As an avid golf and sailing enthusiast, I believe there are five basic elements to planning a successful sailing or golfing trip. It turns out, these same five elements are vital to building good business plans as well. They are:

  1. Concept & Idea

  2. Make A Plan

  3. Delegate Plan Tasks

  4. Execute & Adjust

  5. Review & Plan Next Steps

Concept & Idea

I was playing golf in Nantucket, an island off Cape Cod in New England, with a lawyer, real estate developer, and a fellow entrepreneur. The entrepreneur suggested we go to Martha’s Vineyard and play golf. Someone suggested we sail over, play golf, spend the night, play golf and sail home the next day. At that point, we all agreed it was a great idea.

Make A Plan

We finished our golf game and decided to make a plan over lunch.  We agreed on a plan, which was subject to change and continued to evolve:

  1. Set a date to sail to Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard (5 hour sail).

  2. Make a reservation for a boat slip.

  3. Make a reservation to stay at the Edgartown Inn.

  4. Decide where to have dinner.

  5. Make golf tee times for 2 days.

  6. Have a contingency plan.

Delegate Plan Tasks

On Monday, we were ready to leave. We met at 6:00 AM to take the launch to our sailboat.  One of the team members made special arrangements for the launch to take us an hour earlier than normal. If we were not able to arrange the earlier launch, we would have missed our 2:00 PM tee time.

We loaded the sailboat and stowed our clubs and gear, divided the tasks to leave the harbor and started on our adventure.  After leaving the harbor, the winds turned unfavorable and we had to motor to Martha’s Vineyard at 5 Kts per hour. We had plenty of time to review the plan, make contingency plans, check the weather and make plans for dinner.

Execute & Adjust

Like any business plan, we had to constantly make changes and fine tune the plan. We were an experienced team with all the talents needed to execute and fine-tune the plan. We all worked towards the common goal of having a great time and a successful trip.

We arrived in Martha’s Vineyard too early for our slip and had to find a mooring until our slip was available. Part of the team worked on finding a mooring and the others called a cab to get us to the Farm Neck golf course. We dropped our gear at the hotel and headed for the golf course. We played golf, returned to dock the boat, have a drink at The Shanty, check-in at the hotel, take a shower and have dinner. This all could not have been completed without a plan and a great team to execute the plan.

Review & Plan Next Steps

The next day we met at 6:15 AM and headed for the golf course. On the way to the golf course, we reviewed and fine-tuned the plans for the day with the goal of reaching home before dark. After golf and lunch, we loaded up the boat and headed home.  We raised the sails and had a 20 to 30 kt wind. It was a thrilling ride home.

Because of the favorable winds, we arrived in Nantucket at 7:00 PM. One of the team members invited us for cocktails. We reviewed our trip against the plan and agreed it was a success and given the chance, we would do it again.

How is this like creating a business plan?

  1. Making a business plan is no different than making any plan.

  2. To keep on schedule, a plan has to be continually fine-tuned.

  3. We were a seasoned team and respected each other’s talents.

  4. Decisions had to be made and there was no room for egos.

  5. Unless you have a plan, you’re like a boat without a rudder, or a golf ball lost in the woods. You need a direction to go before you can change or fine-tune it.

What’s your experience with business plans? I’d love to hear comments from readers below.

P.S. – Do you need an Outside Director, Advisory Board Member, Trusted Advisor,  or Interim CEO?  Someone who can help you see your business and your goals through “Fresh Eyes.”  Contact me and I will work with you to look at where you want to go and help you find the best way to get there.  Sometimes all it takes is someone with a fresh viewpoint, unencumbered by company politics or culture to help find the right solution.

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Larry Putterman
Board Director | Advisory Board Member

Avoid painful lessons learned. Let me help solve your business problems. A fresh set of eyes can show you a different set of possibilities. Use my experience to save time and money. I have been there and done that. What makes me highly effective is my fresh viewpoint, unencumbered by company politics or culture.


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