#009: Business Planning – Joe Clark Interview [Podcast]

I’ll be honest, sitting down and doing the HARD WORK of business planning is something that takes great concentration for me.

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In other words, it doesn’t come naturally. I’m actually pretty good at business planning, when I remember to get out of what Steven Covey and Chris McChesney call “The Whirlwind” in their book The Four Disciplines of Execution.

The problem is that I am not wired for planning. Anybody that knows me, knows that I tend to be more of a Ready, Fire, Aim kind of guy. At a recent planning meeting I literally said. “I don’t have time for all this planning! We’re trying to accomplish something here!! Let’s get going!!!!”  I did say it tongue-in-cheek, but it was what I was feeling at that moment. The reason I was frustrated with the planning process was really that it is WORK!!!

Business planning, at least for me, is kind of like going to the gym.

  • I hate GOING to the gym. (Everything about it from getting ready to the drive there.)
  • It takes me several minutes to “get in the flow.”
  • Once I am actually doing the work, it starts to feel better.
  • By the time I am done, I feel AWESOME.
  • Once I am done I am completely jacked up! I feel great about the future and myself.
  • I don’t do it often enough……

Fortunately there are people in this world that LOVE planning and strategic thinking. Even better, I have a couple of friends that I can rely on to help me in this critical area! Joe Clark is my “go to guy” in the area of business planning. Joe is wired for strategic thinking and business planning. In fact Joe’s title is Director of Field Leadership and Business Planning, for Colonial Life.

A couple of weeks ago, Joe flew to Phoenix to work with my Executive Team and myself on a critical project we were drowning in. With Joe’s guidance we were able to make sense of, and get our arms around MANY moving pieces. By the time we were done, Joe had helped us put together a very solid plan that energized the entire team and gave us great clarity.

Afterwards Joe sat down with me in the Success Is Voluntary studio. During that hour Joe shared a wide range of tips, tricks, and techniques that I think are going to help you drive your business to the next level. Here are just a few of things he managed to cram into the hour:

  • The importance of persistence.
  • Chick Fil-A and their business model.
  • Being in business for yourself but not by yourself.
  • The importance of business planning.
  • Why neither one of us want to go back into the foodservice industry.
  • The ah-ha moment that taught him how important business planning truly was.
  • Staying ahead of the business.
  • Michael Gerber’s book The E Myth and his concept of, “Working on your business instead of in your business.”

  • How business planning is NOT an exercise. You need to live in your business plan!
  • The most successful people carry their business plan in their briefcase.
  • S.M.A.R.T. Goals and how they differ from a business plan.
  • The series of items that has to be in the business plan.
  • Get to the verb!
  • The three biggest mistakes that people make when business planning.
    • Not being specific enough.
    • Tasks are not assignable. (The team can’t be given a task.)
    • Not being driven by specific dates.
  • What needs to be in a new agent’s business plan?
  • Checking for gaps in your business plan.
  • Can I do everything on this business plan?
  • Capability versus capacity.
  • Why “Measure of Success” is so important.
    • Sometimes it’s quantifiable and easy to understand.
    • Other times it’s just simply, “Did I get it done?”
  • Tim’s mantra, “If it doesn’t get calendared, it doesn’t get done.”
  • Is the activity driving what you want to drive?
  • The three kinds of money:
    • What you want to make.
    • What you need to make.
    • What you are committed to making.
  • The two most important things about business planning:
    • Being able to look yourself in the mirror and commit to doing the things that are on your plan. 
    • If you aren’t committed to your plan, then the planning process was just a waste of time.
  • Mark Miller’s blog and book


Mark is V.P. of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick Fil-A

  • Don’t wake up unemployed.
  • Great accomplishments rarely fall into someone’s lap.
  • If everyone only put two things into their business plan they should be:
    • Personal Production.
    • Professional Development.
  • All growth begins with personal growth.
  • The least selfish thing I can do is work on myself.
  • If you are out selling, you are the business!
  • Long-range planning: It turns into much more goal setting (i.e. numbers).
    • The further you go into the future the less specific you can be.
    • How I go from $0 to $500,000 in sales.
    • Where do I want to take my business and career?
    • 1, 3, 5, 10, and 20-year business plans.
  • Your plan needs to be a rolling business plan, not an annual event.
  • You need to be at least 6 months ahead of your business.
  • Achieving the objectives in your plan:
    • Once you hit it, you need to celebrate it!
    • Once you hit it, you need to recalibrate it!
  • The payoff is in looking backwards.
  • What is the biggest benefit of business planning? The business continues to run, even when you aren’t there!
  • The payoff of business planning? – Serenity and confidence.

I closed the interview with this advice, “People are counting on you. You owe it to yourself and the people that are counting on you, to treat this business like a business. To do the hard work up front, pay the price, and then enjoy the success!” – Tim Martin (Tweet That)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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