Planning vs Trial and Error – Which is More Important in Business?
Some entrepreneurs are good planners. Others learn and perfect their methods through trial and error. Which is more important in business? I’m going to say, they’re both important. And no, that’s not a cop-out. Sure, you’ll learn more and get more done through trial and error than you will by planning. But, ONLY if you practice these two habits…
- You have a written plan to begin with.
- You revise your plan as you execute it.
If you don’t do the first, you’ll have one hell of a time learning anything from your trial and error. If you make a mistake, or if you use up too many resources (time, money, or energy) and get too little in return, having a plan will give you something to analyze, refine, and reapply through action. In other words, the most valuable benefit of having a plan is that it gives you a way to track which actions produced which results.
At the same time, if you neglect the second habit above, you’ll become one of those people who is more concerned with processes than you are with results. If you want an example of this, just look at how the politicians in Washington D.C. operate. They care more about following the “right” procedures, consulting right “experts,” and looking good for the media than they do about getting things done without wasting time and resources.
Entrepreneurs who fall into this “procedure over results” trap do so because they’re unwilling to revise their plan in response to the lessons they learn applying that plan. This is one reason smart entrepreneurs believe that failure is the best teacher. You will learn nothing from drawing up plans, and the plans you start with will NEVER be the plans you end up succeeding with.
So, which is better…planning or trial and error? In my experience, this question is a false dichotomy. Both are necessary for becoming a successful entrepreneur.
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