"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius
Interestingly, the response I usually hear from small businesses (outside of the banking industry) is that they do have a strong, more formal handle on their day to day cash needs. They keep a check register (albeit mostly electronically, for example in QuickBooks). They know how much cash they need to fund their regular business needs and they monitor their cash flow in detail. They know which customers they need to collect from up-front, and which ones are slow to pay. They have concrete back-up plans if cash runs tight – savings, lines of credit, which bills they can delay paying versus which payments are critical to be paid on time. They know where they’ve been and where they’re trending - positive cash flow is critical to staying in business, so cash flow is always top of mind. Otherwise they’re out of business (and hence not part of my survey.)
This past year, I sent my oldest off to college for the first time. Amid the tears (ours) and shouts of joy (hers) there was much hard work, paperwork and check writing involved to get her to this point. And while we want her to celebrate what she has already accomplished, we also want her to focus on the details needed to get her to the next milestone - College Graduation. Fortunately, she does have a mandatory Strategy 101 class that – among other things - requires her to map out her course schedule for the next four years. The focus is not to create a roadmap that she should not deviate from, but rather to get her thinking about how to build in nice-to-haves (study abroad), plan for some "what-ifs" (change of interests), and to regularly check back in to see if she is staying on course or needs to alter her path.
Did you get a chance to read Tom’s blog titled "Precision vs. Accuracy"? He makes some great points about how Planning is Preparation, and compares poor preparation to an annoying traffic situation he encountered. The driver behind him was honking at him to hurry up because he hadn’t planned adequately for the time required to drive to his destination.