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Asking "What If" When Planning for 2021

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Your 2021 Goals Are In Place…Now What?”

It’s a new year and you have your new goals in place. Right? If you are like many entrepreneurs, you set goals. But wait a minute…do “many” entrepreneurs actually set goals?

There is much anecdotal information out there that states 80-90% of us do not set goals. Other data-points will claim that only 5-10% of us actually achieve our goals. And even more data claims that of the 10-20% of us that do set goals, far fewer actually take the time to write them down and put some actual planning behind them.

Any way you slice these data-points, one take-away should be clear: if you set goals and write them down, you are one of the few. Which in a way, makes you part of an elite group of success-minded professionals.

As a Business Performance Coach, my clients are goal-setters. Why? Because those who set goals and write them down are more likely to achieve them. Capturing your goals on paper also makes it more likely that you will track your progress toward them: an interesting and vitally powerful habit to adopt.

Ok, so back to the beginning. Your 2021 goals are in place…Now what?

Take it a step further, and go deeper.

Even though you are in the minority who set goals, I’d like you to think deeper and consider adding an element of scenario planning to your goals. In other words, review your goals and ask, ”what if…”

Scenario planning can add an element of preparedness to future uncertainty. Just look at 2020, and the turbulence and uncertainty of the COVID pandemic. I’m not saying we could have reasonably predicted any of that coming, but I am saying that if you had some “what ifs” planned, you would have been better prepared as opposed to being caught flat footed.

So, let’s look at this idea of scenario planning a bit closer.

Pick one of your goals for 2021. Let’s say it was to increase top line revenue by 20%. Since you already think deeper about your goals, you have also developed the strategy and action steps needed to achieve them. You feel pretty good and prepared to tackle the task at hand. And you are ready to work diligently toward achieving your goal for 20% growth.

BUT, let’s play “what if…”

Decide on two or three possibilities that may develop in a macro and/or micro perspective, and how they may impact you and your business.

Possibilities that come to mind may include:

· Unemployment hits an all time high.

· An economic recovery progresses slower than expected.

· An economic recovery progresses faster than expected.

· Interest rates rise, making capital harder to secure.

· A larger and well-known competitor moves into your area.

· Your most trusted employee decides to leave for a better opportunity.

· Your #1 client declares bankruptcy.

· Your #1 client refers you to your largest opportunity.

You get the idea.

The intention here is to plan beforehand so you are better prepared for what may be over the horizon.

If you are struggling a bit with some scenarios that warrant some attention, rally your leadership team, your closest alliance partners, your coach, etc. and have a “what if…” discussion.

Consider this…if you are in the minority because you set goals, think about how few take it to the next level of scenario planning.

As a successful entrepreneur, you must constantly strive for better. This additional exercise applied to your annual strategic planning and goal setting will set you even further apart. And that’s a group we should all want to be part of.

Wishing you continued success!

James Pagano

Business Performance Coach


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