Now is about the time that owners and key leaders think, “we need a plan for next year!”

You are right…you do.  What about last year’s plan?  Did it work?  Did you stick to it?

Do goals and plans even work?

Through our in-depth research, we have uncovered the secret in what plans and goal-setting tools work and which do not.  Stay tuned and I will answer that in a minute.

But first, why do we need a goal-setting plan in the first place?

This is a story of two boats.  Both boats were planning to leave the safe harbour of Ft. Lauderdale with their destination (vision) set on Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas.

One boat arrived safely in Marsh Harbor the same afternoon they departed Ft. Lauderdale …the other boat was lost at sea, frustrated and cursing God for not “blessing” them with a safe arrival.

When we dig a bit deeper we find some helpful information learned from both situations.

The first boat that arrived safely had spent two weeks preparing for the trip with a simple, written checklist on a simple sheet of notebook paper.

Fuel, check.

GPS, check.

Fresh batteries, check.

Food, check.

Water, check.

Weather, check.

Safety equipment, check.

The second boat decided on a whim to go.

Fuel, not enough.

GPS, broken.

Fresh batteries…nope, drained.

Food, couple packs of crackers.

Water, a few water bottles

Weather, never bothered to look.

Safety equipment, a child’s life vest and a whistle.

The people in the second boat were rescued by a charter sportfishing boat and their crew and brought safely back to the coast of Florida, but their boat was badly damaged.

Upon return, the captain of the misshapen boat talked with disdain and jealousy about the boat that had safely made it to Marsh Harbor without incident using language that made it sound like the successfully arrived boat was “lucky”.

Meanwhile, the shattered and unprepared captain continued telling harrowed sea stories at the local watering hole about the time he made it back safe to shore after he had beaten back the winds and the waves, enduring dehydration, a lack of food and lifejackets and on and on and on…as if he were a hero.

Business owners can sometimes confuse unpreparedness and a lack of planning with unforeseen persecution and suffering.  They will tell others, “the market was against me” or “employees are impossible” or “we could never catch a break”. 

In reality what they meant to say was, “I was unprepared”.

Here is the easiest preparation tool we have found; Brian Moran’s 12 Week Year.

We have adapted his principles into a simple 12 Week Plan tool that everyone of our heroic small business owners use and refresh every 12 weeks.

Here are three reasons it works so well and why you should try it beginning on Thursday December 19th, 2019…

First, twelve months is TOO LONG!  

With twelve month plans we get to April and think, “well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we still have nine months.”

Then we get to July and think, “well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we still have six months.”

Then we get to October and huff frustratingly, ““well we haven’t done anything with our twelve month plan, but we only have three months till the new year so we’ll scrap this one and do one next year.”

And the cycle repeats into insanity.

Second, the twelve week plan only allows for three goals.  Moran defines goals simply as “outcomes”.  In other words, what are the three major outcomes you hope to achieve over the next twelve weeks?

Is it to “clean up your bookkeeping” or to “finalize a hiring process”?  Perfect.  Whatever it is, it is ok for the goal itself to be broad (I know, I know…it feels like a violation of the S.M.A.R.T. goal process…stay tuned).

Finally, each goal has an unlimited number of tactics with Moran defines simply as “actions”.

In other words, if your goal is to “finalize a hiring process” then your list of tactics may look like this…

  • Set a time to define our mission and core values
  • Define our mission and core values
  • Set a time to finalize our Org Chart so we know what roles exist
  • Finalize our Org Chart so we know what roles exist
  • Set a time to write out our hiring process using Google Draw
  • Write out our hiring process using Google Draw
  • Set a meeting with the team to reveal our new hiring process
  • Meet with the team to reveal our new hiring process
  • Set a time with the team for follow up, etc…..

By principle, when all of the tactics (actions) are completed, then the goal is completed…all within the timeline of twelve weeks. 

It’s simple.  Twelve weeks, three goals, unlimited actions steps.

So what is the secret to finding a plan and goal-setting tool works?  The one you IMPLEMENT and DO!

MAKE the time on your calendar, get out a sheet of paper, and IMPLEMENT.  Then create a line item in your weekly team meeting agenda for each person to review progress to their twelve week plan so you can track their progress to “Marsh Harbor”.

What about the ones who don’t implement?  They will likely be the ones griping and complaining about how they braved the elements and were left in a hopeless goal of reaching their vision.  Not sure if they are a good fit for what you are building.

FYI, we are hosting our next Business On Purpose 12 Week Plan LIVE Event on Thursday December 19th, 2019 in Bluffton, SC at 9amEST.  You can sign you and your team up here.

Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters.  Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at