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Mad about the plan

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result but by following a business plan, we can change the outcome

John Joe McGinley, Business strategy manager Aegon
John Joe McGinley, Business strategy manager Aegon

Have you ever wondered why New Year’s resolutions rarely last beyond the middle of January? It is so hard to break a habit and your good intentions always seem to get lost in the general rush of everyday life.

The reasons are usually time restrictions and a lack of focus.

When you run a business, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges and lose sight of the bigger picture. Many businessowners find that much of their time is occupied by reacting to the many problems and perceived crises that occur daily. Does this ring true with you? Do you find it hard to do things differently and change?

Captain Edmund Blackadder defined insanity as placing your underpants on your head and putting pencils up your nose and shouting “wibble” and other nonsense words every few minutes.

I personally prefer Benjamin Franklin’s definition: “Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.”

We all know that if we do the same things over and over again, we will get the same result. But how can we manage change and what can we do differently to get other outcomes?

Planning for change
At the end of last year, I finished a speaking tour across the country, where I was privileged to speak face to face with over 400 financial advisers about planning for change.

My opening gambit at these sessions is usually: “OK then, who has a business plan?”

Not many hands go up. At one of my earlier sessions, a hand did go up. I asked if this adviser had a clear vision for his business and he said yes. I then asked him if he set business and personal goals, and the answer was yes again.

I thought he could help me with the session and asked him where his plan was – hoping it was not in his top drawer gathering dust. He replied,
“It’s in my head.”

This adviser had highlighted the key issue I have found around the country. People realise they want to change. People realise they have to manage this change and they need a plan. But storing it in your head isn’t enough – a powerful, effective plan needs to be written down.

In response to this need over the next few months, I am going to highlight each of the key steps you can take to put your own business plan together.

Time is indeed one of your most valuable commodities but the investment you make in defining the strategic direction of your business will be some of the most rewarding hours you will spend this year.

Each month, I will look at each element of the business plan but to get you started we have produced our free business development websitethe business brain. This is designed to help any adviser define and implement their own business vision.

It can be seen at

This will help you start putting your own plan together – and find a better use for your pencils.


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