Oct 30, 20200 comments

Here are three important facts about small, entrepreneurial businesses that you should know: 

  1. About 80-90% of small businesses survive their first year but at the five-year point only about 40% of them are still trading. 
  2. The top three reasons why small businesses fail are a lack of sufficient capital; poor management and inadequate business planning
  3. Research by the Palo Alto software company shows that business owners with a clear plan are TWICE AS LIKELY to grow their businesses. 

Knowing this, you can imagine my surprise when I reviewed the responses to the Actually Quiz the other day and worked out that 89% of respondents don’t have a clear annual plan. When I ask people why that’s the case, they usually say: 

  • ‘I never have time to plan’
  • ‘Planning constrains my creativity’
  • ‘I don’t know where to start’
  • ‘What’s the point when everything will change anyway?’ 

And of course this year, we have all experienced the truth of the saying ‘Man plans, God laughs.’ as each of us watched our plans for 2020 go up in smoke. 

And yet, I remain a great advocate for planning – ESPECIALLY when the world is so uncertain. Why? 

Well, partly because of those facts I gave you at the start of this blog – proper planning will help you to grow your endeavour and ensure that you are in the 40% of businesses that survive to five years and beyond. 

But there are other reasons too. 

Planning satisfies my need for creativity AND structure, for certainty AND flexibility. It soothes and reassures me and allows me to focus my energies where they are most needed in my business. 

Plus, I’ll let you in on a secret, planning delivers all of these benefits even when you DON’T then implement everything you envisaged in your original plan – even if you change your mind or come up with something entirely new halfway through the year or a global pandemic strikes! 

I love a good road trip. Bear with me here – this is relevant. I love getting in my car and heading off for two weeks of exploration and adventure. I’ve driven across most of New England, Ireland, France, Italy and the UK and loved every minute. Here’s how it works. I know my vehicle. I plan my milestone destinations – the places I want to be sure to reach: Rome, Naples, Ravello, Sicily. And I plan the route. 

Then I begin the journey and I detour; I change my mind and stay three days in Rome rather than two; I stop in a town I’ve never even heard of and have a delicious spontaneous lunch at a local trattoria. I notice a sign for a vineyard I’ve vaguely heard of and off I go for a quick wine-tasting. 

My vehicle stays the same. My milestone destinations are the same: Rome, Naples, Ravello, Sicily. But my route alters. 

Think of your business as your vehicle. Hopefully that will only change if you decide to upgrade for a bigger model! 

Your milestone destinations for each part of your trip – these are your intentions for the year ahead, your dreams and aspirations, your objectives and aims. 

And your route is made up of the products and services you offer that will help you to reach these milestones. 


Let me give you an example from this year of crazy uncertainty: my business, Actually. I had a clear series of milestone destinations for the year – things I wanted to achieve. I wanted to: 

  • Double my list
  • Take on a core consulting client
  • Deliver two cohorts of my flagship training programme
  • Create a stable baseline income stream
  • And generate 6-figure revenues in my first full year in business. 

Covid came along and changed the precise route that I was planning to take. I had to do some last minute detours – pivot my offering and find new approaches to marketing. BUT my milestones did NOT change and because I had that focus and I knew the direction I was headingin, with nearly three months left in the year I was able to tick off each of these milestones. 

My point is this, the best laid plans of mice and men may go awry or need to change, but having those plans – and reviewing them regularly – will help you to grow your business, grow your impact and create the change you want to see in the world. So join the 11% of entrepreneurs who DO have a plan and make sure you’re in the 40% who will still have a growing business after five years. 


Let’s ACTUALLY make a difference.


Sara Price

Founder, Actually

October 2020


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