Firmness and consistency in implementing your mind’s resolutions and decisions. Permanent or continuous duration.

And having said that, I’m sure you can realize what I mean.

How many times have you been stubborn instead of perseverant?

If you've found yourself in those days in which you barely have the strength to move forward, can’t generate new ideas that allow you to achieve your goals or, at least, see the light at the end of the tunnel, you're probably being stubborn instead of perseverant.

It’s not the same to put 100% of your energy and time in achieving your goals, than to keep on doing it after it doesn’t make sense anymore.

When being perseverant stops making sense?

When you find yourself beginning to pursue your goals in a stubborn way, not listening or paying attention to the signs that indicate you that such goals aren’t for your business, it’s when being perseverant stops making sense.

Note that the definition of "obstinacy" contains the word "too (excessively)", so there is a time when you’re being so perseverant, that it becomes excessive, and that's when you’re just being stubborn.

That moment is when you begin not listening to the signs and symptoms that indicate your company or business is not going the right way, that something is missing, that you're making a mistake that’s not allowing you to move forward, or when you see that things don’t work as they should.

The importance of a business plan’s flexibility.

It’s at that moment, and maybe even a little bit earlier, when your business plan should - necessarily - be flexible and allow your business a change of route, a new direction, the rethinking of certain strategic objectives, and even the redesign of a complete strategy.

A business plan should never be written in stone, because there are many factors that influence how your company will reach its objectives. If all things were in your hands and under your control, we could see it that way, but obviously the reality is far from it.

How do you know when you have to be flexible?

So that you can see it clearly, I'll give you an example: Suppose you leave Alicante going to Madrid, on the highway. The distance is 426.5 km and should take you an estimated time of 4 hours 25 minutes, which means that every hour you should have advanced something like 100 kms. Good?

So. If at the end of the first hour, you’ve only advanced 60 kilometers, something isn’t going well. And while it’s not time to freak out (just yet), you may need to start thinking about alternatives. If by the second hour, you have only done 130 kms instead of 210 as you should, then it’s time to seriously assess the situation.
Having the flexibility to make changes to any plan, allows you to avoid serious headaches and wasted time. It's cool to be perseverant in achieving all the things you want in life, of course.

But if the time comes in which things around you, your environment, indicate that something is not going well, stop for a moment and assess the situation with objectivity enough as to make proper decisions that align with your business objectives.

If you don’t, you could be leaving the “perseverant” zone to dive into the “I’m a stubborn entrepreneur who isn’t paying attention to anybody. And that's not good.

Related article: Why do we need continuous professional education?

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